When friends, family members, and coworkers introduce me to people, they oftentimes mention that I write a newspaper column. These new people frequently respond by tilting their heads or raising their eyebrows, as if they assume I attempt to establish political discourse or sway public opinion with my words. To disabuse them of these notions, I quickly explain that my columns are instead meant to entertain readers with nonsensical slice-of-life musings.

For the most part, I don’t focus on serious issues in this-here space. Instead, I want readers to know they can come here for a chuckle or two, usually at my expense.

But I don’t feel like chuckling this week.

I suffer from insomnia, so I heard the heavy rains Wednesday night into Thursday morning. By the way, it didn’t help the insomnia. But I finally drifted into sleep and when I woke Thursday morning and checked my messages, I learned flooding had occurred near my niece’s house. Fortunately, she and her family had been spared.

As I would soon learn, so many others weren’t as fortunate.

The photos and videos coming out of counties such as Knott, Letcher, and Breathitt here in Eastern Kentucky left me shaken. When a friend told me he believed this would surpass the destruction of the 1977 flood, I initially doubted him. Despite the evidence, I was in denial.

Then I heard the death count and that they couldn’t get an accurate tally on the number of missing people. They expected the death count to rise. As of this writing, it has and is.

Due to these sobering facts and the horrific images that continued to come from neighboring counties, it didn’t take long for me to snap out of my denial.

Since then, I’ve vacillated between anger, sadness, and gratitude.

Anger because that’s my default emotion and because of looting. Anyone who goes into a flooded home or business with the intention of stealing deserves to contract a bacterial infection.

Sadness doesn’t need an explanation.

Gratitude because of the outpouring of help. From meals to water to cleaning supplies, there has been no shortage of donations.

People have also offered of themselves. On Thursday, I saw a photo of a 17-year-old girl in Whitesburg. The girl sat on the top of a house with her dog. After the family’s home flooded, she placed her dog in a carrier that would float and swam to that housetop. She and the dog remained there, on top of that house, for hours until they were rescued by a kayaker.

As I sat down to compose this column, a friend sent me a video titled Chloe’s Story, which showed the rescue of Chloe and her dog. My friend wrote that it was good to see that story come full circle.

At least that’s what I think she wrote. It was hard to read with watery eyes.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.