Classmates, it's been quite an experience for us from Houston to the Port Arthur area and even to SW Louisiana. I came close to being your ex-webmaster.
I thought I was home free the first few days of rain, water coming close to my house but that's all. Then Tuesday night it rained and rained hard, then harder. I was on the phone to my son when under my door was water seeping in. I ran for a mop ..... but it was a lost cause. In 5 minutes it was ankle deep. What do you do when you know you are in trouble and are running out of time? I picked up 5 computers that were on the floor, put them on a counter. I have a lot of books, I ran to each bookcase, pulled the bottom row and stacked them up high. I did manage to unplug my home refrigerator and turn off my AC. 10 minutes later, it was 2 feet deep. The only dry spot was my bed, I crawled in.
With my mind still racing, I thought, pictures. Most of my old family pictures were on a bottom shelf in an entertainment center. I opened the glass door and as I reached in I began getting jolted from the plug behind it. I thought about trying to reach back down in the water and grab them real fast but I was afraid I wouldn't be able to pull it out. Something told me not to try it, luckily I made the right decision.
In other room, as I was pulling books and stacking them up, I was wearing some old sandals. One of them came apart, I fell backwards, up to my neck in that brown goo. I ran to the shower, stood on the floor, and tried to clean up as best I could. Later as I was trudging through the water, all kinds of stuff was floating around. I banged my leg on something, trash can I think. It broke the skin, but there was no doing anything about it for now.
A little later I was able to make my way into my garage, get a stepstool, and reach up and turn off breakers. Grabbed the pictures then but ..... probably too late. All I could do is crawl on top my bed and try to get some sleep. I kept waking up, looking over the side, hoping the water was down. It was actually getting higher, about 6 inches from the top of my mattress.
When daylight came, my leg was hurting,, I called my son, told him that I had to get out, or die in there. He called the Groves Fire Department, they would send a boat to pick me up.
Another dilemma. What can I grab real fast, I didn't know how quick they would get here. I grabbed a bag with two laptops, but didn't get a mouse. Grabbed a eyeglass case, but later it was some glasses that were broken. All my ditty bags were stored under my bed, soaked now. But earlier I had put up high a ditty bag that I used at the Gun Range. I sloshed over to it, removed all the contents, used it to throw some T-shirts, undies, socks into. All shoes were soaked so all I had to wear was some Crocks. I have a small briefcase that I keep current medical records in. I emptied the papers in it, dug out my home policies and flood policy, zippered them into it. That was all I could think to grab. Sure enough, 10 minutes later I heard the small boat, it appeared, and it was a beautiful sight.
It was pouring rain, I was just in a T-shirt, freezing but feeling better. They brought me to a truck high on the freeway, transferred to it, and drove me to the Groves Activity Center. There I was able to dry off, wash my leg with soap, and find a seat. Doug out my papers, and in 15 minutes had registered my flood claim from my cell phone. Now perhaps I can have my first cup of coffee. No, turned around, my daughter was standing there. She had gone to my house, a guy in a big truck helped her get to my door. They banged on the door, she banged on a window. Finally she told him, "He's either gone or dead in there." Finally she called my son and he informed her of where I was.
We were to make our way to Lake Charles as daughter works for Chenere in Louisiana. They were furnishing her a room there at a Marriott. But before trying to get there, she wanted to stop off a her best friend's place, a big house in Groves that was spared the flood. They are Tricia Rogers Hernandez and her husband Danny.
When we arrived, wet and miserable, she insisted we take a shower. When I got out, she had a cup of coffee waiting for me, finally at 12:00 noon. I gulped down two cups. She brought me out several of her husband and son's clothes, and shoes, plus washed the clothes I had worn. As we were glued to the local news and they flittered with their Smart phones, I thought I should get on my laptop. She gave me instructions for her WiFi, soon I was on my computer doing business. As it got later in the day, it was obvious we were going no where. Another wayward friend arrived, she had lost even her car. Good thing she had plenty of room. By dark, I was directed to the couch, her making it as comfortable as she could.
Later her husband arrived, he has his own hardware business. As I was dozing in and out, about 10:30 he asked me if I wanted to taste something good. Not really hungry, I thought I would see what he was talking about. He pulled a concoction out of his fridge, shrimp and corn in some type of heavy liquid, plus a container of rice. I tried just a small amount, warming it up in the microwave. It was hot, he said it was kinda spicy. Kinda? Finally I made my way to the couch for some needed sleep.
The next day she prepared us some breakfast, then we were on our way, to daughter's house in Fannett. But as we were driving through Port Neches, I told her to pull over FAST. Opening the door, I threw up everything I had eaten the last 24 hours. I could still taste that shrimp concoction. No shrimp for me for a long, long time.
When we arrived, her sons and some burly other high school kids were hauling furniture out, and cutting up carpets. Sadly I sat in a chair and could hardly move. I would be woozy the rest of the day. When we finally set out for Lake Charles later, I would be looking forward to some needed sleep in a cool hotel room.
It would be late before we arrived in Lake Charles and settled in. By 9:00 PM we had to set out for some food but Lake Charles had encountered some of the storm too and many fast-food places were closed. We had to settle for burgers. But the next morning, the hotel had a great Continental Breakfast, some of the best food I had eaten.
Then came the inevitable trip back to Texas, the first stop, my house to see it for the first time since I left it in a boat. It wasn't a pretty sight, big smell from the overturned garbage to the many dead leaves. Snapping photos with our Smart Phones, we shot from every angle. Here came the first test...... my truck in my circular drive in front of my house. The concrete is somewhat higher there so I had hopes. The water debris line was the middle of the wheels. I gingerly unlocked and opened the door. No water inside, a good sign. Popping the hood, moving to the front, I checked the oil. It was clear and not over the line. The trans dipstick, the same. I moved inside, with my key. It cranked right up like it did the first time I bought it. Daughter hollered for me to move it forward and back. No problem, I would be ON the Road again.
