Saturday, September 17, 2016

Flood Part 3: Evacuation

There aren't many pics of this part of the story.  Things started to get a little frantic.  One of Bryce's high school friends is now a volunteer fireman.  He was in contact with Bryce and let him know that they were coming to our neighborhood to evacuate, but couldn't give us a time.  I knew he would come for us, so I wasn't stressed about that.  I was, however stressed about the fact that it would be dark before long. 

Another family from the back of the neighborhood came to our house to wait for the boats.  This couple brought with them their 6 and 4 year old, their nanny, two elderly large dogs and a grandfather who is paralyzed on half his body. 

This is how we tried to keep him dry as the water rose.

As we waited, one of our best friends came in a boat, driven by a local guy just helping out.  He already had Cade and Gideon with him (again....we did NOT think we would be flooding!).  They had room for 3 more people.  The decision I made next haunts me a bit, but in that split second, I did what I thought was best.  Thankfully, it all worked out. 

There are 2 exits from our neighborhood to the main road.  My parents live 5 minutes from the point this boat was dropping off.  I had already been in contact with them and knew that my dad would be waiting at the fire station on that corner for us.  I decided to send Braden and the girls with Cade and Gideon.  I didn't really understand how hairy the boat ride would be until I took another boat out later.  Had I known, I would have gone instead of Braden.  Physically, though, if something had happened, Braden is stronger than me and would have had a better chance of saving the girls.  They left, but ended up going to pick up some more people before they left the neighborhood.  We didn't know they were doing that.  A while later, their boat passed in front of our house and was severely overloaded.  Richard panicked and started yelling at them.  He knew that they would be crossing the canal and the current was fierce at that point.  He had just come through there a couple of hours before.  We literally stood on my front porch and listened, trying to hear if they flipped or not.  Just typing this makes my chest tighten.  They made it. 

We later found out that there were 2 dogs on the boat with them.  When everyone got out of the boat, the large dog attacked the small dog and killed it!  I am so grateful that Cade saw things were going sour and took the girls and started running up the street with them.  Because of this, they didn't see that happen!  You can imagine the panic and screaming going on during all of this!  I also found out later that the boys were very nervous during the boat ride.  They had already decided who was in charge of which girl if something happened.  This makes me both proud and also want to throw up!

They made it, and my dad was there waiting for them.  He took them to their house and then went back to the fire station to wait for us. 

That boat never returned for us, which is probably the best thing.  I think Richard might have punched the driver if he showed back up!  He was trying to help as many people as he could, but things could have turned out much differently.

So Richard, Bryce, Hazel, myself, and our friends waited for the firemen to come.  As it got dark, we called 911 asking to be rescued.  Having the other family with us was concerning because the grandfather was in no condition to go through this.  It wasn't long before Bryce's friend yelled from a boat "We are coming to you".  He got out of the boat and said "mom!" as I gave him the biggest hug.  I told him I knew he would come for us.  We all loaded into this boat and began to boat out of the neighborhood.  At this point, it was dark and you could only see the tops of the mailboxes.  I ended up sitting in the back of the boat by the driver.  The other firemen were holding big spotlights but the driver couldn't see over the people in the boat.  I had brought a little flashlight with me and started shining it on the mailboxes and telling him which way the road was turning.  It was a maze to get out of there and not hit a mailbox or electrical box or a flooded car!  As we took off in that direction, I realized we were going to the other entrance of the neighborhood.

I'm not going to lie, that boat ride was terrifying.  I was holding my friend's 4 year old and my little flashlight.  When we hit the current of the main road, I was terrified.  We started taking on water and going into the trees.  What a crazy ride.  We made it to the entrance and realized it had been turned into a full fledged rescue operation.  Boats coming and going bringing boatloads of residents out of the neighborhood. 

My house, earlier in the day :(

This is the only picture I have of that boat ride, taken by my friend.  I was too busy with the flashlight to get my phone out ;)

We called my dad and realized that the water had been steady rising, there was no way he could get to us at that side of the neighborhood.  In fact, when he went back to his house, it was questionable that he would be able to make it back.  He drove through some super high water to make it back.

