Grateful For Rainbows

Here is some irony for you... my Facebook post from Thursday, July 12, 2012 @ 9:35am.

Seriously.  I had no idea that in 24 hours or so, my family would literally be leaving our house in a boat.  I posted that after dropping the boys off at school and heading out to run some errands in the rain.  But as I told the lady who questioned my sanity and Bed Bath and Beyond, I had rather brave the rain for errands than take 2 toddlers for errands in the sunshine ANY DAY of the week :-) I pick the boys up at 2pm on Thursday's and as I left my house, I was not able to cross the bridge over the creek on the main road through our neighborhood. I immediately called my neighbor Kara because she works basically on the other side of the bridge.  After taking the long way to the school and back, she called me and told me to meet her in the neighborhood to show me some pictures.  She also said she sent them to her husband (Mr. Brad) and he said, "Kara, I have to get off the phone. I am coming home right now to move stuff" Yep, she was slightly freaking out.  Here are the pictures from 2:00ish on Thursday.  Little did we know we were about to get 14 INCHES in 2 DAYS!!

The main road
cypress creek

the playground we go to - skate park barely sticking out

our walking path! Normally sidewalk goes under bridge
but you can't see it at all

Literally by 3:00pm the sun was shining.  The rain had stopped. She sent me a text saying she thought we were going to be good because no more rain for the day, etc.  Justin and I went to the movies and when we came home there was a barricade with a sign about high water but we were still able to cross.  We parked in the drive way and came on in like normal.   Here is a recap of how Friday went down.

5:30 am - Justin gets up to go to the gym.  Little bit of water in the road but nothing major.

7:00am - I wake up and find 10 missed calls from Justin on my phone.  I call him back and he is FREAKING on the phone.  He said he left the gym but that he couldn't get back to our house.  He said Dad's car is under water. He was on his way to a 7:30am meeting but that we needed to find out what was going on and check the water level on the garage.

Dad's rental car

first shot of the backyard

just starting to creep under the door

and up the sidewalk
7:10am- Dad and I go out to see and find his rental car partially under water.  Neighbors are wading around.  

7:20am - Dad decides to move the car.  Makes it successfully out of the water although the entire car is 4 inches deep in water.  

7:45am - water is coming into the garage and creeping up the sidewalk and back porch.  We start moving somethings in the garage.  

8:15am - its really coming in the garage.  Thank goodness Dad and I work out and had tons of adrenaline because I have no idea how the 2 of us moved the deep freeze together from the front corner of the garage to the back porch.  We moved everything we could. The fridge, tools, filing cabinets, saws, shop vac, compressors, seeking higher ground.

1st step under on the back porch

9:00 - Justin makes it home. Parks out of the neighborhood and wades home.  I have to tell you even at this point, we still didn't think it would rise high enough that we couldn't stay.  Brad and Kara call to say that they have inches of water in their living room.  I slightly start to freak out.

9:30 - Justin and Poppy are moving things outside and working hard.  Bugs are EVERYWHERE.  Every rock is covered with roaches, huge slugs, beetles, ticks, ants, you name it.  Every disgusting creepy crawly was on the house, porch, sidewalks.. Oh, and the water is creeping up.

over the top step now!

slugs! roaches, ants, ticks, creepy creepy crawly things
9:45 - Jen texts me.  "Are you evacuating" I tell Justin and Poppy, we need a plan in case the water comes in. Poppy uses his mad engineering skills to calculate that the rate the water is rising (1/2 inch every 15 minutes or so) that we have hours before it will flood the lower recessed part of my living room. Awesome.

Time to go folks!

10:15 - boys have a snack. Water is now throughout the garage and almost covering back porch.  Poppy comes and says.  You need to pack. They are saying not to use the water. Its only a matter of time before we lose power.  The dogs need to go, the boys need to go.  

I literally grab trash bags because its the only thing I could think to keep our stuff dry while we tried to evacuate and started packing.  This is when it became so real to me.  My mind was racing on what to take. I walked the rooms and thought what in here would I take if I knew that this stuff might be gone when I get back?  A few clothes for me (I forgot underwear though :-) clothes for the boys, makeup, jewelry, a few toys for the boys (specifically Eli packed Lightening McQueen, Woody, Elmo ABC book, dinosaurs and dinosaur book) I got the boys swim suits, swimmies, pullups, 1 pair of shoes each, flipflops for me, tennis shoes, and electronics. Camera, Ipad, Mac, Iphone and chargers.  Let it be known right here that my husband packed 4 pairs of shoes. Yep 4.  We see who has the priorities right?  Ha!  I also have a duffle bag that stays packed with their travel boosters, travel beds, etc.  That was so easy to grab. 

