Thursday, September 1, 2011

Flood clean up

What a crazy few months we have had.  We moved from Minot, ND to Bossier City, LA just 2 months ago.  Right before we left, an evacuation order was issued due to flooding. Fortunately, we were going to buy a new house anyway, so we weren't homeless for too long.  As we were on our way to LA, the flood hit. After 3 weeks, the water receded so I had to turn around and go back to clean up. Mr. Apple deployed and missed all the "fun" : (

Our house is approximetely 1/2 mile from the Mouse River, although we have a side channel of it in our backyard.  The side channel is used to hold rain, so it won't affect the water level of the main river.  At the crest, there was nearly 8 feet of water on the main level, making the water outside about 10 feet deep. 

Here are a few pictures of the flood at different stages.  This is a picture of our neighbor's house, directly across the street, taken by a news crew in a boat.  This was at the crest.  My jaw literally dropped when I saw it.

This is my neighboorhood, about a block from my house.

Aerials of our neighborhood:

Flooding is different from most disasters.  Ours came with plenty of warning, so people had days to get things out of the house.  There were also no deaths.  But there was plenty of destruction.

This flood was a very slow event, compared to other diasters.  It took about a week after the river overflowed the dikes before it crested, and several weeks after that before it got low enough for us to go back.  During this time, we had no idea how deep the water was or what the damage was.  We only saw a few pictures of the neighborhood here and there.

As the water going down, my friend walked down our soggy street and took this first picture of our house.

You can see the mud going all the way up to the top of the door.

The next few picture ares what I saw when I got back to my neighborhood, before going in the house.

This is another neighbor's house.  He found 3 porches at his house, none of which are his. He is not rebuilding.

My greenhouse disappeared completely...

...only to be discovered in my neighbor's backyard, along with someone's play structure and a handful of tricycles!

I saw this in the middle of the road.

This is the view I saw as soon as we entered the flood zone.  The side of the road is completely filled with stuff.  It's mostly household goods at this point, but a few days later and it would all be covered with moldy sheetrock, large appliances, slimy carpets, and more.

My next door neighbors had their foundation crack, so they got the "structurally unstable" yellow tape.  They are not rebuilding either. Later, the house next door to them would get the yellow tape too.  He is not sure if he is rebuilding.  He is an older man and is staying at the shelter.  The only thing he got out was his cat.

On a slightly lighter note, Sprite shows how high the water was.  The trees are dead where they were underwater. 10 feet deep! I don't think many of the trees in my yard will make it.  The roots must have been damaged from staying under water for so long.

So that's the neightborhood.  Pretty ugly, but it was nothing compared to the inside of the house.  Here is the absolutely horrific first look I had of the inside of my house.  The kitchen.

That picture still makes my stomach flip-flop. The cabinets and microwave fell down, the fridge had floated and landed in the middle of the floor, and EVERYTHING was covered in a layer of muddy MOLD. 

The rest of the house was not much better:

Crazy, isn't it?  We pretty much had to gut the whole main level, down to the studs.  All the appliances, light fixtures, etc. had to go too.

I could get the garage door open because it was off its runners and the man door was swollen shut, so I had to break down a wall (with my bare hands, it was so wet) to get in the garage the first time.  This was my view:

It looks (and smells) like a slaughterhouse!  Insulation is NASTY when it is moldy.  The whole ceiling came down. You can't tell, but it's on the floor in pieces under a layer of mud/mold slime.

We found a couple of windows in an interior wall what used to be an exterior one.

 There was smelly water in the light fixture!

My nice, clean garage, with all the insulation and drywall out.  Much improved.  It took 3 days to get it this way, with help.

The debris after 2 days of gutting!  This was less than half, and our house was EMPTY when the flood hit!

My war wounds. They didn't photograph well, but my whole forearm was bruised and the joints in my hands were tight and swollen from gripping the hammer, pulling out drywall with my hands, and carrying buckets.  I could barely make a fist in the mornings.

 Do you see that??? I thought I was imagining it...

Yes, a giant salamander in my basement! I threw him back in the river.  I think he was happy to go!

The clean living room!

Looking from the dining room, through the bathroom, into the kitchen, then the garage.  This was very weird to me.

MUCH better!  This was after gutting, powerwashing, and fungicide.

We planted a tiny pine tree in out dead lawn.  It's nice to have a little green back!

A turtle on a picnic table in the river.

 Our neighbor, me, my father in law, and Sprite, posing with one of our eagles.  The other one got broken in the flood, probably by the greenhouse floating by (or one of Dave's new porches??)

After 3 weeks, the house was clean and dry enough for Sprite to go in. She thought it was SO big! Some of the walls were 1 layer of plaster and 3 layers of drywall, so without them it was bigger!

 Sprite peeks our from our temporary home, a small camper bought just for this purpose.

It's good to be back and (relatively) settled in our new house.  Sprite is in preschool, I am back sewing, and Mr. Apple is still deployed so he's still missing all the fun.  I am looking forward to getting a lot done this fall, including one-size cloth diapers, which is first on my list!

Thanks for "listening"!



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