Home Flooded--Reef Lost--What to do?

Pastey

New member
Been away from the forums for a little while mostly due to life being hectic and my tank sort of taking a back seat. Aside from fighting a cyano problem, my fish were all happy, my simple corals were doing well and I was keeping up with the maintenance. About a month ago, Louisiana was inundated with flooding and, unfortunately, we were forced to leave our home as water was coming in the house.

The rain started on that Thursday evening and it poured pretty much all night. Friday, I went to work knowing that the rain was not going to really stop. Living in LA, we are used to flash/areal flooding...it's just a part of life. You learn which areas to avoid as they flood easier than others. Halfway through the work day, I sent my guys home as reports of road closures were trickling. I wanted to make sure my employees (and myself) were able to make it home as the rain was not forecast to slack off for a while. A 20 min. drive home turned into a 3 hours fiasco as I tried every route I could possibly find. I finally found ONE and drove through ~2 feet of water but I made it home and that was all that mattered. I had made a quick trip to the store to stock up on food for the weekend as we were expecting not to be able to get out of our neighborhood for a few days. We were set.

Friday, we watched the water fill the street as the rain kept coming down. Our neighborhood was relatively new and was built up quite a bit compared to the surrounding/low lying/flood prone area we were located in. We were nervous even at that point but by Friday afternoon, the rain had sort of slowed to a drizzle and the water level had seemingly stopped rising. We went to bed Friday night feeling pretty confident that we were just in a for long weekend of sitting at home and since we had power / internet, it wasn't a big deal.

Friday:
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Saturday morning, we awoke to water that had dropped about 2 feet. We could see the crown in the street. We thought "Well, that's over!" We knew the roads connected our subdivision to the main roads were very lowlying and would still be covered but the threat to our home was over. We made pancakes and I watched some of the Rio olympics....it was going to be a quiet Saturday morning. After we ate, I saw a lot of vehicles going down the street that our subdivision is off of that happens to be a dead end so I figured they must have been going to look at some of the flooding so my wife and I hopped in the truck and drove back. We were not prepared at all for what was happening just half a mile away. The river (Amite River) was RUSHING across the street. It was rushing and it was moving FAST.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8l91eTCJ8Y

People's homes were destroyed and it was obvious that this was much more than a minor inconvenience even to our small little area. The total time we were gone from the house was ~45 min.

The water was LOWER than in this picture at that time:
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After 45 min., the water had risen this much:
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The water had begun rushing out of the woods to our east (towards the river) and was FLOWING east to west down the street...the current and the volume of water was unbelievable. We were starting to get really nervous at that point...I think it was roughly 11 or 12 by that point. People were starting to assess their next move...some were daming up their doors...some were just kayaking up and down the street. Keep in mind that no one in our neighborhood was required to have flood insurance due to our flood zone designation...the nervousness was palpable as people tried to determine the best course of action to save their home from water. We helped a few neighbors make "mud bags" (think sand bags but with mud) and helped them dam up their doors...in hindsight, this was a lost cause but we didnt know when the water would stop rising. We actually HAVE flood insurance but decided we would do what we could...no one wants water in their home.

Fast forward a few hours....
By 3:00, our back patio looked like this:
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By 3:30, the water was coming in under the walls and doors...we were done. It was time to go. My wife had made hotel reservations across town. We knew LOCAL volunteers were ferrying people across the flooded areas to the main road near our home but we didn't know how we would get across town...I assumed we would hitchhike a couple of times. When we left, the power was still on but I knew the power would eventually be cut to our area either by flooded transformers or manually for safety reasons. I knew my tank was done for at that point...I said my goodbyes to my fish.