Now to the inside of the house. A water debris line was everywhere, about knee deep, not the smell I had anticipated. The first carpet was sloshy to walk through. Items were strewn all over in a haphazard manner. Since the power was off, it was dark until I could open some blinds. But we continued snapping away. What can one do, to cry is useless, can only have hopes that we will all pass this and be back to normal, as normal as normal can be one day.
Day Three, I think........
Since I was mobile, daughter headed back to her place where she had plenty of work to do. Where do I start? Get garbage bags and start picking up the trash and stuff that I won't need. I made my way to where my good cameras were, grabbed my best, and snapped away. One of the most unenviable jobs is to open the fridges and toss the food. Not too bad a smell, it had only been what, 2 days? And with the ice bucket full, it probably stayed cold a day.
When emptied, grabbing some good cleaner spray, wipe it down. Then move to the fridge in the garage, ditto. While out there it was hard not to take a look at my two cars in the garage that I thought would be safe, my Ford Explorer and Ford Mustang GT. The garage door was bowed out, from the force of the water. After banging it some, I was able to manually open it. Behind the Mustang was an air compressor on wheels, it was upside down. Snapping away, when I righted it, the air gages had water sitting in them. I always thought those were sealed but I guess not. Got a good closeup of that.
The water lines on the vehicles told the story. The Explorer line was just above the bottom of the door, it sits up high. But looking at my baby, my Mustang, the water line was half way up the doors. Opening the Explorer first, the carpets were wet. I pulled the removable floor mats and set them out in the sun. It was a sickening sight with the GT..... the seat bottoms were wet, about 2-3 inches of water sitting on the floor.
When I was in Louisiana earlier that day, I picked up some things I knew I would need at a Stein's. I bought a large industrial Shop Vac, wet or dry. Went to work on the Explorer with it, doing a super job. It has some suction power. Then moved over to the GT ...... that vac was sucking it dry. Would have been nice if I could have spent an hour there but I had to move on.
I pulled the hood on the Explorer. No water in the oil or trans. I moved behind the wheel........ zoom ... it fired right up. It had survived wonderfully. No such luck with the GT. After checking the oil, I climbed in. Turning on the key, I immediately knew I was in trouble as the clock had reset itself. Turning the starter, it dragged a few times and quit. Don't know why the battery would go down but that model has the computer inside the right kick pad, probably shot. Well, that's for another day.
Some good news, after cleaning the fridge in the garage, I turned on the breaker, the light came on, and it started blowing, cold air I hoped. The other good news is, right next to that fridge, the clothes dryer, and next to it, my washing machine. With the power on there now, I grabbed a few items, set the washer on low level, and fired it up. It started filling, I was so confused I forgot to put in liquid detergent. But it ran through all the cycles. Those few clothes then moved to my dryer. I LOVE this clothes dryer, I had only had it about 4 months, it was a used 8 yr old Whirlpool, but I got it for $123. With a light inside too. Tossed those few clothes in, and prayed. It took off and 30 seconds later I stopped it and opened it ... the clothes were hot. WooooPeeee. One of my favorite sayings is, "You don't lose them all....".
Oh, and BOTH fridges are running like a champ, the freezers blowing ice. Say that saying again.....
Friday Night's Report.....
Don't have time for an extended report tonight. As I was closing the house and preparing to leave today, I went and checked some items that I had assumed were safe. I happened to check three plastic drawers containing spare M-1 Garand parts. The top drawer was dry, it contained mostly sight parts, some Lockbar sights, worth $300 to $400 each, plus other small parts.
But the 2nd and 3rd drawers contained larger parts, like bolts, trigger housings, gas cylinders, butt plates, and early WW2 trigger guards. They were sitting in water, for the last week. All I could do is pour the water out, gather them up in a bag, and haul them with me to the hotel tonight.
The lot of them are probably worth more that a thousand dollars. So I have been cleaning each individual part with parts cleaner, then oiling them down with the hopes that they will be saved.
Saturday..... a day to remember....
What a day today, both good and bad. First, meeting with the Flood Insurance adjuster, he painted a gloomy picture. He said all inside walls have to come out now, the tile in the bathroom has to come out. I had noticed my next door neighbor's pile, some rocks like stuff. Now I know what it is.
He said he will write up all my appliances because they could have internal damage that will show up later. So I will replace fridges, dishwasher, A/C unit .... but I will wait on replacing my beloved washer and dryer. If they go out later, I can do it.
It's pretty confusing how the compensation works, but he said to just itemize everything, see how it comes out. I don't see how it will get to my maximum but he said it will add up fast. Oh, well...
I decided to change cars, park my Ranger Truck and drive my Ford Explorer. Two reasons. That clears out one half of my garage to store items into. Since Explorer seldom gets driven, it will charge the battery. I had been searching for the small notebook that contains all my passwords and vital computer info for the last three days. It wasn't back in the house by my computer, it wasn't placed into any of the cardboard boxes. It wasn't in any of the pockets of my laptop case, wasn't in the briefcase where my papers are. I had been searching and praying the last three days.
While swapping gear from truck to SUV, Waaaaalaaaaa. There, don't ask me why I put it there, it was in the net pocket behind the seat. I screamed, THANK YOU GOD. I grabbed it, kissed it, then put it in the most obvious place that it should be in, the zippered back pocket of my laptop case. Oh, one other good reason for using the Explorer instead of the truck.... that back of the SUV that opens up with plenty of room back there.
