The Flood

This last Memorial Day Texas was hit by devastating floods. It’s hard to imagine now since it hasn’t rained all summer and everything is crispy and dry, but there was water everywhere and it simply wouldn’t stop coming. It’s either feast or famine around here (though usually famine). My five-year old son has been telling everyone he meets (the librarian, cashiers, random people in the grocery store, etc) that they should “come to our house so you can see how brown the grass is”. Ha.

Anyway, the flooding this spring destroyed my in-laws house (Adam’s mom and stepdad). Instead of going into all the details myself, I’m just going to post part of an e-mail sent out by my brother-in-law Keith (Adam’s older brother) because it covers everything quite nicely.

From Keith…

“My brother Adam woke me up early Sunday morning to tell me my folks had climbed onto their roof waiting their turn to be evacuated by Blackhawk helicopter. I threw some sledge hammers, shovels, and bottled water in the truck and left 30’ skid marks down my street as I peeled out of my neighborhood headed North (no way was I going to let my Mom ride in a Blackhawk before I do!). I had no idea what I was headed towards. I stopped at Wal-Mart once I hit the highway and filled my truck with kayaks and life preservers (just in case). When I arrived at the house, I found the water had already subsided and my Mom was just pushing an inch of mud around the entryway with a broom. She just stared at me for a few seconds like she was trying to figure out where she knew me from, then she just said “some water got in”. I just hugged her for a while and then I assured her it’s all just stuff and it can by fixed or replaced. Since that moment, we’ve had unbelievable help from family, friends, the community, and H-E-B. What has really blown me away and taken me down a peg, is when helpers arrive with food or labor and my Mom sends them to the neighbors because they “might need it more”. Day four and I still haven’t heard them ask for anything… simply amazing.

sweeping mud

The water was over 5’ inside which didn’t spare anything. All appliances, furniture, cabinets, art, photos, fixtures, and cars were destroyed. I’m going to head up the rebuild. Since Sunday morning we have gotten busy demolishing everything in the house up to the first floor ceiling. The sheetrock, insulation, cabinets, trim, doors, and flooring have been completely abated. Yesterday I rented some de-humidifiers and fans to start drying the framing. That’s where you come in. I’m in desperate need of skilled labor, materials, prayers, and funds to put this thing back together. Insurance isn’t going to help, this is going to happen “naught without labor”. If the house is dry enough this weekend, I would really like to get insulation and sheetrock going. If you have time, resources, tools, trucks, materials, buddies, brothers, or neighbors that know their way around a job site, we can use them. I’m in need of everything from garage doors, sheetrock, batt insulation, doors, windows, and appliances. Thanks in advance for your thoughts, prayers, assistance, and time.”

If you’ve never been around flood water before, let me tell you something…it is disgusting. Things that would normally be okay getting wet can’t be saved from a flood. Here are a few pictures of the house after the water receded.

IMG_3319 F

IMG_3321 F

IMG_3318 F


Like Keith’s e-mail said, everything was a total loss and the house had to be stripped down to the studs.


ripping out sheetrock

kitchen (studs)

There are five kids in Adam’s family, and his stepdad has five as well. We have a lot of family, and everyone came out of the woodwork to help. There were volunteers everywhere…friends, relatives, and strangers. Local companies (HEB, Whataburger, Salvation Army, to name a few) helped out with food, water, bathrooms, and a host of other donations.


And just so we’re clear, I did nothing. I wanted so bad to put on my work clothes and be part of the solution, but with three little guys at home (and Judah being only 2 months) it was best to stay at home. So on one of the days that Adam came home all muddy and disgusting I told him that I hated feeling useless and wished there was something I could do to help. He replied “well you DO write a DIY blog and have some connections….why don’t you e-mail companies and see if they will donate supplies?”

Well duh….that was a great idea. So I made a list of stuff we needed and got to e-mailing. Unfortunately I didn’t hear back from most companies (evidently I really need to work on my pitch), but two responded immediately.

Ryobi was the first to answer and offered to send a much-needed pressure washer. They shipped it lightning fast and when it arrived Adam excitedly tore into it (he LOVES to clean things). Not only did they send a pressure washer, they sent their biggest, most powerful, most expensive one – a 3100 PSI gas-powered pressure washer with a Honda motor.

Ryobi 3100 gas powered pressure washer

Isn’t that so generous? Here’s a one minute clip of Adam using it…it’s so satisfying to watch all that mud and muck wash right off.

Adam and I own a whole bunch of Ryobi tools, and I have to say that we love them. I was a little skeptical when we first got them because they are so reasonably priced, but they have been awesome. I LOVE that they are cordless and you can change the same battery between all our tools (they make 50+ tools use the same battery), and it’s so nice not to have to drag around extension cords or use a huge (and loud) air compressor for our brad nailer. Plus they are just a great company to work with. So if you are in the market for tools, consider Ryobi (they make everything!)

