The Day Our Home Flooded


The Day Our Home Flooded

It had been raining for ten days straight.

The morning of February 23, 2019, I woke up perturbed that it was raining again. It had been a long week trying to wrangle a three-year-old and a five-year-old in that weather. We had barely stepped outside all week, and the few times we did have to leave were a soppy, drippy mess. This particular morning was a Saturday. My husband was home, and all our weekend plans were once again ruined by rain.

Thank goodness it was a Saturday and my husband was home.

We sipped our coffee that morning in our downstairs living room and watched as puddles began to accumulate in our backyard. This wasn’t the first time we had seen backyard ponding, but it did seem to be rising faster than usual. My husband nervously paced, going up and down our stairs to get a good view of the water. In less than an hour, our backyard transformed into a muddy lake.

February 23, 2019, 9am.

The water hadn’t yet crested the stairs you see in that picture. Our living room, located just on the other side of that patio, was safe (we assumed) as long as the water didn’t crest those stairs. I poured another cup of coffee and groaned about another wet day. “Mom! I think the dog peed on the carpet,” my daughter yelled from downstairs. Awesome. I grabbed the carpet cleaner and headed downstairs. I knew something was wrong the moment my foot hit the last step.

Squish. Squish. Squish.

My bare feet sunk into saturated carpet with every step. A million thoughts ran through my mind all at once. “Kids, upstairs!” I ordered. After I frantically informed my husband that we had a problem, I did what any mom would do. I dug to the far corner of our downstairs closet and grabbed my most precious belongings: my babies’ hospital mementos. Those blankets, hats, and hospital bracelets were officially the first items salvaged from the flood.

February 23, 2019, 10am.

The hours that followed are both a blur and lasted a thousand years. 

As the day wore on and the rain kept falling, we eventually lost the entire bottom floor of our tri-level home. The walls, the carpet, the doors. By nightfall, the room we had enjoyed coffee in that morning was just a concrete slab with studs, which also had to be removed later due to water damage.

We would later learn that the water was coming in from all sides and below us. The ground was too saturated from the previous ten days of rain. An additional 5-7 inches of rain that fell on that one day was more than the ground could bear. Laws of physics require that the water go somewhere. There was nothing we could have done.

But this is not the story of the day our home flooded with water. It’s the story of the day our home flooded with love.

Knoxvillians, let me tell you something about your community. They. Show. Up.

We realized water was coming in around 9am. By 10am, eight men from our church were at our house beginning the work of pumping out water and saving our furniture. Over the course of the day and the days that followed, over 20 different people volunteered their time to work on our house. People brought meals, offered to babysit my kids, and sent gift cards. Some of them, we didn’t even know! My inbox was flooded with people offering to help — everything from Girl Scout cookies to a place to stay.

Sure, we would have loved to take our kids to the beach this year instead of spending tens of thousands on repairs (none of which is covered by insurance), but TRULY, we feel very blessed to have witnessed firsthand the love of a community after a disaster. Knoxville, you should be proud.

We’ve learned quite a bit about water mitigation in the past few weeks, but we’ve also learned about the things that matter the most. My whole family is safe. Even the collection of baby things I initially saved mean very little compared to the safety of my family. Watching my husband defend our home against the tide of groundwater will always be one of the most heroic things I’ve ever witnessed. For several days following the flood, our children’s mental and emotional health was our top priority. Forcing ourselves to remain calm for them in those initial days has set the tone over these last six weeks of rebuilding.

No one hopes their house floods. No one hopes for any kind of disaster. But I do hope that some day, in some way, you find yourself needing help. And when that day comes, I hope you reach out and let your community show up. On your worst day, I hope you remember the love more than the disaster.


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