Cleaning Up After the Flood

Today we finally got around to cleaning up a member’s house that is right next to the river and got badly flooded. The house is about 15 feet above the river right now. Low enough so that when the river crested at about 28 feet above flooding, most of the first floor of this house got soaked. The flood ripped the porch right off the house and floated it through some trees over into her neighbor’s yard where it had lodged between two trees. The porch was still intact and in good shape, so we had to try and bring it back. Bonnie, the owner of the house, was not able to get all her stuff out in time, so much was gone. The couches were soaked. The bookshelves were buckling at the bottoms from the water. The carpet had molded and mildewed. The entire house stunk of mold. Mosquitos flourished and buzzed our ears all day.

Our first job was to empty out the house. I went to another member of the church and borrowed their Dodge truck with trailer. We emptied the house of all the junk, dumping it on the trailer to take to the dumpster just down the road. Twice I nearly threw up as we hauled some nasty smelling bags full of I don’t want to know what! Most likely food that was in the fridge that Bonnie had not gotten around to emptying earlier. Maggots had already grown on the bags themselves! Ugh! Yuck! Even now, after showering, I still feel sick thinking about those bags. Gross!

We tore the moldy carpet off the floor only to find greasy, smelly, wet, mildewy hardwood. I don’t know what she will do with this house, but I recommend it be torn down and rebuilt. The problem is that the wood that supports the house is mildewy and that is not good. I would recommend to all the owners of properties along the river to raise their homes like they do in North Carolina for hurricanes. It is inevitable that the Susquehanna will flood again. The river is large in a region that gets plenty of rain. It will flood again, no doubt. Why do the work again?

We had to break the couches apart, which was enjoyable—it’s always fun to destroy things. 🙂 We borrowed an axe from a neighbor and went to work.

Then we went to the porch where it had wedged in between two trees and tried to figure out just how we could move it. After pondering for a while, we figured the best way was to back the trailer in to the neighbor’s yard, lift corners of the porch and slowly back the trailer underneath the porch. Then we would very carefully pull it into Bonnie’s yard. As we were close to getting the porch onto the trailer, another neighbor drives up and tells us that the truck happens to be over the septic tank! Sure enough, we look at the front right tire of the truck and the ground had seeped in, looking as if it wanted to break! We decided there and then to move the truck out quickly and find another way of moving the porch. We took apart the railings and stairs off the porch (which were still intact from the flooding, amazingly), and with eight strong guys, lifted the porch and moved it into Bonnie’s yard.

With that, we were basically done for the work this morning. Bonnie and her brothers still have more to do, but the heavy load has been completed. I would give the recommendation of rebuilding the house and putting it on stilts like they do on the coast in NC. The trouble might be financial. I don’t know how much that would cost and if it would be covered under her flood insurance. Her premiums might be going up anyways.

I returned the truck and drove home, immediately jumping in the shower. Even now, sitting here, typing up this story, I still feel dirty from that gunk. Yeah, in our search for homes, we’re going to avoid homes right along the river, even though the view is spectacular.

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About Daniel

Life is grand. This is the story of a new family, a recently married couple and their honeymoon baby girl. Life throws at you some fastballs, and then some curveballs.
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2 Responses to Cleaning Up After the Flood

  1. Bonnie says:

    Wow! What a day! It sounds like the kinds of things that my ward did to help clean up after Katrina & Rita. It is crazy the damage that water can do to a home. There are homes near Cypress Creek in Houston that are up on stilts b/c we get a lot of water down here. It’s crazy.

  2. redhatmandan says:

    yeah, that’s really the only way to build a house if you are in a flood zone. what’s the point of having to continually clean out the muck after every flood?

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