I got a call that my help wouldn't be coming today. So I set out working alone after the adjuster left, about 10:30. With that storage area in the garage now, I had a brainstorm. The 5 bookcases in my spare room, I lost the bottom 2 rows of books, soaked my DVD's, and VCR tapes. So I proceeded to clear out the rest of the books and things, and then, with a hand truck, hauled them to the vacated garage, laying them on their sides. My plan is to grab some OSB from my attic, cut 2 feet off of the rotted bottoms, use the OSB for a new bottom of each. Then stand them up in my garage, reposition the books and items into the book cases. Will see how that works tomorrow. If it works, they will just be 4 feet high instead of 6 feet.
Then I set about removing the rest of the wet carpet in spare room, emptying a desk in there, moving computers up on a table out of there. Everything went so well that I was making all kinds of progress. A wet box was full of old baseball uniforms. Had to get them into the washer and dryer. They are priceless.
When it was all said and done, I had accomplished more today BY MYSELF than any other two days with help. But I did put in 6 straight hours of non-stop work. I hung it up at 5:30, drove by Subway for my dinner for later in the room.
Sure was a pleasant drive in my great Explorer this evening....... I should sleep good tonight.
No, it wasn't the conventional NFL Sunday. I did manage to reinstall a small 19" TV, hooking it up to be able to watch some of the Texans while working. Shouldn't have bothered.
A couple days ago as I was making the drive from Lake Charles to Groves, since I am always too late to listen to Al Caldwell, I have been listening to Satellite Radio. I usually listen to the 50's channel, but have been flipping over to the 60's channel occasionally. That morning a song came on that I haven't heard in a while, "My Guy" by Mary Wells.
Mary Wells sings that song she made in 1962, "The One Who Really Loves You", which is in my top 5, I loved it in high school. So when "My Guy" came on, it brought tears to my eyes. I said, "We miss you, Mary", she died in 1992. I thought about my best friend who died 2 yrs ago, I said, "You missed all this mess, didn't you"? I "talked to" classmates and great friends, James Lewis and Gerald Thibodeaux, saying "I miss you guys".
One set of books that got wet, the shelf they were on collapsed and they fell into the water. I saw it that night, and grabbed them and was tossing them up on a couch when I fell back into the brown water. They are a 25 book set of WW2 Encyclopedias, some of which I had never even cracked open. Yesterday when I went through them to stack them in another room, it made me sick. Some other great magazines, one about '55 to '57 Chevys that came out in 1987, with lots of photos, and another that came out in 1963 that detailed the early Chevy V-8 engines, were wet and sticking together. In the early 60's, when I was building Chevy engines, I used to as a reference book time and time again.
Well, I found a set of those WW2 Encyclopedias online, bought them for $55. I would have gladly paid twice that amount for a set. Then I found those other two magazines, one for $30, the other for $20. Happy as a lark to have found them to replace mine.
Today we finally got into removing paneling off the walls, and breaking out the sheetrock in the living room. It's a slow, tedious job but it has to be done.
Really tired tonight ..... should sleep well.
Monday, bloody Monday......
Another agonizing day, first the long drive. Thankfully most of the bottlenecks are gone, both bridges over the Neches River are open all lanes, and it's the usual 50 minute drive to Lake Charles. That is, if one isn't traveling from Sulphur to Lake Charles from 5:30 to 6:30. It's stop and go at that time, I call it "Houston Traffic".
Putting in just 6 hours of work is hard on old folks like us. My back was aching today with all the bending over. So much to do, so MUCH to do. Had one helper today, unfortunately he's another 70 yr old like me.
In the process of replacing some of the books and items that are apparently lost, some good news and bad. I even found another "Casablanca 50 yr Commemorative" with book, script, and 2 VCR tapes, that was under the water all the time. I originally paid about $25 for the one I had, last night I paid $69 for a used replacement. Glad to get it at that.
Because I was in for a shock tonight. A book that came out in about 2005, that I paid $29 for, is very wet and may be lost. So tonight I set about trying to replace it. The book is called, "The Last Steel Warrior". The prices for that book range from $244 to nearly $900, yes that's correct. If I had known it would appreciate that amount, I would have put it in a Safety Deposit Box. I may have located one for $99, will contact them tomorrow to see if they still have some.
I keep telling my friends and kids, books are BIG business.
Should have no trouble sleeping tonight.
Tuesday's Hard Day....
Tuesday, is it Tuesday, the days run together. More of the same, sleep in a Lake Charles Marriot, have a great breakfast, pack everything up, make 3 trips down to my Explorer, get a full jug of water and ice, then hit the road. Thankfully now all the roads are wide open, it's less than an hour to Groves.
I have to touch on a touchy subject, dealing with someone sitting behind a desk in a big city who is nitpicking those of us who are breaking our neck to get our lives in order. Without naming my Flood Insurance carrier, when the adjuster met with me on Saturday he was going through my file. When he came to the date my house was built, he stated January 1, 1978. Naturally I corrected him, saying it was that month that I bought my house, that there was a prior owner. So he asked me when it was built, I didn't know. He said we will have to find out.
Over the course of the next 3 days, I was besieged with phone calls and emails demanding that date. Yesterday I pulled out all my original purchase papers, including my deed, no date was noted. I did find my first Flood Insurance Policy and it just stated, "built prior to 1-1-1970". In addition, I had water come in my house in 2007 and I received $11,000 in flood compensation then. It didn't seem to be a problem about the date then. In speaking with the gal once, she stated she needed the Month, Day, and Year of construction. I told her that there is no DATE of construction, it's a several month deal. She stated they will have to speak with me again on this issue. I told her, "You won't be speaking to me, you will be speaking to a Lawyer".
Well, a final conversation with her this morning, she stated that it's all corrected. What a mess, and not just my house either.