The next company to answer was Mohawk. They were wonderful and offered to sell us their SmartStrand carpet and a really great discount. Adams parents ended up going with a local company that was offering a crazy low prices just for flood victims, but I wanted to give Mohawk a shout out because they were so responsive and I could tell that they genuinely wanted to help.

The house is slowly going back together…the walls are back in, the flooring is in, windows are about to get replaced, and my brother-in-law Keith is in the process of building new cabinets. The outside looks quite a bit different too!

flood before and after

It seems that 2015 is has been the year of building for Adam and I. With the combination of our house, our friends Darin and Jody (the ones who are building the same house as us and are a few months ahead), my brother (who is building in our neighborhood) and my in-laws house we pretty much live and breathe construction. Speaking of, our foundation was poured today! We’re going to let it cure over the weekend and framing should start Monday. I’m so stinking excited to watch it come together. Next week I’ll post the foundation details and from there the updates should be coming more quickly (I just need to find quiet time to write them, thats the tricky part.)


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  1. Holy Crap! Your poor in-laws! I can’t believe the damage water can do… unbelievable. I’m so glad things are on the mend. And meanwhile, how awesome is your extended family! Lucky girl. I’m always dubious about Ryobi too, because they really aren’t expensive, so I really appreciate your feedback… you know, for far in the future when we own our own home!
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    • I know right? The first time I pulled onto their street after the flood it looked downright apocalyptic.
      And I am lucky, our family is great. My boys get three sets of awesome grandparents and lots of aunts and uncles.
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  2. I’ll add another shout-out to Ryobi. We have their chop saw, which I love, love, love. Great tools, great company.
    I’m glad your in-laws’ house is getting back to normal. Such a scary situation. So much work to fix. It’s nice to hear stories about how good, kind, helpful and hardworking people can be.
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  3. Wow! Glad to hear your in laws are getting back into their house and are ok. Looking forward to the updates on your home.

  4. I am so sorry about your in-law’s home but this truly is an uplifting story about neighbors being neighborly and very helpful. Unfortunately the media fails to publish things like this and puts all the evil things in the press. The next time I need to buy a tool for my husband or sons, I will buy a Ryobi just because of the kindness they showed your family. That is everything in my book!

    • Yes, the media isn’t big on uplifting stories are they? My husband is a police officer, so reading the news these days makes my stress level skyrocket. And despite all the crazy stories my husband has, I still believe that the majority of people are hardworking and kind.

      Thank you for the support! I e-mailed this post to Ryobi, I’m sure seeing your comment will make them smile :)
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  5. Wow I remember seeing these exact pictures after the flood. Such a sad time in our community. So glad your inlaws had a rally of support and are doing well. Praises that they are okay too!

  6. Jan Elizabeth says:

    Holy toledo! I know what that’s like. The NIGHT BEFORE we were moving house we had a 100 year storm and BOTH of our homes flooded – the one we were handing over the keys to at noon the next day, and the one we were moving into. Total nightmare. I’m so glad your in-laws are being taken care of by all of you! There will still be losses that can’t be replaced, but the main things will be taken care of and they will certainly know how loved they are.
    How great of Ryobi and Mohawk! Good to know there are companies out there who understand the idea of neighbourly reciprocity.

    • Jan! BOTH houses?! That is crazy and sounds horribly stressful. What ended up happening? Had you already moved your stuff out? You’ve hooked me…
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      • Jan Elizabeth says:

        No. In fact we’d been piling up boxes in the crawl space for weeks (the house was a four level split with a crawl space under the third level), and since I was still teaching out of my studio on the fourth level, we were hiding the boxes away to keep things fairly neat. So when the first part of the flood came, sewer backup, we were in the crawl space on our knees in this awful brown water, chucking out boxes like a fire line. That was terrible, but then the water started cascading, actually cascading like a waterfall, over the foundation wall THROUGH the drywall into the studio! That was one of the freakiest moments ever. I just stared at it and panicked, wondering if the whole house was going to be destroyed, and I would own a wrecked house and owe another house to the buyer, as well as owning the house we’d own in another 12 hours. About then is when one of our friends came down into our basement and said they’d gone to check on the new house, shone a flashlight through the basement windows, and all they could see was the shine of water in the dark. Meanwhile this whole time there was a terrible, terrible storm raging, and my 15 year old son was out with his girlfriend celebrating their one year anniversary, and I was worried about him getting home safely…

        The aftermath: the next day we did move into the new house and hand over the keys. The wind was so bad that the rain was almost horizontal, and from the curb of our road to the school across the street was a lake. I have some mind-blowing pictures. We just had an uncovered utility trailer and a bunch of friends to help us move, no moving company because we were only moving around the ring road in our small town. Our friends were a pillars of strength, and I don’t know how we would have survived without them! It turns out our insurance had a rider on it because we were in a flood zone (though nobody knew that then) and we had just enough insurance to cover fixing the basement in the old house and fixing my piano, which, despite putting it up on blocks, had water creep in and saturate all the felts, as well as damage the finish. Our new house got fixed by the previous owner’s insurance, but it was a real fight because he hadn’t been living in the house at the time and they tried to say he abandoned it. (Which was ridiculous. He was checking it every day.) They asked us to tally up the cost of replacing all the wrecked things in all those boxes, and we figure we lost over 20 000 worth of everything. We later got a cheque from Alberta Disaster Relief for 5000, which was the max they would give. At first they nobody was going to give us anything. Insurance covered sewer backup but not overland flooding (which is what happened when the lake came through the wall), and Disaster Relief covered overland flooding but not sewer backup. Each said that because the other had happened, they wouldn’t cover it. We had a huge fight on our hands! I’m tired just thinking about it.

