It seems like such a long time ago. Harvey brought all of that flooding at the end of August and here it is, the beginning of 2018, and it's time to start the rebuilding process. That's four months of life as unusual, four months of decision making up to this point. It feels as though nothing has happened, but the decision making started the night of the storm.
Was I going to stay up and watch the news or was this just another rain storm? Once everyone went to bed, what would have to happen for me to wake everybody up? I decided to move all three vehicles to high ground earlier in the evening, thus saving them from the flood waters. Then, there was the decision to leave the house at 2:30 in the morning as the waters lapped at the front door. That turned out to be a good decision because the water wouldn't stop until five feet of that cold nasty stuff came through the house. When the waters receded, the muck-out stage came. Where could we get help to do the impossible? What could be saved? Then, the house was empty, devoid of any life.
We wanted to rebuild as quickly as possible. However, we had been through this flood stuff before during Allison in 2001. Back then, only one foot of water came through the house, flowing in one day and exiting the next. After twelve inches of water we stripped out flooring and 24 inches of sheetrock. We put it all back together and we were back in the house in just a few months. Harvey on the other hand was going to be very different. Harvey brought five feet of water swirling around the house for almost a week, making me wish it was 2001 all over again.
The waters did recede many days after they rushed in. We did get help mucking out the house and stripping everything to the ceiling out of the house. Eventually, we looked around the empty shell of what used to be the home we raised our kids in. We had some dirty studs, some brick on the outside walls, and some shingles over our heads. We knew we stood at a crossroad. You see, in the world of flood plains, we live and die by the "50% rule." If your house sustains more than 50% of monetary damage as compared to the county's appraised value of your property, you cannot get a permit to rebuild unless you show the city how you plan to mitigate future flood damages. This usually involves raising the slab, using flood resistant materials, moving the structure out of the flood plain, or rebuilding at a higher elevation. In our case, we would have to raise our slab about thirty-six inches to meet the flood plain rules. But that made no sense; we had five feet of water over the current slab.
Decisions, decisions...what were we going to do? Raise the slab three feet at a cost of $60,000? Raise it eight feet at a cost of over $150,000? Do some creative design with the existing studs and put the living quarters on the second floor? We looked at what we had left and made the gut wrenching decision to tear the house down and start over. In the wee hours of Monday morning, October 23rd, some very dear friends from Christ in Action drove from Galveston and Corpus Christi to do the dirty work.
Before sunrise, Chloe and I toured the house one last time to make sure it was ready to go. At first light, the front of the house was opened up like a giant egg that was no match for modern machines. We watched from across the street for thirty minutes. Before you knew it, we could see the back wall of the game room upstairs. It was then that Chloe and I knew it was time to leave. You see, God gave us a sign - maybe you can see it in the picture below. It was time. God had it under control.
I drove off before 9:00 a.m. to go to work. I came back later that day and found my house in a giant pile stacked neatly at the curb, awaiting the final trip to the landfill just a few miles away. The slab was swept clean. The place was ready. It was time to start anew. The biggest decision was made. It's all gone except for a forty-two-year-old slab, a detached garage, and a backyard. From this slab will rise a new structure, a new life story, a new home.
Next entry - what are we gonna do now?