Today the work on the house didn't show much progress but I made great progress that doesn't show up. I took down the 5 bookcases that housed my books, VCR tapes, and DVD's, laid them out in my garage. I proceeded to lop 2 feet of the rot off the bottom, install bottom braces with OSB, and stood them up in my garage, lined up like a library. Got many of my vital books placed into them. The most important, to me, is my nearly 50 Annuals, they were high and dry, thank goodness. They look nice in that bookcase in the garage.
Some other furniture that may survive, are lined up in the garage too. So the inside of the house is getting bare gradually, where it can be stripped down to the studs.
One other thing I noticed today. Me and my one friend were the only ones working on my street. Everyone else is finished with their stripping and the houses are closed and quiet. Some of them had an army of people helping them. Guess I just don't have that many friends. That many friends still alive.
This is probably my last day to drive to Lake Charles and stay in the Marriot, daughter too. Will try to stay at son's apartment or a Evacuation Shelter, with the rest of the refugees.
Dreary, Exhausting Wednesday......
Saying the goodbyes to the cooks who cooked delicious food, it was time to put the Lake Charles Marriot behind us. It was bittersweet, a nice place to visit, but the drive became monotonous. It was time to move on, but to where?
The tiresome, back-breaking work went on at home. More of clearing out walls, hauling to the street. All of a sudden a huge double truck was inching down the street, with a bucket to pick up beds, TV's, couches, furniture. and walls chiseled out of homes. I ran to the front, made a pointing gesture to the trash, a guy nodded his head yes. Great. However, they only picked up like, half of it. They said they couldn't pick up past the pole line. I told one of them, that I would have hauled it into the street like a lot of folks did, but I was trying to be nice. In a smug way, they halted the pickup and just moved on down the street. They said they will be back to make another pass in a few days. Yeah, right.
When my one helper left early today, I prodded on moving from room to room, throwing stuff away and finding some savable. Some of the sad moments ....... My set of 1891, yes I said 1891 Encyclopedias, soaked. All I could do is rip out the first page that lists the date, and toss them. An old Electrician book that was signed my my father in back of the cover dated 1941..... gone. I ripped off the cover for safekeeping, and tossed it. How many people have their father's actual signature? A prayer book that had my name on the first page, with my home address where I lived in elementary school ..... soaked. A small bible that my mother gave me, I noted the date on the first page in 1981 ...... soaked.
A couple of old college textbooks, with a bookcover of the University of Texas, were used by two uncles of mine in the 1940's. Soaked and tossed into the pile.
But the worse was yet to come. Pulling stuff out of a bottom shelf, I came upon a small box that was labeled simply, "Letters". Pulling out the clumps of envelopes I realized they were actual letters from my old best friend and classmate, James Lewis. Some of the return addresses were when he lived in Missouri, just out of St. Louis. That was where he moved to when they first left Port Arthur. I set them out, maybe a miracle will dry them out by tomorrow. Who am I kidding?
As I settle in at son's apartment, yet to scarf down some food since early this morning. Gotta try to get some food in me, try to find some rhyme and reason of this life in our later years.
Thursday .... in a word, Exhausting....
One thing that never stops no matter what your situation is ..... bill paying. Spent an hour this morning doing paper work paying bills, some directly on the Laptop with credit card accounts, some writing checks and putting in an envelope to mail. Got a small advance from Flood Insurance of a $10,000 check, had to figure out where to deposit it to be able to get to it fast ..... checking obviously. The Post Office and my credit unions would be the first stop.
Oh, son had already left for work early when I drug myself out of bed about 7:00 AM. I was looking all around the kitchen for that morning coffee. Luckily son's girl friend hadn't left yet. She asked if I needed any help. I said one word ... coffee. She directed me to a black gadget, grabbed me a large coffee mug, then proceeded to show me how a Keurig works. I would never have figured it out in a hundred years.
Work at the house is painfully slow. My back was aching before I even started. So much bending over, running a mop, broom, and toting trash to the street. Then using a power saw, hammer, pry bar .... but first screwdrivers for delicate work of removing electrical face plates, preserving them because some I only installed some 10 years ago, some sooner.
Rumors ...... There has been word the last few days of a meeting tonight in Groves with lawyers concerning a class action lawsuit over this flooding. After taking a soothing shower that relaxed me so great, I did get dressed again to head over to the meeting. There were no parking places for blocks. I did park and as I was approaching the front door, a line of people snaked for a quarter of a block. I turned around, started my car, and headed back to the apartment. I was just too tired to wait in yet another line.
As I type this, my eyes are so heavy I may not stay awake much longer.
Friday... What's it all about .....
As I drug myself out of bed this morning, my back aching, I just had the feeling that I was not going to make it, really get there, accomplish the job of completely rebuilding my house. There is so much to do, getting so little help, wondering who is going to be available to do the work. I felt a little bit of what they told us in the Marines that went on during the Korean War with prisoners taken captive. It was called, "Give Up Itis." They just laid down and died. Naturally our Marine Instructors said it wasn't Marines who gave up, it was "Army". Those Marine Instructors were something, weren't they?
That night of the flood, when the water started surging in, I was moving like a cat from room to room. The "Flight or Fight" syndrome came upon me. I knew I was going to survive, if the water rose to my ceiling I was going to climb a tree if necessary. I knew there was major, major damage, but the first thing I had to do was to live. Thankfully those guys in a boat came by and hauled me out, essentially saving my life.
I have to believe that, just like thousands and thousands of others in SE Texas, I will get past this one day. But, I'm not a spring chicken. How much time is it going to take me? Where will I live in the meantime?