        One of the biggest lessons I learned: Never underestimate the power of water!!! And never underestimate the power of your friends and loved ones. I’m sure your in-laws are feeling that way right now. Our friends were the silver lining to this whole thing, and what they did is not even repayable, I think of it as grace taking human form. :)

        Thanks for asking! I haven’t told that story in awhile.

        • Wow, that is such a crazy story! What a mess! Fighting insurance companies is the worst too, and you have to fight it on two houses for multiple disasters.

          Thanks for taking the time to share!
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  7. What a mess. I always expected a flood would be horrible, but these pictures prove that I was right about that. I would be so glad to help if I lived anywhere close, but I am in Alabama. Even still I can certainly pray…pray for your in-laws, their neighbors, the volunteers and everyone effected in any way by these floods. You can pray from anywhere in the world, even Alabama! :)
    Good luck with everything. And I will certainly be continuing to buy Ryobi products and Mohawk products too (if I didn’t have hardwoods) and I will tell everyone else to do the same.

  8. Oh Ashley, how horrible for them! They were truly blessed to have so many wonderful people and family to help! I’ve been
    through 2 floods (not this bad) and I feel for them and will keep them in my prayers…

  9. Ellie a.k.a :) says:

    Devastating! Several years ago there were horrific floods in and around Calgary, Alberta, so we can sympathize with you. I was wondering if you had been spared. Your MIL sounds like a wonderful lady and so great to hear about all the help. There has been so much devastation this year with all the fires and floods combined. Take care and how’s that little baby doing?

  10. I’m a Wimberley resident, but not near the river so the most I had was some damage to my driveway and a minor roof leak (and lost a refrigerator/freezer worth of food since our power was out for 3 days, sigh). I was actually out of town Memorial Day weekend, but watched from afar via the local Facebook page. The damage along the river was beyond my comprehension – seeing 500 year old cypress trees snapped like twigs gives you a really good idea of the power of water. It is truly incredible to see how the communities have pulled together to help- local and national businesses, charitable organizations, churches, and the hundreds of people who just showed up to see what they could do to help. I am so sorry your in-laws suffered such damage, but thank God they are safe and able to rebuild, and that they have family able to help. Many thanks to your husband – LEO’s are having a tough go of it these days, but many, many of us are extremely grateful for their service.

  11. That is really bad flooding. I cant even imagine having to deal with that. When I was young we had a house near the Brazos river that would get flooded. After a couple of years of that my dad sold it. It was a lot of trouble to clean up and restore the house over and over again. God Bless and good luck to you!
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  12. Brandi in NB says:

    Ashley, I know it has been a number of months since this horrible disaster, but is there anything your family is still needing to finish recovering and rebuilding? I would certainly love to make some phone calls to see who would still be willing to help out.

    When my husband’s unit was returning from Afghanistan, I found out that over 70 soldiers were single with no one to come home to, thus returning to an empty barracks, empty frig and military chow hall. Two hours worth of phone calls and emails later, I had new sheets, toiletries, household supplies, laundry detergent (think of all of the soldiers’ uniforms that have been thrown into an industrial washer for the last year…..definitely not April fresh), restaurant coupons, gift cards, goodie bags….you name it! HEB, Target, Olive Garden, etc really stepped up and helped out. All we had to do is ask!

    • I swear I responded to your comment a few days ago, but I think I just did it in my head and not in real life. You are so incredibly awesome to offer to help! I always felt bad for the single soldiers after a deployment, but I was so wrapped up in Adam coming home that I never thought to do anything about it. It’s great that so many companies were willing to donate! I’m not sure what my in-laws still need, but I’m going to see them tomorrow and can certainly ask. Thanks girl!

  13. It’s interesting to read the story about the flooding, but the pictures you shared really show how devastating it was. I can’t imagine having floodwaters higher than my head in my home! I try and store important things higher up on shelves, but water that high would ruin everything. I loved reading about how your mother-in-law sent help to her neighbors instead of taking it herself. What a selfless act!

  14. I have the worst experience of flood! Flood water contain so many contaminants and mud. We had a deep flood which added damage to everything including more expensive electronics. It ruined all high dollar items at once. We claimed the insurance to rebuild everything by both the claimed amount and dollars of ours.

  15. Wow, its devastating how a flood could destroy so much. It’s good to see everything coming back together with these repairs. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Flooding can really destroy a home and a lot in it. In my hometown they just experienced really bad flooding but they are rebuilding!

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