We walked about a 1/4 mile out of the neighborhood in waist deep water carrying what we could....including a 14 lbs. cat I had in a carrier on my shoulder. The first boat was a short ride of about a 1/4 mile. We walked about a mile to the next spot where there was a mixture of volunteers, Wildlife officials and what I think were reserve officers....the boats all had large outboards which I thought was kind of overkill given that I assumed even a kayak would suffice to get us out. Couldn't have been more wrong. These guys were almost up on plane at certain parts to overcome the current...an underpowered boat would have been swept away...I tried not to think about what would happen because "downstream" was nothing but trees and the rooves of homes that had been flooded so badly, that was all you could see of them anymore. We made it out to the main road and it was completely clogged with service vehicles, volunteers, people getting picked up...it was a madhouse. There was a line of vehicles, to our saving grace, that was picking up strangers and taking them places...shelters, etc. The woman that picked us up was kind enough to take us 30 min. across town to our hotel room which saved us from having to hitchhike...I don't know if I had ever been so thankful for something as simple as a ride in my entire life.

Once we had time to decompress (and shower...god I stank), the entirety of what had just occurred weighed on us. We were without home and we were only guaranteed 2 nights in this hotel. We packed maybe 4 or 5 changes of clothes, we had a cat but almost none of the things a cat needs. It was utterly overwhelming. And I kept saying to myself, there are THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of others who were just like us and many much worse. I couldn't wrap my brain around recovery.

After a few days, the waters had receeded enough that we could get home...luckily, I work for a car dealership and I was able to get a truck so we had transportation. We couldn't drive all the way home but we were able to park and walk through some folk's backyards.

The tank, at this point, had been without power for ~72 hours. I had zero hope for anything being alive...
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The story isn't all doom and gloom though...my mating pair of Occ. clowns were still alive (barely) and my blue chromis was swimming around wondering *** the big deal was and why he hadn't been fed in 3 or 4 days. I was able to get them out, transport them back to hotel room, buy enough NSW at Petsmart and keep them alive until I found a local reefer who would keep them until I was able to set up again.

Fast forward again...we're now nearly a month since. We now live in a rented home and will be doing so for about 5-6 months. The home has been completely emptied: all floor ripped up (minus the tile), sheetrock cut out up to 24", baseboards, door jambs, etc. all pulled out. Couches thrown away...all appliances except the fridge throw away, anything in the lower cabinets tossed. The only thing in the home now is fans and dehumidifiers. The cabinet team is coming this week to remove (and hopefully save) our countertop granite so that I can demo all the lower cabinet and remove the remaining sheetrock. We (my wife) is nearly done with our contents list for insurance and we hope to have everything submitted to flood insurance soon so that we can get under contract with a contractor to start the rebuilding process. On top of the normal job duty, this has been like having a 2nd and 3rd job for us...we are just now getting to where we are running out of things WE have to do and it's almost time for professionals to do the rest.

Everyone around here has been affected by this. Either you were flooded, had close family that was flooded, know someone who flooded or, at the very least, your life has been inconvenienced by road/business/school closures, traffic and shortages. The national media coverage (or lack thereof) was pathetic. We don't want "attention" for the sake of attention. The more attention this garners, the more sympathy there is. The more sympathy there is, the more the federal government is urged to step in and help. Between the joke of a presidential race and the Rio Olympics, this flood was a sort of foot note on the week.

However, the speed at which the city/area is recovering is amazing. As soon as people could get back, they were in their homes, ripping apart their homes. Recovery started almost immediately. Not a day of working in our home went by without a neighbor (with whom we probably had never spoken to) would come by, offer assistance, food, tools, or maybe just 10-15 minutes of welcomed distraction. A lot people think of Katrina when they think of Louisiana flooding and, thanks to negative media coverage, have less than positive memories of the stories that came to light during that time. I am proud to say, however, that we saw the absolute best from the people who live here during this time. I don't get to say I'm proud to live in Louisiana very often but this is one of the few times I can.

Sorry this went on so long.....for those not interested in my novel, here is the TL;DR version:

Our home flooded.
My tank was nearly completely ruined.
I'm not sure if I want to rebuild my 200DD tank, get rid of everything and start with a new tank or get out of the hobby completely.
What say you?
 

ssick92

New member
Wow, amazing story. I'm sorry for all of your livestock lost and any other families going through the same thing, but glad that your family is OK and recovery is under way. I can't even imagine going through something like that.

