Monday, March 3, 2014

The Flood of 2013

The flood effected starting on September 12th, 2013. That day was our 4th wedding anniversary, and we had to cancel our plans to go out due to excessive rain on that day. The news was talking about flash flood warnings in various areas around us, and we thought it would be prudent to stay home.

No one thought, however, that we would soon have to evacuate our home, and no one thought that we would have flood waters rising several feet all around our house! There was no one, even on the day of the flood, warning us what a giant disaster was coming.

We went to bed that night, to the sound of the rain, but no one thought the next day would become such an adventure.

On the next morning, September the 13th (Friday the 13th, naturally)... Lisa went to work early  without problems,  and I stayed home with the girls. Around 11 am our water failed to work (due to broken water mains from the flooding, but I didn't no that at the time).  Without running water, I was unable to clean Julia, cook, or make formula. I thought it would be prudent to go to my parents house, only a few miles away.

When I tried to drive to my parents' house however, I quickly discovered that every road that connected us to them was closed... with policemen standing at the barricades. There was, in the background, the constant sound of sirens, airplanes overhead, helicopters flying around. At that time there was no rain, it had subsided in the afternoon, but there was a bit of an ominous feeling in the damp air.

At this point, I became worried that Lisa might not be able to come home to us, and see the kids that night. I decided to take us all to a hotel near her work... especially since I couldn't stay home without running water.

I quickly packed some changes of clothes, the laptop, the toothbrushes and baby food into a suitcase.

Although I had no thoughts of a flood coming, I did (thank God) lift all of my customer repairs off of the ground in my shop, thinking to myself that I was being overly paranoid. There was no water in there at the time.

We left just before we would have been evacuated anyway, although I didn't think it would ever come to that.

We stayed at a hotel near Lisa's work. She came there and was glad to see us, and especially glad to see LUcy and Julia.

The next morning, we were trying to research the roads from the hotel and see if we could go home. Lisa called us at the hotel room (she was back at work) and told me to look at one of the news websites... it was an ariel view of flooding and she could swear it was our neighbor's house, half submerged in muddy water. Incredulous, I looked it up for myself and indeed, it was our neighbors house!

This was the first indication that things truly were serious... and it was provided just by chance: Lisa catching some footage on the news.

About two days later we were able to get to my parents house, (but not back to our own house) and moved into their finished basement. Julia was fine, but Lucy was truly shook up by "the water" as she called it.

Lisa came home from work (it was a Sunday), and the next day we went to our home, working our way over a very circuitous  route (most roads were closed... as of march 2014 some roads are still closed!) and drove the van through some giant puddles to finally see our house, and snap the pictures shown here.

The whole time there was the constant sound of sirens (police and ambulances rushing from emergency to emergency), planes and helicopters flying over head. We weren't able to move home for about a month, during which time I thoroughly bleached the flooded underside of the house, and threw out tons of debris in the back yard. Our water took about a month to come back on, after which we had to boil it for a while as the pipes were possibly contaminated.

My workshop was completely flooded out, and we are still in the process of sorting through debris.

As we sloshed around in boots outside of the house, getting things we would need and piling them into the van to take to our temporary home at my parents house, many neighbors came up to us and offered to help us out... the farmers down the road, our neighbors down the street. Many church groups came around, some from out of state... they had all kinds of equipment and were offering clean up services to all who needed them.These stayed around for months after the flood.

National guard vehicles, began to be commonplace, especially manning the barricades around the closed roads.

There were huge craters in the roads.. they looked like puddles, so cars would go around the barriers and try to drive through what seemed like puddles. However, many cars were lost this way, as the "puddles" were sometimes several feet deep.

As the water receded, you could see many of these cars lying around, some upside down, and we can only pray that the drivers got out of them before they were submerged into the floodwaters. Not being a priority, abandoned upside down cars were a commonplace site around many of the roads around here.

For months, there were lakes and streams where there never had been before. There were numerous neighbors who lost their home; some neighbors took months to move back in. There was trash and debris everywhere, and the constant odor of mud.

Our septic tank needed to be pumped out, and our outbuildings became unusable. We are still recovering from the flood.

The stages that psychology has outlined for us... Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression, Acceptance... we could observe ourselves slowly going through them, not necessarily in order and not necessarily progressively... but at various points they were all there (in me at least!).

Anyway, here are some pictures.

The water came right up to the top of this crawl space. This is actually about 4 feet deep here, and completely filled up with water.