On to today. Just more of ripping out trim, jerking paneling, hauling trash, which is what my house is now, to the street. I had my usual old Marine Buddy for 3 hours or so, then I ventured outside to see what I could clean up on my own. A huge pile of, what I would call "flotsam and jetsam", was stacked up against my back fence, consisting of dead grass, leaves, wood, paper plates, and just about anything. With a rake and wheelbarrow, I gathered it up and hauled to the street. Under it the grass was dead.
Checking on my lawnmower that I bought new some 4 months ago, the oil looked weird, kinda black, but the gasoline looked, felt, and smelt good. I knew the route I would take with it. I would change out and put in new oil and toss the gas before I tried it.
The inevitable job of looking at the Mustang had to begin sometime. Grabbing my old battery charger that had been under water, it was shot. I figure to change the new starter that was only two months old, a tight, nasty job. A computer was listed about $175 online, but first I want to look at mine inside the kick pad. Would like to pull the seats out, maybe get some replacements. Looking at a new carpet that is a direct replacement, for about $170. The nice people are sending me some carpet samples to get the color right.
The spending of money had to begin. I knocked off early, making out a list for Lowes. A new battery charger for $99, quart of oil for lawn mower, a set of gloves, (I keep misplacing mine), some new white electrical plugs that I know I will need, and some good quality safety sunglasses. Had to have some 13-13-13 for that dead grass too. With my military discount, came to only $162. Hey, it's only money.
And so, tomorrow is another day in a long list of days that will probably be as endless as the last 3 weeks have been.
It's all I can do, for now.
Saturday .... It's no fun.....
Another day of working alone, I'm used to it. A couple things had to get done today. First, bring out and hook up a small TV to watch the Astros. Was able to watch bits and pieces when I could take a water break, they won.
Moved to the Mustang, trunk area. First, hook up the new battery charger to the battery, I had moved it to the trunk some 6-7 years ago. When I hooked it up, the readout on the charger showed 0.0. It was completely dead and empty, a bad sign. It means there is a dead short somewhere. Nothing to do but disconnect the battery, and look at it some other day. Pulling up the wheel well cover, there was still water sitting there. Jerk out the jack, some towels, rags, and an old emergency kit that were all wet, tossed them out, the donut spare was next to be removed. Probably and inch of water in there. Grabbed the new great Shop Vac and sucked that water right out. All I could think to do is find the WD-40 and spray thoroughly in the wheel well. Hopefully the rust starting in there will be neutralized.
Much of the next few hours was spent pulling nails, hauling trash to the front. Not a lot of work done on what needs to be done. But some good news when the Postman came. My waterlogged set of 25 World War II Encyclopedias were replaced. They are not as nice as mine was, but ...... they have to do. Plus that nearly $900 book, "Last Steel Warrior", the replacement that I gladly paid $99 for, it came in brand new wrapping. It will stay in the wrapping, the old book is dried up enough to refer to if needed.
I just had to get the next job done, looks like I won't get any help with it, tarping the roof. About 4:00 I tackled it, gathering up one of the tarps that were in my attic, a hammer, roofing tacks, and some roofing dope. Dragging out my long ladder, I was up on the roof again. Sure would have been nice to have some help because the slight wind wasn't a big help. But the job got done, the Windstorm Adjuster will be here next week. We have gone over two weeks without rain now, we don't need any, but it's going to rain again sometime.
My aching back will hopefully get a good night's rest.
Sunday .... again?
It was another long, lonely, hot, dusty, monotonous day in Groves town. In the battle of wins versus loses, lost a few but won a few too.
I looked out front at one point and 3 workers were going through my pile of stuff. They said they were an advanced group from the city picking out "E-Trash". Ok, if you are as back in time as me, it stands for Electronic Trash. They were picking up TV's, monitors, and in my case, a bunch of computer stuff. One of them asked me if I worked on computers. After all, he had picked up a slew of keyboards, monitors, and probably 40 CD drives. CD drives are very fickle, a speck of dust can cause one to fail. So those that were under water, no chance. They lined them up on the side of the street, took pictures, then counted them. Came to just over 80 pieces of E-trash.
One big loss, not totally unexpected, was my brand new lawnmower. I picked up some new oil the other day, drained the oil, then put the new oil in. Turned it over to drain the gas, new gas. Checked the air filter, clean. But, pull after pull, nothing. Even tried some starter fluid ...... it was no use. Even lawn mowers today have solid state modules and this one has to be shot. Jumping on the computer, Lowes in PA are out, Lowes in Bmt has 7 of these. The grass will have to be cut soon, with a new mower or a borrowed one.
Digging through books in my stack again, I picked out 3 really nice, big, heavy hardcopy WW II era books, wet and sticking together. Back to the computer..... checking the internet, I found replacements. Two used ones claimed they were like new, so I bought them. One other I found several listings, most said "Used but in good condition". I opted for one brand new for $42. That is the only one that I am sure will be as nice as mine were.
One monumental job was accomplished today. In the spare bedroom, an older couch/bed was yet to be removed. My helper the last two weeks had complained that we would need help to get it out, it is old and HEAVY. No plastic in it, the bed mechanism is solid iron. So, all alone I set out to get it OUT of there. I stood it up, thinking I may get a hand truck on it. No, too bulky and heavy. Saw some accessible screws. Removed them one by one and in a while the entire mechanism fell out of the couch. From there it was drag or hand-truck it out to the street. Won't my friend be surprised if he shows up tomorrow.
Since I had a small TV set up in the living room to watch the Cowboys, the rest of the afternoon I spent there. Pulling nails, cutting out sheetrock, watching the game ...... and drinking water.
It's the way of life of a lucky looser in Groves, Texas today.
Monday .... It was HOT ....
