August 29th is my dad’s birthday…it was also the day Hurricane Harvey destroyed our home. My dad turned 72 that day and in his lifetime there has never been water or devastation in Houston like what Harvey brought. This little house we bought as a foreclosure was turned into part of Lake Houston as it rose out of it’s banks Thursday evening. Ironically, we don’t live in a flood plain and like many of our neighbors we don’t have flood insurance. Therefore, this remodeling project will be a long one, but it will be budget-minded and creative.
During this pain and devastation God has shown us His grace by blessing us with extra cash from family and friends, as well as, blessing us with people who truly care enough to come into our soggy wet home to remove hardwoods, drywall, and carpet. This is how Harvey unfolded for us:
Thursday August 28th 8:53 am: I woke to a lake in our back yard. There’s a retaining wall about 3 feet high that our fence sits atop and the water was about halfway up. This “lake” was covering the park and tennis courts.
August 28th 11:34 am: Water was creeping onto our street, but our house sits on a hill that’s 14 feet above the lake. We were concerned, but never thought it would reach our door.
August 28th 3:57 pm:
Our street was now flooded and over the curb…nerves were getting bad…
August 28th 6:22 pm:
My husband puts a “rain gauge” out at our mailbox so we can see how fast the water is rising. He marked it every 6 inches and it rose about 6 inches every 3 hours that day.
We started prepping our house in case the water came inside. Stacking furniture, removing rugs…basically moving anything we could off the floor. We have a one story home, so moving things upstairs wasn’t an option.
We finally got to bed around 1 am and the rain was still coming. The water in front and in back of our house looked like a giant river and it was moving fast. It was a very creepy scene. It looked almost like the scene in Titanic when the ship’s lights go out and all you see outward is dark rippling water. I didn’t sleep well that night. I got up at 5am and we still had power and running water. The water outside had reached our garage and we decided after texting a neighbor that the only way out was by boat since the water had risen so fast over night.
August 29th 7:42 am:
Our yard slopes down towards the fence and here the fence is covered about halfway, so approximately 3 feet in our back yard.
The boat pulled up to our door and the only thing keeping water out of the house was a caulked wooden dam that my husband made the day before. My toddler got a life vest and he was excited to get on a boat! I wasn’t so much…As I looked back towards our house before my husband closed the door I saw the water come into the house like a stream under our back window. It flooded the newly installed floor and I lost it for a moment. All the hard work on my own hands and knees at 5 months pregnant installing that stuff and Harvey ruined it. That was the last image I would have of my pristine home.
As we made our way down the street and past the intersection there was higher ground and homes that weren’t flooded. We were met by caring neighbors that helped us carry our suitcases, my baby boy, and our dog. We stayed with a neighbor for a few hours before my cousin came to pick us up. I felt like a gypsy carting all our stuff from one person’s home to another. The neighbors graciously fed us lunch and my toddler was finally able to rest.
After living at my cousin’s house a few days across town we decided that it would be easier to stay closer to our house to complete repairs when the time came. Houston is very spread out and going from the northwest side to the northeast side can sometimes take 2 hours in traffic. We applied for FEMA, but all hotels were booked and very few take pets. My husband is a Realtor and one of his clients that was out of town offered us their newly purchased unfurnished home. I was beyond appreciative! When you feel as though you have nothing, you become grateful to have a roof over your head.
Finally, the water had receded and we were able to view the aftermath. It was extremely emotional. I remembered to grab my camera before we left so I’ll just let you view the images. The only thing the pictures can’t show you is the smell and the muck the dirty water left behind. It smelled like rotting salty fish and the mud was slippery and slimy feeling under my feet.
Home Sweet Home…not so much anymore little pillow.
Our kitchen and everything we stacked. My husband removed our cabinet doors – good thinking!
The hardwood floors are completely buckled. Look by the fireplace.
My son’s room. We saved most of his toys. Although his box spring was ruined, as was ours.
My son’s play area and the last toy he played with that morning was left on the floor.
You can see the water line on the drywall is about 1 foot high here.
Here you can see the muck left behind on the lower shelves.
Another view of the water line. We didn’t get as much water as some of our neighbors who are now gutting their whole first floor, but it’s enough to keep us busy.
Again, I’ll say God is good all the time. He has helped us come up with a plan to overcome this and He has motivated others to be generous enough to help us and everyone else in our city get through this. Stay faithful and stay tuned. Lots of “remodeling” to come.