With that said, this is normally the kind of event that would put someone out of the hobby for good. However, what I have found is that whenever I don't have a tank up and running, I feel like something is missing and I get the urge to set up a new tank (my most current is just a 10g nano). I wouldn't make any decisions in the recent wake of this, but wait it out and see how you feel when you get back in your newly renovated home, but I'm willing to bet this won't be the end of the hobby for you :)
 

Grayhead

New member
Let me say that I am so sorry for your troubles. We see stuff like this on the news and it never really sinks in unless it touches home somehow. I really like that as a community you pulled together to begin recovery. That is what living in a free country is all about. The reef, homes, vehicles and such can all be replaced. You and your families lives are more important, and the cat I guess.
Good luck with rebuilding. Hopefully the insurance is generous enough that you can pay without dipping into your savings.
 

d2mini

Premium Member
So sorry, flooding sucks! :(

Get your life back in order. Take care of your family first.
Reefing is just a hobby. It will be here when you're ready, whether that's 3 months from now or 3 years from now.

Good luck!
 

thewbell

New member
I have the same situation at my house with 2-3' of water and I lost all of my livestock in my 120. Only good thing was most of my electrical equipment (Apex and modules) were mounted a few inches above the water so everything works. I debated getting out, but I am trying to look at this as an opportunity to start fresh to see the light.

We are in a similar situation with the house gutted and playing a waiting game with insurance so I know how you feel there. Good luck on your house and don't be discouraged.
 

Pastey

New member
Thanks everyone...I'm sure the hobby will pull me back in at some point. It will be a long while before I'm able to set up anything more than a nano though. My new office/building is nearing completion and I've thought about setting up a nano there but it's too soon to tell if that will be possible given the space. thewbell, we wound up with 5-6" which was enough to cover the bottom of my stand. I'm fairly certain my Dart return pump is toast and my Apex leak detector sensors as well (ironically). We are going to attemp to claim everything inside the stand knowing that the actual stand is probably all that will be covered.
 

pinnatus

King Kennard
Premium Member
Pastey/thewbell-

If you need anything, let me know. Be glad to lend a hand. I am housing some other peoples fish for them.
 

Pastey

New member
Jordan has my refugee fish in his sump. I made an attemp to save my 2 ft. wide toadstool but it kicked the bucket...while being housed in a bucket. Couldn't find anyone that was able to accommodate a large coral like that. I was really upset about losing that...hard to find them that large.
 

BigDave

Premium Member
We just went through something similar during a hail storm here in Texas.

Just keep telling yourself, that things will get better, cause eventually they will. We had to live in a hotel for almost 2 months because we were one of the 'less affected' in our area. I have quite a few neighbors still living in apartments around town while there houses are being rebuilt.

I know what you mean about recovering. It was surprising how many people just picked up tools and started doing stuff right after the storm left. We spoke to neighbors that we've never talked to before. It's interesting how much a disaster can bring everyone together.

The only recommendation I can make is find your builder now. Even if you don't have the money from insurance yet. Some of my neighbors are still waiting for builders to finish other jobs before they can come work on their house... The hail storm was in April.

We just got our house finished this last week even though we were able to get back into the house in mid-June. We're still waiting for one of the AC units to be replaced.

My only saving grace is I had just started building my new tank prior to the storm, so the tank just sat empty in the house while the construction was going on.

One thing about your insurance... just claim everything. My insurance didn't even double check the personal property claim and just wrote us a check for everything I sent them. Keep all receipts for eating out that you do. Most insurance companies will provide you a daily living expense if you are unable to cook food like you normally would.
 

Maxi

New member
I'd start over with the new peninsula tanks or a lagoon from IM. Simple, lower cost. Lots of dimensions to play with and very pleasing to the eye.
 

pinnatus

King Kennard
Premium Member
Jordan has my refugee fish in his sump. I made an attemp to save my 2 ft. wide toadstool but it kicked the bucket...while being housed in a bucket. Couldn't find anyone that was able to accommodate a large coral like that. I was really upset about losing that...hard to find them that large.