By the time I made it to the jobsite, home that is, it was after 10:00 and it was already hot. The AC had worked the one time I tried it even though the outside unit had been half way under water during the high water. The door from kitchen to garage wouldn't close so that had to be fixed sooner or later. I did it today, by trimming and shaving the edge of the door. Now I could fire up the AC and we could concentrate on the inside of the house. Plus, running the AC would help to dry out whatever was still wet, and cut down on the mildew. In a short time, it was nice inside.
When Marine Buddy called, I told him I would have a surprise for him. The cool working environment and the heavy couch that was out of there.
Before he arrived, I got the email from Charlie, below. I got to thinking later. With Charlie emailing and Marine Buddy here, we had half of the "Texas Six" as our St. Louis Marine Buddy named us.
The work wasn't nearly as bad as it had been. Working in cool air, only venturing outside to haul trash, made the work almost pleasant. But I had another daunting task to tackle.
Since my new lawnmower was shot, I needed to cut my grass. Son had given me an old mower that he said worked. I sent helper home about 3:00 and went outside to try the old mower. It started alright, I made one pass but where the handle joined the rear adjustment, it was discombobulated. I first tried a couple bolts to secure it to the mower frame, made another pass, it gave out. Finally, after digging and finding just the right size larger bolts, I "reengineered" it. Took nearly and hour for that, sweating beans. I did manage to get all the back grass cut. Now there was some semblance of order, out back anyway.
Oh, there was one major win today. I love old style, neon lighted clocks, I have 3-4. One of my favorites is one I bought about a year ago. A clock that says "Oldsmobile Service" with the Olds emblem. The clock runs on battery but the light runs on a small power converter. It wasn't lighting up, I was sick. Wait !!!! I had a box of various power converters, had been under water but just maybe ....... I looked at the voltage of the Olds converter, found one with the same voltage ....... Waaaalaaaa. It worked. Made my day......
Moving forward ... an inch at a time.
Report delayed due to no internet access, here's the reason, a sad story. Son called me about 5:30 Monday to say it was necessary to drive to Houston. A friend and classmate of his was in intensive care in Houston, not expected to make it. Son had the kid's parents with him, they are nearly 80 so he was driving them up there so they can see their son for the last time. I woke up right at midnight, he was coming in. All I could ask him is if he got to see his friend. He said he's on a breather but he did. This morning he rolled out of bed at 5:30 for work. I'm not sure I would do that for any of my classmates. Maybe a best friend. It seems the kid fell a few weeks ago and hit his head. Now pressure on his brain. So, so, sad.
A terrific and uplifting email from one of the "Texas Six", Marine Buddy and Classmate Charlie Brabham near Houston:
"Wayne, I have just read all of your entries on the TJHS site and I was totally engaged by the subject matter and your style of writing. I had to read it through until (sunday)yesterday. You painted a very good picture of what it's like to deal with floodwaters in your home and through all of the shock and uncertainty of it all you dug in and took it on like a man on a mission.
First of all I'm sorry for what you encountered and for what you lost in Harvey, what a freaky storm. It started out as almost nothing but grew into the monster that would't go away. To my memory it was worse than Audrey, Carla, Rita and Ike.
I'm also glad that you are OK and that even though you thought about giving up you didn't and you continue to look for the sunshine that will surely follow after all of this is over. Kudos for preserving "The Last Steel Warrior".
Hopefully the replacements of things you lost will be as good or better than before, even though some of the items that you mentioned you lost can not be replaced. But they will be remembered.
Also, good move buying flood insurance, that will really help you in getting a new start. So many people did not think they would ever need flood insurance.
I have several friends that you know that also got flooded. A TJ grad from 1959, had around two feet of water in his house. He is undergoing chemotherapy during all of this. They live in Nederland but are staying with in laws during clean up and restoration. Another TJ grad from 1963 lives in Richmond and also got flooded and living elsewhere while restoring.
Also my youngest son who lives in Friendswood had three feet in his home and is living in an apartment while restoring. My wife and I helped him with the tear out and hauling debris to the curbside so we feel a little of your pain.
All had flood insurance. We live 3 miles from the Brazos river in Rosharon and stayed as long as we could but saw the riverflow coming in the yard on top of three days of hard rain and I was sure we were going under so we left on Tuesday and stayed with Gary Miertschin and Gretchen for two nights and then to my sisters house in League City for three more nights. Her house was dry even though there were flooded homes all around hers. It was Sunday before our road reopened so that we could check out our homes. I had already filed on my flood policy because I was so sure we were flooded.
Much to my surprise when we drove up to the house there was a green ring of grass about five feet from the slab all the way around. On the side of the garage the water had got to the landing of the garage door at the concrete but not in the garage.
We built the home in 2013 and because of the proximity of the river, Brazoria County required that we pad up to a certain elevation in order to receive a building permit. I remember saying "Good Lord"do we really need to be that high? Now I wish I was even higher. I cancelled my flood claim but you can be sure that I will re up the policy when the time comes.
Thanks for your good work on the web page,
Tuesday .... big, big, BIG doings....
First, not a lot of different work going on at house. Tearing out one section of wall was a daunting task. There was two layers of regular paneling, but underneath was knotty pine that looked to be 1/2" thick. Both me and Marine helper worked hard on that, then toting out to the street. As usual it was slow, back breaking work.
All this time I am getting emails from daughter, actually started the day before. WHAT was I going to do? It will take a year or more before home is habitable. I can't stay with son for that long in his apartment with his two kids there half the time. It was getting really tortuous living out of 3 ditty bags, toting a laptop everywhere. So, I did do something about it.
Going to the local classifieds online about 3:00, I started looking... and looking .. and looking. At RV'S. Just out of Beaumont an RV dealer had dozens listed online. I called them, got directions from Groves, told them I was on the way.
Fast forward to about 4:30. I walked out of my local credit union the proud owner of a RV, to be setup in my driveway. It's a 32ft Newmar Cypress 32 CKRE. It looks brand NEW even though it's used. Just think ..... in 3 or 4 nights I will be showering in MY own shower again.
