POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) – One year ago, severe flooding robbed a sense of normalcy from many families in Pocahontas, but one of the hardest hit neighborhoods has shown what a difference a year can make.
Water covered most of the Robil Addition neighborhood last April. Many families there have only recently finished renovating their homes. Neighbors lost so much in the floods, but what they say they gained was a better sense of community.
"You know, it's finally normal," Cyndi Barr said. "We're finally back in our home. We got our yard back. We got our little garden back, and, yeah, it feels final now."
Barr lost almost everything in the flood that devastated Pocahontas last year, but she says her neighborhood grew closer together because of the experience.
"Your neighbors were going through the same thing you were, so, when you talked to them, you had something in common," Barr said. "We really had a sense of sharing, so that was really nice."
Barr and her husband strove to keep that connection going, so they invited the entire neighborhood to their home Saturday to reconnect all these months later.
Neighbors brought different dishes, serving them buffet-style in the driveway. The two men who commandeered the boats down the flooded streets last year whipped out guitars and sang hymns, the lyrics reflecting redemption and hopefulness.
The merriment, though, masks a feeling of fear that still lingers for some, like Nina Kazzee.
"Even now, when it rains or when they're forecasting for storms and rain, I think, oh, I hope we don't get another flood," Kazzee said. "I hope we don't get another flood."
That sentiment seems to stay in the back of the neighbors' minds, as many have returned to recently renovated homes. Kazzee finally moved back home in October, but she says the different furniture and even the walls have made her lose a sense of truly being "home."
"I finally picked up the pictures and started hanging them," Kazzee said. "When I saw the family pictures, that helped a little and now I'm beginnning to settle in. But I still have problems."
With most of their homes in order, the final step for many to get back to what life used to be is landscaping. The flood washed out grass and swallowed up plants, so fresh sod has started sprouting around the neighborhood.
Watching life begin anew has provided perspective for Kazzee, who counts her blessings every day.
"We've got a lot to be thankful for," Kazzee said. "Our lives were spared. We had people to come in and help us, and, one day, I would like to be able to help somebody else. I hope it's not through this, but, if it is, I hope I'm there to help them."