Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Hurricane Harvey and the aftermath

I will never forget August 27, 2017. Sadly, our home flooded during Hurricane Harvey. There is so much I want to say about this. About the care our friends and community gave us. About how much good came out of such heartbreak. We have completed all our repairs. It took 8 months of back-breaking work.
 
It has been such a wild ride. I pretty much hung on to the bottom of Jesus' garment as he steered me through this mess. I couldn't have made it without His direction and comfort. He showed me that "he has me" during all of this. Our needs were all met even before we knew we had them. Daily miracles happened during those first few months.
 
Here we are 9 months out. I have a little perspective. A little less dust. A little more appreciation for all that has been accomplished. 
 
Our dear friend came to stay with us a month before to have surgery. She was recovering with us when everything happened. She had a still-open scar on her leg, walking on crutches and very much on the mend.
 
August 28, 2017 - It had been raining for days. Pretty much non-stop. Our neighborhood was designed well and we never so much as had water back up in the street even in the hardest of storms. We didn't fear flooding. In fact, we called friends to come and stay with us as their neighborhoods were already flooding. Unfortunately (or fortunately), they couldn't get out of their neighborhood. The tornado warnings were constant. We received hundreds of them in the past few days. Hundreds. I eventually turned them off because I couldn't stand it any longer. I told my husband, "if it is my time to go, I'm ready. A tornado can take me. I don't care at this point". He laughed and turned his off too. It was maddening. The storm just swirled over us. Over and over. Dumping rain every time it passed. It was stuck on top of us with no end in sight.
 
A neighbor boy came over and told us to move our cars up in the driveway as the water was rising in the street. Snugglebunny ran out in the rain and moved them as close as he could to the garage doors. He came in and told me what was happening. I peeked out to see the water in the street. I was shocked to find it was already on our front porch and rising fast. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Within minutes it had engulfed our yard. Soon it started seeping under the door. We tried in vain to use towels to stop the flow. We eventually gave up.
 
My thoughts turned to my friend here after surgery. There was no way she could stay in this house because we didn't know how quickly the waters were rising. We have a 1 story house, so there was nowhere to go. We started picking everything we cared about up out of the water. We had only minutes to do it. I looked over and saw my husband sitting on the couch in a daze. I had to give him tasks to keep him on track. He was shutting down. He later told me he was thinking about all the work he had ahead. He had no idea really.
 
About that time, our precious neighbor Karen called us. They have a 2 story and offered for us to stay. My friend and I decided to go. Snugglebunny and my boys decided to stay home with the dogs and guard the house. I didn't have a choice. I had to get my friend out of my flooding house. We only had moments to decide what to do as the water was coming in fast. We accepted the offer. Our brave neighbors waded through the water to help us. My friend was still on crutches, but the water was thigh high so I had her use me for balance and we started across the yard. Her incision was covered in the nasty water. As soon as we got in, I had one of the boys give me by bug-out bag which we had grabbed on our way out and pulled out the alcohol wipes and cleaned her wound quickly hoping to stave off any ill effects.
 
We stayed up all night in our neighbors upper spare bedroom that faced the street and looked out on the rising water. It eventually stopped rising. It almost covered the hoods of the cars still parked in the street. My friend and I talked and I intermittently prayed out loud. I snoozed off at some point, totally exhausted, but woke up again quickly. I don't even remember sleeping. I watched the large all-terrain rescue vehicles go up and down our streets viewing the damage and patrolling. I kept texting my husband and boys who assured me the water had finally stopped rising. There was approximately 4" of water in the house. Some places had more or less. Early in the morning, they opened the dam and the water quickly went down. My friend and I thanked our neighbors and quickly went next door to see the damage. It was heartbreaking. The floors were already buckling. The cheap baseboards were swelling and popping off the walls. Everything on the floor was gone. Rugs were destroyed. Books swollen and damaged. Doors and door jambs were starting to swell and didn't allow us to close the doors anymore.
 
My husband and boys wasted no time. They immediately started pulling out wet sheetrock, baseboards, flooring, insulation and destroyed items. They are my heroes. The pile in front of our house became quite huge. It made me sick to look at it. Immediately, we had people start showing up to help. The Wells family were amongst the first. They brought their willing hands and Chris' skill with everything construction. They were our angels and we will love them forever.
 
My Uncle Bill called from Louisiana with offers of help. At that time, we were in such a daze we didn't know what to do and what we needed. He had been through a flood and knew exactly what needed to be done. He gave us some much needed direction. He loaded up a trailer full of supplies and came from Louisiana when the roads were clear and helped Greg and boys learn what to do. He was amazing. We love you Uncle Bill.
 
About this time, my friend started telling me she wasn't feeling right. We got her in to see the doctor (who insisted we come up to the hospital and saw her between surgeries. He was a blessing.). He immediately admitted her and hooked her up with an infectious specialist who put her on the strongest antibiotics known to man. After 4 days in the hospital, she was allowed to go home. We are grateful to the doctors, nurses and staff at Methodist hospital that took amazing care of her and saved her leg and her life.
 
My husband was overwhelmed while we were in the hospital. He called me and told me he couldn't make the myriad of decisions by himself. I felt so guilty leaving him for 4 days, but we had no choice. I did as much as I could by phone. During that time, the FEMA inspector came out and surveyed the damage. Three (3) days after that the money was wired to our checking account. We are so grateful for the speed that this was done. We were shocked at how well it was handled. Granted, it wasn't a lot of money, but we figured it would put a pretty good dent in the materials we had to purchase.
 
Friend after friend showed up with meals, water, money, materials and whatever we told them we needed. Many brought things we needed before we could ask. In spite of all this disaster, I can truly say we never wanted for anything. God took amazing care of us through His people. We had so much given, we were able to give our overflow to our neighbors. If they had a need, we put it out to our amazing community of people and the need was immediately met. Immediately. As fast as we gave things away, it came right back. It was miracle after miracle. I found out who our true friends and family are. Many people who I hadn't expected to help us out, ended up being those who gave us the most. People that couldn't afford it, gave us the most money. I am flabbergasted to this day. God used the unexpected. He likes to do that I think. He surprised me every day.
 
Many came and prayed with us. Those prayers are burned into my soul forever. The Rinke family came and prayed that we would be better off than we started. An impossibility at the time. However, those words came true. We are truly better off than before the storm. Our home is much nicer, we are closer to our neighbors and friends, our community is stronger, my faith has grown incredibly.
 
Thank you to all our friends and family, near and far, that supported us during this journey of recovery. We are forever grateful for your hearts and your generosity to us. We are happy to say thanks to our Father God, we are truly recovered and better than ever.
Chris, our wonderful friend!
 
My sweet Misty! Love this family!
 
What a mess
 
Poor Snugglebunny fell asleep in the middle
of eating. He was so exhausted from working hard.
 
Pile of soggy belongings. Such a sad sight.
 
Starting to recover.
 
My daily look for 8 months
 
Getting ready for new flooring!
 

 
Chris taught us so much!
 
Chris and Zack working on the dining room wall treatment
 
One determined family!
 
I learned how to mud, float and
texture.
 
Zack did excellent work!
 
 
 

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