I may even sleep better on this couch tonight.
A slow day today.....
Some setbacks slowed the progress and not much was accomplished today. Couple Adjusters came by to survey the leaking roof but since the skies were dark they opted to reschedule. The tarp on the roof would have to be pealed back by them and they didn't want to be responsible in case it started raining. That's what they said anyway.
I had a bunch of paperwork to get done so I sent Marine helper home about 11:30 .... he called it a "kick back" day. It took me nearly 45 minutes then to obtain insurance for the upcoming RV, all on the phone.
After that I just couldn't seem to get it going, the events of the last few days had me dog tired. But about 3:00, I caught my second wind.
I set about working on moving VCR tapes, DVD movies, and some remaining books from the stacks inside that covered an entire wall in my old bedroom out to the empty bookcases in my garage. So some 200 tapes and probably 300 DVD's were now safely out of the way. Keeping the tapes in numerical order and the DVD's in alphabetical order was a daunting task. A few books that I actually used in college were salvageable so I was able to hang on to them. But by 5:30 it was done and I was pooped.
Changed clothes and headed out to son's apartment.
Oh, the friend of son that he went to Houston to bring the kid's parents to see for the last time .... he died early this morning. Son will be a pallbearer. All I could say to him is that this was not the last time he will sadly have to bury a friend.
Hope for better days .....
Not a lot going on today, didn't even call up my help. I started slow, working on books and magazines, moving old Playboys and Maxims out to the temporary bookcases. These are from the 80's and 90's and they hold their value. I never looked at the pictures, I would just read the articles. When they became ultra-liberal, I stopped them coming.
Had to start it sometime, going through pictures. Some were totally lost, pictures of when kids were young, pictures of relatives gone. What is strange is some pictures on a page may be totally destroyed, yet one next to it was intact. A large photo of ex-wife as a baby, mutilated. I did see a large bin full of negatives that looked dry so perhaps, just perhaps some can be reproduced. Remember, I saved everything even negatives. One full sized group photo of son playing basketball, won't be a negative of it. We lost some, we saved some. I noticed a nice picture of me in uniform holding a bat was saved. Yeaaaaah.
Another brutal task that I had been putting off was going through a huge stack of floppy disks, from the 90's and early 2000's, still in a bottom shelf and still wet. Most were obsolete but I had to read each one. Many were easily tossed, but I was looking for something special. In the early 90's I worked at Lamar Orange as an Administrative Assistant to the Vice President. I produced some fabulous spreadsheets both for the VP and the Campus President. Once the Prez came to the VP and asked to have me produce a special spreadsheet for him. He handed me a slip of paper with a bunch of dollar amounts on it. He wanted a spreadsheet to take with him to Austin for Budget Hearings. I am sure I saved it on a floppy disk and took it home. I sure hope when I find that floppy that it works.
After waiting all day long for that special phone call, I got it about 5:00 from the RV man. They are delivering my RV at 1:00 tomorrow. There are three possibilities of where to set it up. I am hoping the best spot will be off to the right of my circular drive. It needs to be out of the way where it won't be banged into when a Demolition Crew comes in and a Roofing Crew tears into my roof.
I can feel it in my bones ...... a good night's sleep coming very soon.
Yes, yesterday was Friday and so much happened it's hard to recall. I said Goodby for now to grandkids yesterday morning as they rushed off to school. I remember a few years ago telling some of my other grandkids that I truly wished I was going to school too. We really didn't know how good we had it. All we had to worry about is getting up early (?), scarfing down some food, maybe even making sure our teeth were brushed, finding a ride to school with some buddies, who are long gone now, then facing those mean, cruel teachers all day. Ahhhh, to be young again.
Friday was spent just piddling, doing some odd jobs around the trash pile, I mean my home. After all, it would be the day my nice, clean, newish RV would arrive.
It did arrive, about 1:30, and after some maneuvering they managed to place it where I hoped it would go, off to the right out of the way. Earlier trimmed some of the hedges anticipating a tight squeeze and it was. One hedge I didn't trim ended up being tight up against my bedroom slideout. Will have to get to that today.
Naturally the tech support was about what I expected. The fresh water hose they supplied was too short by about 3 feet. The big electrical line they supplied went about half way to my electrical box. They anticipate stuff like this so they supplied an adapter connection to 110V which allows the RV to run one AC in the bedroom. But no hot water and the big AC won't run. After a cursory run through, with a list of the wiring supplies, and water hose, that I would need, "tech support" was driving off.
Arriving at Lowes, it was another fiasco. With such a turnover there, I got practically no help. The 35' of #6 wire was cut for me, almost $100 bucks there. I found the 50 Amp breaker easy enough, I am familiar with breakers. The drinking-water hose was at the other part of the store, I wanted to be sure and get that. Had to get yet another 25 footer just to go the remaining 3 feet. Racing back to the electrical dept, I once again contemplated "female sockets". The tech had recommended I take a picture of the receptacle pattern I would need but, NO, I was too smart for that. So at Lowes, there were dozens to choose from. I racked my brain trying to remember just what the pattern was. Found one I was almost sure was it, plus it was labeled "50 Amp Receptacle", so I took a chance and bought it. Even told the gal as I checked out that I would probably be back. Another $160 bucks.
Back home, ran the water line as much out of the way as I could. Started the tedious task of running the #6 wire to where it would join the RV wire and plug they supplied. Thankfully when I expanded my breaker box some 25 years ago, I had plenty of space for additional breakers. Placed this 50 amp at the top. Drilled a 1/2" hole for access from the top of the garage to out the front of the garage, under the eaves. Everything would be out of the weather if my plan worked. Run some wire, install a clamp to hold it there, run, clamp, run, clamp. It looked to be a workable plan.