I raced through the house pulling out memory boxes that I had packed of boys stuff, wedding, etc and stacked them to go in the attic.  I wasn't super panicked about photos.  Most of what we have on the walls I also have digital copies of backed up and stored.  Our "papers" and any real valuables are all in the safe box at the bank.  

As soon as I got things together, Justin started wading them to the car.  He even took the car seats out like that. Held over his head, water up to his chest.  Guess how I got out?  On Justin's shoulders! Here are the pictures I took on the way out on his shoulders.  So nervous I was going to drop my phone in the water!

my hero

neighbor Eddy

and the mailbox goes totally under before its over.

coming up the main street of our neighborhood
right past the silver suv on the left it gets chest deep

the intersection that my house is on the corner of

The plan was to take me out first then I could wait there while they brought the boys on their shoulders.  Little did we know that when Justin got me out the police were already there with boats to evacuate people.  Apparently there was a 911 call from our neighborhood that a pregnant female needed to be rescued.  Thank you neighbor for calling!

It was the most surreal feeling to turn that corner and see the flashing lights, the boats, the barricades, and the news crews.  It hit me all at once and as Jen came down the street and I saw her face she said "how are you" and I just lost it for the first time.  I was trying to be brave because the boys were scared but it was such a scary overwhelming feeling just not knowing what was going to happen.  The police were so serious about the rescue.  I heard them ask what house over the radio and I said the 2nd on the right.  The guy came back over the radio and said "would be the one with some young duck hunter in a pair of waders in the yard?" Yep!  That would be the one.  I heard him say after a few minutes they had 2 toddler males, 2 dogs, and an adult male in route.  Jen and I got as close as we could to take pictures.

 And for our 15 minutes of fame, check this link to see our rescue:  Firefighters Rescue Cypress Creek Families

Let me just thank Jen and her friend Ashley.  Jen has a 16 month old and Ashley has a 4 week old baby.  In minutes, Ashley brought her baby to Jen's house to watch Ben and Jen jumped in the car to come get us.  She also lightened the mood with the boys because they were crying and upset when they got in car.  Her song choice was very fitting.. "Arky Arky" So here we are going down the interstate, the rain is falling on us, the future of my home is uncertain and we are all signing arky arky "children of the Lord" at the top of our lungs. Comical at best.

Side note:  She took us through Chik Fil A because we were starving.  The drive thru was forever long so she went inside.  It was "dress like a cow day" and get free kids meals.  She unplanned had on black shorts and a white t-shirt.  They gave her cow stickers to put all over and she came out dressed like a cow!

The boys and I spent all day with Jen & Ben who were the best hostess and little host until we decided to get a hotel. 

see that sweet stressed out face :-(

our host with the most (adorable tummy EVER)

The boys were exhausted and extremely fussy. Eli wouldn't nap at Jen's but as soon as his dad picked him up, he was out.  He got to ride beside his best friends :-)

We went to the hotel and met Poppy.  He had a hard day .. I just wish I had a picture of Poppy being carried out on Justin's shoulders!  

catching a nap in the water!
We ate pizza, went swimming indoors  and basically waited and prayed that the water wouldn't rise over the threshold in the night.  Here are the last pictures that Justin got as he left.

yep, a  tire floating down the street

The house with the white columns is directly behind us and shares a fence
TOTAL devastation through the bottom level
Here are some pictures from a neighbor who went out in their canoes and kayaks on Friday and took pictures.

So glad thats not my car

See this road? This is the same as the one below - 24 hours later
How smart is my hubby?  He went to Walmart and got ramps and jacks to put my car on in the garage.  If it wasn't for that my car would have been totally full of water :-(  

I read in the paper the next morning at breakfast that the creek crested at 8pm.  We really had no idea if it got in our not. Poppy said he knew it didn't.  Apparently while we were gone and he was there alone, he walked the house and prayed the water away.  Now that's a good Poppy.  I got a text and a facebook message with this picture from our neighbors about 7:30am so we knew the water was down.  Not gone but down.

