Floods and Stuff | What We've Been Up To Lately

Well my last post was all about how excited I was to start our One Room Challenge space, a bathroom in our mother-in-law apartment. We were trying to get it renovated and ready for my in-laws who were moving in. We got it gutted to the studs that week. But then Hurricane Matthew came straight for us instead of turning as predicted originally.

It actually turned on top of us, just sitting and dumping rain. This was a bad one for us. Usually this wouldn't have been as big of an issue but because of the renovations and because my brother and his family were in the process of moving, we had a lot of furniture and other stuff stored down there. 

We hustled to get as much stuff upstairs as possible, moving furniture and boxes as quickly as we could. By the end we were sloshing in a few inches of water down there already. Couches, mattresses, a refrigerator and freezers couldn't fit up the stairs. We had the garage door sandbagged four feet high and water was already piling up on the other side of it so we couldn't get anything out that way. We put everything we couldn't get out on folding tables and saw horses to get it as high as we could. We were hoping it would only get a couple of feet deep and they would be safe. Almost every room of the main level of the house was crammed with stuff from the garage.

I'm thankful that a neighbor we had never met stopped by early in the morning, just before the storm hit and warned us that if water started coming across the road from that side of the creek, we needed to get out immediately because there would be multiple feet of water coming in. We got over 15" of rain that day. My husband left a 5 gallon bucket out to measure rainfall. It filled up, overflowed, and eventually floated away.

My husband kept a close eye on the water levels all day on Saturday and when it became inevitable that the water was going to come across the road, he sent us out around 6pm, during the height of the storm unfortunately.

I was not as prepared as I should have been and scrambled to grab clothes and favorite stuffed animals for our four kids at the last minute. Hopefully there won't be a next time, but if there is I certainly learned my lesson about hurricane preparedness. We made it out safely with our vehicles but it was dicey. Before he left, my husband pulled the power to the house.

We checked on the house the next morning, Sunday, and the water was still flowing across the road into our property and too deep to get close.  I was so worried because we had no way to know how deep it actually was at the house.

Later that afternoon the water was slowing.  With the help of some friends boating us in, we were finally able to see the house. 

This was our driveway at this point!

The water had gone up to five feet deep and was already heading down. We were so relieved!

By Monday the water was almost completely gone and we were able to come back home. I was beyond excited at how quickly the water subsided.

We pumped the last of the water out of the garage since the water had trouble draining on its own. The force of the water coming in had broken in the garage door.

The force of the water coming in had also thrown our shelving units around. I had bags of grass seed on shelves by the garage door that I found in the back left corner of the garage. Sandbags had been pushed back that far too.

Yes it was only the garage, and yes its was only stuff. It's not the loss of stuff that is the hardest to deal with, it's the emotional toll that something like this takes on a person.  Also it was three households' belongings. That equals a lot of mess to clean up and other peoples' losses to take into account. 

Those tables we had put the big furniture on had fallen over.

Unfortunately several boxes that contained housewares and toys got left behind in the hurry. 

So we began pulling all of the mess out of the garage Monday afternoon and into Tuesday. Friends came by to help us sort the destroyed from the salvageable and we sure were grateful.

Tuesday afternoon we began to notice water slowly creeping in from behind us, from the river side of our property this time. We spent a sleepless Tuesday night watching water levels and moving things to higher ground. This is what it looked like by Wednesday morning.

I made it out Wednesday morning to take the kids to school and then stopped to buy groceries because we expected to stay through what we thought would be some minor nuisance flooding. We had our vehicles parked on the side of the road up a ways, on dry ground. By Wednesday mid- morning when I got home the water was about two feet deep around the house. We got the groceries in though! Our spirits were still positive and we figured we would just wait the water out this time.

I checked the water height at our kids' playset all day. It was a good way to measure. It was rising about 6" every four hours. 

Our little guy was having the time of his life paddling around the yard with Daddy.

When the water reached about 5' deep again, we decided to leave again. It was very disappointing to see the water at the same depth as it had been before. It was also very worrisome because we had no idea how deep it might get.

My husband stayed at the house most nights while the kids and I stayed with relatives.  He kept fans running by generator to keep air flowing throughout the upstairs and to kept an eye on the water level. The report was grim, going up every day until it was 7' deep on the low side, where the garage is. Then we had only about 18" before it was inside the house itself.  

I've never paid so close attention to river cresting reports and forecasts, but I awaited each update anxiously every day. Finally after almost a week the water went down two inches. That high water line was a beautiful sight to me! 

The water slowly went down over the next few days. I was so ready to move back home! 
The flood waters took out our water heaters, main electrical breakers, the electrical in the garage, and our geothermal heating and air system. We had the electrical fixed and inspected quickly, thanks to my cousin who is the best electrician in town!

Then we could finally go home. We didn't have hot water for a few days but I didn't even care. We began the huge job of cleaning up again. 


Thankfully lots of friends gave up their Saturday afternoon and helped us sort things again, walk the woods to find things that washed away, haul off the trash, and disinfect what we saved. It would have taken weeks for us to accomplish all of that. A few of my treasures were recovered from the woods.

I have to say we have been absolutely overwhelmed by the love we have been shown and the support and help we have received through all of this.  It came from our local and distant friends and family, and surprisingly from people I have connected with in the blogging and Instagram world. Thank you to all of you who housed us, brought us meals, helped in the cleanup, let us borrow equipment, did our laundry, and sent gifts.  We will never forget the flood of love we were given.

So now things are getting back to normal-ish. We have hot water and temporary heat. One of our next projects will hopefully be redesigning the mechanical systems, installing the new geothermal heat pumps up on the main level of the house, so if this ever happens again (hopefully not) it won't be as devastating.  So stay tuned for upcoming posts about all of that and our continuing renovations on the house.  One day soon we will also get back to renovating that bathroom!