SULEYMAN: When we went door to door, we realized folks were just helpless. We had a few Somali youth leaders. They were in charge of the Murfreesboro Road area. They went into Millwood Apartments. They went in there for five minutes and called us, and they were like, ‘We can’t do this. You guys need to come out here. This is way over our heads. We don’t know what to do.’ So me and our youth organizer, Amelia, we went, and we debriefed with the volunteers, and they just said, ‘You guys have to see it for yourself.’ And I literally went in and it was (she starts to cry) like seeing a refugee camp. I’m sorry.”
ROBINSON: It’s OK.
Was it a situation, not just the confusion maybe of the individuals living in the apartment area, but was it also a situation- was the water, had it gotten quite high there?
SULEYMAN: They had evacuated the apartments, uhm, a couple days before we got in there, and then they let folks after the water had been about 8 feet in those apartments, so the first floors of the apartments were completely flooded. Uhm, so they had gone in, and folks came back after they were evacuated by boats, uhm, they’d gone in and the management wasn’t very responsive, wasn’t helping them, and we walked in it and was late. It was like around 8 o’clock-or right around sunset- and we walk in, my first image was seeing a newborn on a sofa outside by the door of the apartment, because everything had been completely ruined. And the parents were new refugees who had just come to the U.S., and the only clean place they had for their child was this sofa cushion, and they had the child outside, a newborn who was just literally days out of the hospital. And I just looked at them, and I said, ‘Is this all you have?’ And they said, “Yes, this is the only dry thing we have.”
And so, we walked in to apartment after apartment and the smell of mold, the smell of things being rotten. And right away I called a few of our active community, other community members who are non-immigrants, and said “please, help us”.