The aftermath of the Great Flood of 2016 has been minimal for us at Cypress Bayou Farm compared to the devastation of so many in our state. On our road alone, people sustained 4-5 feet of water in their homes and the piles of debris at the end of each driveway grow each day. As I drive down my street every afternoon, I see remnants of my neighbor’s lives sitting in a trash pile at the street – antique beds, entire dining room sets, clothes, pictures, artwork, toys, all destroyed. The grieving process that people are going through right now is heartbreaking. Entire families, Mom and Dad, Brothers and Sisters, Aunts and Uncles, have lost everything and have to start from the ground up. When I say “lost everything”, I mean water rose as high as their roof and the framework is all that remains after gutting their home. Countless stories of heartache and destruction are heard day by day and it seems everyone has been touched by this flood somehow. Louisiana is a resilient state after enduring many tumultuous hurricanes over the years and I know we will survive this flood and come back stronger than ever. What is even more apparent during these hard times though is the love we have for each other. Neighbors helping neighbors on this grand scale is something you pray for always and it is ever present here in Louisiana. It has surely restored my faith in humanity.
As for our little hobby farm, we were extremely fortunate and our main house did not flood. It was inches away from reaching the floor joists but we were spared. Once the water reaches those floor joists under the house, the moisture begins to affect the floors, causing severe buckling. Our insurance adjuster said we were very, very lucky. When we realized that everyone on our road practically flooded, it started to sink in how fortunate we really were in this flood.
Once the waters receded, the work on our attached store room began. The 2 feet of water didn’t do too much damage but there was some work to keep us safe from mold. Everything had to be removed and dried out.
Andrew had to say goodbye to a fridge/freezer that he spent time decorating over the years with some of his favorite stickers. I was even sad to see this work of art go.
Since the store room is attached to the carport and open to our attic above where our A/C units are located, we worked hard trying to dry it out. We began noticing a lingering musty smell and decided to gut the sheetrock 4 feet from the ground.
The demo project wasn’t too bad since there wasn’t insulation behind the sheetrock.
Not sure if the fuzzy mold we saw behind the sheetrock had been there all along, but we felt much better after the mold was treated with a Clorox solution.
Now, the barn is a totally different story. I call it BARNAGGEDON. Water rose approximately 4 feet in our barn, moving old composted manure from the prior owner throughout the entire barn, causing a pretty big, smelly mess. A weird white film was beginning to grow in the remaining water on the barn floor.
Lucky for you the horrific smell that accompanies these pictures can’t be transported through cyberspace. Take my word for it – it was awful.
The dirt floor in Sparkle’s stall washed out significantly and held water for a long time after the water receded. It didn’t help we kept having heavy thunderstorms 2 weeks following the flood.
The moisture and humidity caused mold to grow all over the place. It’s not a pretty sight.
Andrew has experienced some moments of depression about the barn but he quickly reminds himself that it could be much worse.
We count our blessings every time we think about griping. We had plans to renovate the barn but the flood pushed the renovation timeline up a little bit. Since we try to remain debt free through most of these projects, it may take some time before we finish the barn.
In addition to the flooding issues, we also suffered several roof leaks during the massive rain storm.
And yes, the buckets and bowls are still up in my attic today. It seems all of the screws and boots to the roof vents need to be replaced because they are rusted and/or pushing out of the metal roofing material. Although we have a lifetime metal roof, maintenance is still required since the screws only last about 15 years. I’m thankful it’s only the screws and once the maintenance is done, we will be in good shape for the next 15 years. We are pricing the roof work right now and will hopefully fix these issues soon.
Another looming issue exacerbated by the flood is the foundation to our home. Sounds serious, right? Well, it is. Shortly after moving in, we realized water drained under the house and would sit until it dried in the summer heat.
Having standing water under your house in South Louisiana brings a whole new host of problems – mosquitoes, termites, unstable foundation and eventually sagging floors.
Because we have a metal roof, the water travels at lightning speed towards the ground and under the house because the grade is wrong. Normally, you want the grade to slope away from the house to allow rain runoff and proper drainage.
Unfortunately, we are in the category of sloping towards the house. You would think we could easily add dirt underneath and fix the problem. In order for this method to fix our issue, you would need to lift the house. Right – let me just hop on that.
Right now, we are in the process of requesting a few gutter quotes for the front of the house because that is where most of the water comes from during a heavy rainstorm. Before the flood, we installed some creosote soaked railroad trusses and drainage rock in hopes to create a berm for roof runoff.
Because we didn’t get a chance to anchor the trusses before the flood arrived, this entire berm system moved and floated off during the flood. Moving those back into place was so much fun, let me tell you. Hope you are picking up on some of that sarcasm.
We have received a couple quotes on drainage options, both very expensive. We can’t drain the water to the street because it floods and installing a pond in front would possibly flood the front yard even faster. At this time, the only thing we really can do to keep water from sitting underneath the house after a heavy downpour is to install a sump pump and divert the water to the swale on the side of the house or the pasture. Once the gutters are installed and we reinstall our berm system, we will be in much better shape.
*This is the set up for a sump pump in a basement but it’s the same general idea for under a house on piers except you have trenches under the house where the water collects rather than a drain system outside the home like the diagram above.
You think we are a tad overwhelmed? Well, we are. We are both trying to keep it all in perspective, focusing on the positive things in our life. We love our home, our property, our animals and still feel called to be here. All of the headaches and expense are worth it in my mind. We understand how incredibly blessed to not be gutting our home and starting over right now like so many people around us. Although we have lots of things going on and continued expenses, we trust God will see us through each one. He saw us through the grand termite debacle, the leaking windows, the never ending stain project and He will see us through this season too.
As for the animals…
Nibbles and Nacho are getting bigger and bigger every day.
We added a protein feed to their diet and they are in hog heaven! They love it so much they end up fighting over who gets to be first at the feeder. It’s pretty cute actually.
Their pen has remained pretty disgusting since the flood.
The rain just continued and it hasn’t had a good chance to dry out completely. They are sloshing around in muck day in and day out but they don’t seem to mind at all.
Hogs are dirty. I accepted that fact early on in our new found farm life. We clean their water bowl and feeder, only to find them filthy an hour later. Dirt and mud are their best friends. They love to roll in it, sleep in it, snuggle in it. Most people aren’t prepared for the hogs’ filthiness when they visit our farm. These pictures show you the dirty reality.
Sparkle spent over a week in the neighbor’s pasture during and after the flood. Upon her return, she remained out to pasture until her stall dried. She is finally back on a regular schedule and we are enjoying riding her more, soaking up the beautiful views. It doesn’t get much better than that.
As for our newest rescue, Gypsy, she’s adjusting quite well too.
She is by far the best snuggle bunny in the house and will curl up wherever she can find a spot.
The pooches, hogs and horse give us so much joy in the midst of stress and struggle right now. We allow ourselves time to laugh at little unexpected moments and escape for a minute. As we approach another phase of BIG AND EXPENSIVE projects on the farm, we remember to stay committed to God’s word and we turn to Him for guidance. His word gives us comfort during some of our hardest days. We aren’t alone through any of this.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
We will survive this season and will be stronger because of it. The battles are what strengthen our soul and none of our pain is wasted in the end. We learn from it and grow with every single step.
Until next time friends…