Poppy and Justin headed over to check out the damage and to start the cleaning up. I was praying over and over that the water didn't make it inside.  And praise be to God!  It did not. It flooded the garage (and would have my car) and we had lots of mud, bugs, and nastiness everywhere but no water inside.  Unfortunately some our neighbors didn't fair as well.  2 feet of water at The Hensley's.  The house behind us, devastation.  (and they didn't have time to move our get anything out) 

The boys occupied themselves  drove me crazy in a hotel for most of the day on Saturday.  We played every game imaginable. We explored every inch.  We ate tons of junk from the vending machines.  After a call to the workers that I was going insane, guess what?  They finally passed out cold :-) 

They got to spend a little more time with Poppy before he had to head back to the airport to go home.  We heard that the power would not be back on until Tuesday so we decided to stay in the hotel at least one more night before we invaded friends or came up with another option.  We went to dinner and then Justin needed to stop back by the house and make sure the generator (which we bought on Saturday morning to run the freezer and fridge) still had plenty of gas.  I was not prepared at all for the neighborhood, for the smell, for the overwhelming feelings that rushed at me just looking at all that happened in just 24 hours.  

water level at our neighbor Brad's house

This is a picture of his living room and his month old hardwood floors :-(
I had not seen the inside of the house since we rushed out.  I just had this feeling in my gut of reliving how fast these things can happen.  I think its like a friend and I recently talked about when she lost her father - it is hard to truly understand some things unless you have been through them.  Sure you can show empathy and think how bad it would be.  Things like infertility. Death of a parent. Loss of a baby or child.  Disaster.  I see the floods on the news many times before.  But to truly think how quickly you could lose everything.  To be in that position was eye opening to me.  Jen kept saying. "stuff is stuff" and she is so right.  Justin has walked away from this thinking what a burden "stuff" can be.  But even though it is "stuff". It's my stuff.  It has memories attached to it (most of it) I can remember who gave us what for our wedding. Or Christmas.  I can remember the experiences of picking out my furniture after graduating from college or picking out nursery furniture with Justin when I was as big as house.  Walking around and looking at the obvious speed in which we left and the work that was done in preparation just made my heart ache.  It had that same effect on Beckett and Eli too because they were both very stressed and upset when we came by the house.  

everything from Thursday night and Friday just left

piled up as much as they could from the floors and closets

across the street

power crews out working

To give you some perspective on how things normally look and some history.  Our house is one of the "newer" houses in the neighborhood built in the 80's.  They were all required to be built on elevated slabs.  The older homes that flood regularly are on regular slabs.

elevated slab

our walk that was totally under
Can you believe this shot of the water.? A MIRACLE and answer to prayers that the water didn't come in.  Thanks to everyone on facebook and through text and email that prayed for us. Prayed for the water to recede and lifted us and our neighbors up.  Truly a blessing in our time of need.

And this picture was before the crest

Late Saturday night we got a call from a neighbor that our power was back on. Awesome!  An early surprise.  We came home on Sunday morning and slowly started putting things back together. One of the sweetest moments was Justin holding Eli and Beckett's hands and leading us in a prayer of thanks for protecting our home and keeping us safe.   The only major work we had to do was remove the sheetrock from the garage because of mildew and rot worries.  Some sweet friends came over Sunday night and helped move the big pieces of furniture back in place.

All that remains in the neighborhood is the big piles of debris on the corners.  The constant sounds of dumpsters, crews, and neighbors cleaning out their wet homes.  We are returning to life "as normal".  Eli and Beckett have a new fear of storms though.  Just today we had a storm at nap time and Eli was crying. I went in his room and he said "mom - the water's in the road!" He also wouldn't sleep in his bed on the floor.  He said he was scared of the water :-(  Beckett keeps saying "its a storm its a storm"  Randomly out of the blue they will talk about it. "We ride on a boat" "water is in the road"  Or they will pick up a toy and say "dis not get in the water mom"  

Through these trials God was right there in our midst.  Poppy grabbed our hands on Friday morning, gathered Beckett and Eli in a circle and prayed for us and prayed for safety and the water to stop rising.  Friends prayed for us.  God blessed us through this by keeping us safe, showing us love from so many people, and bringing our neighborhood and community through this.  We leave this experience as different people with a better deeper understanding of those who do suffer.  We praise God for the promise of His Word and for the promise to never destroy the earth through floods again.  This kept playing in my mind while I laid in bed Sunday night.  The thought of the water just rising and rising and it not stopping as found in Genesis.  How reassuring and trusting the promises of our God. 

11  I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15  I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Grateful today for rainbows....

The Riley's