 This is looking down the road we boated out of.  This was the boat launch.

So...we realize my dad can't come, stare at each other for a second and then get on the bus that stopped in front of us!  We had no idea where it was going.  Here is a picture of the bus I took a couple weeks later.  It makes me laugh every time I look at it with those flames, and it was a part of so many people's story!

We had no idea where the bus was taking us, but before we ended up at a shelter, it drove towards town a little to pick up some more people.  It was shocking to see the number of people standing on the street and in parking lots.  Really unthinkable of how many people were affected.  Hundreds of people ended up sleeping in those parking lots that night.  We were very blessed.

The bus drove through some crazy scary water and dropped us off at a local church gym.  We have never been to a shelter before and had no idea what to expect.  Richard was completely exhausted.  He had been traveling and spent the entire day trying to get home to us...then out of our home.  He literally lay down on the gym floor, covered his eyes and went to sleep! 

It amazes me.  I knew better than to even try to sleep.  It was not happening for me!  Not to mention that I knew lots of other people in the shelter and I was busy visiting with them :)  We only stayed in the gym for a couple of hours because the water was still rising and threatening to come into the gym.  They moved us into the new church building, which made for a very comfy shelter, complete with a coffee bar!

I have lots of shelter stories I want to write, so I'll post those next.  I am happy to be writing all of this, just for myself.  I feel like it's helping me sort it all out in my brain!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Flood Part 2 August 13

The next morning, I was relieved to see the water looked to recede a little bit overnight.  Richard got to the airport early and was able to catch an earlier flight to try to make it home.  It was questionable if he would be able to make it, however, because the interstates were being closed and roads were flooding all around us.

The boys decided to empty the freezer and grill anything they found.

Yes, If you're counting...there's an extra boy.  I'm telling you, there was no way we thought we were flooding!

My brother and his family live on the other side of the same river.  We had a group message going with our dad keeping up with each other.  We were both in the same situation.  I put my dad in charge of helping Richard get home from the airport in New Orleans while checking on which roads were closed.  It took him 6 hours to get us to our town by going around flooded areas.  He drives a really big truck and that came in handy! 

He finally made it to us by parking as close as he could and getting a friend to bring him to the house in a boat.  It must have been around 4:00 in the afternoon by the time he made it to us.  It was becoming more apparent that we would be taking on water.

And the water came.  Fast!!  Our plan was to stay at the house upstairs, but when the water started coming in and sewage started to back-up, there was no way we were staying there overnight!

The Not So Great Flood of 2016 - August 12

I have so much to share from the past few months.  Richard and I literally came home from an amazing trip to Japan, watching Cade play baseball for Team USA, to dealing with an epic flood 3 days later.  We are now 5 weeks out from the day of the flood, and our entire community is dealing with huge losses.

I want to share pics I've taken along the journey.  I need a record of it for myself mainly.  This flood was caused from a crazy system that developed right on top of our small town.  Literally!

Thursday, Richard was out of town working when it started raining.  No big rains all the time.  Not like this though.  By the time Thursday night rolled around, there had been so much rain that announcements were made that schools would be closed Friday because of flash floods.  It still didn't phase me.  We are not in a flood zone and have never had trouble with water before.

This is what things looked like Friday morning:

 As the day progressed and the water rose, I started to worry.  Social media gave me more reason to worry as I started seeing reports of people flooding.  Also, the rain was not supposed to stop.  I started face-timing with Richard, showing him the water level and letting him know I was worried.  At some point in the late afternoon, we lost power. 

We started preparing for water, even though I really didn't believe we were going to flood.  The boys and I started lifting all furniture we could and taking pictures and important things upstairs. 

Did you know that during a flood, millions of spiders come from the flooded yard to your porch?  Yes...they do!  And many of them are carrying their sacs of eggs with them!!!!!!  It is disgusting!  The boys spent lots of time killing spiders.  Literally gives me chills just writing about it!

This is the last picture I took before it turned dark.  We hunkered down upstairs.  The kids were able to sleep.  I was not.  I laid there in the heat and dark, listening to the rain pour all night long.  I kept going downstairs to look around, thinking there would be water.

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