2 of my rescue fish are living in the overflow. 2 clowns. Can't get them out. I check on them, and they seem to be doing fine.

I couldn't house your toadstool either, since my big tank has been copperfied, but could have housed a frag or three in my 10-gallon.
 

Pastey

New member
Dave, I'm pretty much an eternal optimist so staying positive has never been a struggle for me :) and we absolutely are claiming anything within the scope of flood damage. We are a lot better off than most having not got multiples of feet of water and having flood insurance. Lot of people are having to pull money from savings, 401k or having to take out loans...if it weren't for my wife working in insurance and forcing the issue of us having flood coverage, we would not have had it. I am a bit of a cheapskate sometimes and was supremely confident that we had nothing to worry about given our elevation.

Glad you and yours are finally finding some normalcy after your storm. I've seen some bad hail but I've never seen the kind that can do that kind of damage!
 

Pastey

New member
2 of my rescue fish are living in the overflow. 2 clowns. Can't get them out. I check on them, and they seem to be doing fine.

I couldn't house your toadstool either, since my big tank has been copperfied, but could have housed a frag or three in my 10-gallon.

None of the other corals were even remotely close to surviving and the toadstool may have been a lost cause anyway. I just wouldn't have been able to forgive myself if I didn't at least try. Once I saw bristleworms floating in the water, I knew it was done for.
 

Wazzel

New member
I lost a tank to Katrina, feel your pain. The people are safe and that is most important. If you decide to start over hit me up if you want SPS.
 

joshky

Acros & Wrasses
Good luck rebuilding, sorry to hear about the hardship you and your family are going through.

I lost a tank to Katrina, feel your pain. The people are safe and that is most important. If you decide to start over hit me up if you want SPS.

:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
Great sympathy here---glad you're on your way back. We had our 8 day power out, but at least it was dry. Floods are beyond awful.
 

Pastey

New member
Power outages for any reason are a nightmare for us. When we land in our "forever" home, the first investment will be an automatic switch, full-home generator and the chance of living anywhere that floods is pretty slim as well! I guess how quickly I bounce back to reefing will be determined by how we come out financially at the end. The good news is that we are making some changes to the home that we had kind of wanted to do but since the home was only 4 years old, it didn't make much sense. We are changing the living room wood flooring and all carpeted rooms to wood-look tile. Im especially excited about this as small spills around the tank were always happening...now they won't be such a big deal. We are also having the contractors drop a gas line for a gas range so we get rid of the electric stove that we hate. Our main TV in the living room got a lot of condensation on it so we are replacing that...who doesn't like a chance get a new TV? So it's not all bad news...just finding some thing to get excited about in the midst of all this is a nice change of pace.
 

BigDave

Premium Member
I'm the same way with optimism. I think it's what kept the family from freakin' out too much.

We did the same thing with the remodeling. We ended up remodeling our bathroom to make our shower bigger and we put new hardwood floors in instead of the carpet. We also got the whole house repainted.

Now is the perfect time to make any changes you want.

Both of our cars were totaled, so we took the opportunity to replace my car with a truck. The wife chose a turbo over the convertible and is happier now too.

One thing I wish I did was start a blog about the ordeal. There was so much that happened during that process... including me ending up on TV.

Good luck.
 

Pastey

New member
Little update on our situation and my eventual return to all things aquatic...
We are still living in the rental home but the repairs to our home began about a month or so ago. Insulation and sheetrock have been installed but the trim that needs to be installed is on back-order so we are nearing a stand-still before paint can begin. Cabinets are on order but there is a ~10 week wait there as well. In better news, our new TV arrived and has made me realize that we're lucky to still have vision after watching our old Stone Age TV for so long. We are attempting to order our new living room couch but custom furniture like what we want may take 2-3 months to arrive.

On the reefing side of things, I'm picking up an IM 20 Fusion set up this coming weekend. I can't set it up right away as my new office is still not ready but it's a step in the right direction.
 
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