About that time, nearly 5:00, son arrived to see the RV and his former home for the first time. He's a self-proclamed RV expert so he looked it over well, much nicer and newer than the one he had before his divorce. I had promised him some really nice king sized sheets, I will go with a queen bed, plus the RV has a queen. One set I had bought at a gun show, some Woodland Cammo that feel like silk. Naturally he urged me to quit at some point and stay at his place one more night. No, I was going to stick this out, told him I would call him.
So many things always go wrong. Was using one old electric drill to drill holes, another to screw in the screws. All my battery-powered drills were in my bottom drawer in shop, gone. Would you believe that one of those old electric drills went dead, after 45 years. Then when I made the wiring run to it's end, terminated just under the eaves in front of front porch, installed the wiring, I attached to a strip of wood. Should work.
It was nearly dark when I moved back to the breaker box to strip the wires and install to the breaker and neutral terminals. Had to get a light to see, not good to be working in the dark when one is inside a High Voltage box. Finally got all the connections made and any electrician will tell you what comes next is either gratifying or will make you want to cry. You FLIP THE BREAKER ON and wait for it to hopefully do nothing. If it trips to red .... waaaaaaa, waaaaaa. This one did nothing which showed I made all the right wiring connections.
However a problem, you knew there would be one, when I pulled the big yellow plug off the adapter and went to plug it into the receptacle mounted just under my eaves, I had it upside down. Cut the breaker, open the receptacle, unscrew it, and for now just leave it hanging upside down. The huge plug fit, correctly clocked.
Racing to the RV with giddiness, I flipped on the big AC ... it roared into service, spitting out that golden cold air.
It was dark but I called son to tell him I was sticking it out here. All I did was carry the same 3 ditty bags and laptop bag inside the RV, just like I was staying in a hotel or his place.
I had AC, drinking water, and hot water by now. Grabbed my 19" TV from the house, placed it in the cubbyhole designed for that, and I was set. A hot shower, one can of soup from the house, some coffee, cup, sugar and creamer for the morning, and before long I was OUT.
Tomorrow ... another day, another adventure.
Saturday it was still hot....
I made a big mistake in not staying at son's apartment one more night. I had no FOOD here, just some can goods. I had a couple cans of Vienna Sausage and one was my breakfast.
The flood adjuster came out for his second visit. He took more pictures, drew diagrams, and figures. He said that the repairs to my house will approach the $75,000 that I have in coverage. That is a shock, it's more than I paid for the house and property years ago.
The next visitor is a guy and gal with the roofing company. They really seemed to know their stuff, the guy was doing dozens of measurements on the roof, she described all kind of new roofing materials they use today. When finished they retreated to one of the cars to figure out the bid. They took 20 minutes or so of figuring before they came out for more explanations and all the type jobs they have been doing. The highest bid came to $12,000. All I could say is we will have to see what the adjusters say when they come back. Finally, probably nearing 2:00, I headed out to find some food and buy groceries.
At a chicken place, I bought fish because I seldom eat fish. Then I set about going to the grocery store first time in over a month. Took nearly an hour for that but now I will have good food tonight and more importantly, in the morning for breakfast.
The rest of the evening was spent stocking the shelves and the fridge and freezer, trying to find where to put it all. Trying to find some sheets to fit this queen bed.
Just got a call back from the roofing company. She said they miscalculated the footage and used the footage from another job they did, yes, a much larger house. So they have to come back out tomorrow and go all through it again.
Right now, nearing the 8:00 hour, looking at the time on my Oldsmobile neon clock, it's time to grab some good food and watch a little TV before I'm out.
Sunday .... a trip to Walmart.....
First off, if you have been reading the previous reports you would know that today the roofers were coming back to remeasure the roof and calculate another bid cost. I got down and made a list of stuff I needed at Walmart so I called her back to get an ETA. Would you believe, after 5:00. So the big objective today was get stuff at Walmart.
Walmart was packed and many of the shelves were bare. The very first thing on my list was two sets of Queen Sized sheets!!!! Would you believe $35 a set? I had given son my king sheets and still had several sheets in the top of my closet in the house. But all were apparently double and would not fit no matter how hard I tried to stretch them. So last night I slept with a loose sheet on the bottom, a loose sheet on the top, and the RV bed cover that had fitted ends on the bottom. This would hold the whole caboodle relatively firm and in place. They didn't do a very good job last night. But I was so tired, I didn't notice. Tonight ..... NEW sheets good and tight. Oh will it ever feel good.
Every one knows how you shop at Walmart. You can make a list, and I had a long one, but you always see something you need anyway. A 2ft garbage can to fit under the counter, would you believe $20. And there were only 2 left. But, after a lot of searching I found a roll of 4 gallon garbage bags, just right for what I need for the can. Some other special brushes, always need those. A few groceries and it came to $149. Hey, when you move into to an RV, you have to buy smaller stuff and downsize. It costs to be economical.
Bought shelf paper but it became tedious measuring and cutting so I started just wiping the bottom of the drawers with Oil Soap and moving on. They look like new anyway. There are dozens of cabinets and drawers here but trying to figure out a pattern is useless. I put some can goods in one pantry cabinet, but they seemed to be better situated in another. Setting up house is no easy task. The last time I did this was 38 years ago.
The roofer measurers showed up at 5:30. I was ready for my shower but it took them 30 minutes between the measuring and the chit-chat. I was more than ready for a beer and a shower by 6:15. It sure tasted good, and that warm shower did too.
Have one more beer, watch some TV, some good food, and I will be more than ready for that oh-so comfortable bed.
That's life for someone way over the hill in Groves Texas.
To be continued: