Flood Survivor Sets Her Sights on the Future
Natalie Littleton had only lived in her Paradise Lakes rental for two weeks before rapidly rising floodwaters and a mandatory emergency evacuation forced her to flee with just a few clothes, her television and a tote containing photos and important documents.
“My three kids and I had just moved out of my mother’s basement after I’d recovered from a year-long illness, and then, two weeks later, we had to move right back in again after our house and pretty much everything we owned was destroyed by the flood,” she explained.
The Salvation Army’s Disaster Relief Center (DRC) in Bellevue was a lifesaver for Natalie, who visited every week to pick up food, supplies and household items. “They had everything, even things you wouldn’t have thought of until later, when suddenly you needed them,” she said.
“They also had great resources and a wealth of information,” Natalie said. “The Salvation Army let us know that we could come every week, and they helped with financial resources for housing.”
The last year has been hard, Natalie admitted. After eight months in her mother’s basement, she was finally able to move into her own rental house in Omaha, but she still drives her two school-age children to their former school in Bellevue.
“I wanted them to have some consistency in their lives,” she said.
She also misses Paradise Lakes, where her kids could ride their bikes and the neighbors watched out for and took care of one another. “There was peace of mind there, and then boom, it was gone,” she said.
The flood was also a setback in her pursuit of an associate degree. Last spring Natalie was forced to drop her classes at Metropolitan Community College, where she was working toward a degree in healthcare management. She has since resumed her coursework and hopes to continue for a bachelor’s degree at University of Nebraska Omaha while she works as a certified nursing assistant.
She also hopes to move back to Bellevue, a community that feels like home.
“I still feel defeated sometimes,” she admitted. “But there’s also so much good that has come out of this experience, I can’t help but be optimistic.”