Twice-flooded Home Demolished – Memories Remain

Bayou Woman walks through hurricane flood waters
Bayou Woman walks through hurricane flood waters.

Many of you new readers here haven’t had a chance to read the stories of hurricane evacuations, flooding, and the resulting cleanup.  You’ve missed out on the trials and tribulations of dealing with The Road Home program, designed to help those who had flood insurance intact to recover from the floodwaters of Hurricane Rita in 2005.  She was the storm that made landfall on the southwestern coast of Louisiana, close to the Texas border. Even so, my parish, 180 miles to the east, experienced a 9-foot storm surge that put about a foot of water in our home, which was about four feet off the ground at the time.

New House Completed July 2010
New House Completed July 2010

The Road Home turned out to be a long road home, which is the best way I can put it.  Lest anyone begrudges us this help to rebuild, just know that the hoops were many and high, sometimes ringed with fire.  The six-year process was laborious, tedious, and drawn out beyond belief, but in the end, well worth the test of endurance.  Our family didn’t qualify for hundreds of thousands, and rightly so, as our home wasn’t worth a whole lot in comparison to those in New Orleans that flooded from the first of that double whammy of hurricane havoc in 2005–Katrina.  Yet, we all suffered just the same.

With our flood insurance reimbursement and help from The Road Home program, we were able to eek together enough to build a meager metal house, above the flood plain.  What a relief to be 11 feet in the air.  We’ve been high in the sky for three years now, and the final phase of the being “made whole” was the demolition of the old house.

Old House Kitchen Porch, pre-floods
Old House Kitchen Porch, pre-floods

Since y’all were with us during the time of building the new house, I thought you might need to be part of the demolition of the old place, just to provide closure, as it were.  Maybe it has taken me two weeks to write about it because the final reality of the old house being gone was a little like ripping off a band-aid that has been on the wound way too long. Seems odd, but I’d gotten used to seeing the storm-blighted building on the front of our property.

We had lived in the old place since our youngest, Termite, was a baby.  It’s the only home he knew. We reared five children in that place, lived a lot of life, and made a lot of memories. Good thing about memories–they remain intact long after the final bits of debris hit the dumpster.

Demo of Family Room - View from the road
Demo of Family Room – View from the road

On a hot and humid August morning, the demolition crew showed up around 9:00 AM, with an excavator, a Bobcat, and a dumpster-type truck.  Clearly, they were ready to rock and roll. While they put everything in place, I lolly-gagged around, and before I knew it, the excavator engine roared to life, sending me scurrying to get my camera.  

Heck, I almost missed it!  Starting in the center section of the house, the big bucket banged down on the roof, gouging it out in no time at all.


Bedroom Trailer Demo - view from the new house
Bedroom Trailer Demo – view from the new house

Then, the operator shifted to the right, attacking the bedroom side of the house.  The huge machine made light work of knocking down the roof and walls.  





Kitchen-Dining Demo - view from new house
Kitchen-Dining Demo – view from new house

Turning then to the kitchen-dining trailer, the ease with which that section tumbled down was just mind-blowing.  The parish official next to me said, “And that is why NO ONE should ride out any kind of storm in a mobile home.”  Uh, yes sir, I had to agree.

Then using the big bucket like a broom, the operator swept everything into a big pile, while I sat on the front porch of the new house watching with mixed emotions.  My friend, Kim, was down from New Mexico, and I’m glad she was with me offering moral support.

Piling up Debris - view from the road
Piling up Debris – view from the road

And then I saw it!

What looked like my old big, heavy metal filing cabinet that held years of files and other paper detritus of life, tumbled over on the rubble heap.  “Oh no!  What is that still doing in the old house?”  For you see, the old place was so stinky and full of mold and depressing, that I had not been in it in a very long time. I thought everything we wanted to keep had long since been removed.  

Kim said “Hurry!  Go ask him to stop. I’m sure he will let you get your filing cabinet!”  It took me a few moments to get up the courage to ask the operator to stop his frenzy of destruction long enough to look for my filing cabinet in the rubble heap.  

Yes, it was there, badly dented and distorted, but still holding the treasures of time and tax records.

The jaws of the bucket beast latched onto the crumpled cabinet, as the operator swung it over near where we were standing, letting it drop from its claws with a heavy thud.  The second worker generously hopped aboard the Bobcat and brought the filing cabinet, placing it under the new house so we could pry the mangled drawers open and retrieve their contents. 

Filing Cabinet Salvage
Filing Cabinet Salvage

I have to thank Kim for prodding me to interrupt their progress long enough to retrieve the filing cabinet.  While there might not be much in it that really needed rescuing, I know she was right when she said I would regret not having the chance to go through it.

It’s amazing how 15  years of life in a place was demolished in mere minutes.  Well, our lives weren’t demolished, but you know what I mean.  Of course, it took much longer for them to haul off all the bits and pieces of our old homestead, but the horrible memories of living in a place that had flooded twice–during Rita in 2005 and again during Ike in 2008, didn’t go with it. During the demo, the dank smell of mold and mildew that we had lived with for six years wafted through the air, giving me the courage to say “Good riddance to old rubbish.”

Demolition Complete
Demolition Complete

To all of you who, like us, pay your taxes, I would like to say thank you for your part in donating (albeit involuntarily) to the Road Home dollars that eventually helped us re-build above the flood plain. Be reassured that we made every penny count, we were conservative in our choices, and we never, ever took the program for granted.  To those of you who volunteered man hours, our family is forever grateful to you and thankful for your love of mankind and your generous spirits. Hopefully, your family will never need such help, but if you do, we will not begrudge you the government dollars and volunteer manpower to help you recover.  Plus, we’ll be there lending a hand if we can!

Old Home Site all Cleared - view from the new house
Old Home Site all Cleared – view from the new house

Now, I can see the beautiful Bayou Dularge and the marsh beyond with my morning coffee. At first, I felt naked and exposed to all the passers by, having been so shielded from their passing by the old, blighted house.  But just a short two weeks later, I can appreciate the view while the old house becomes a faded memory. It comforts me to know the life we experienced there will be re-lived in the stories our five children share for many years to come.

Gratefully yours,


PS:  If you click on a photo, it will appear in a larger version with the option to view all the photos in a slide show!  Nifty feature!  Enjoy the photos, y’all!

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  1. Thank ye for sharing this – I know what a journey it has been getting here…and now…what a beautiful view ye have from the “Miracle Treehouse” – and a big, lovely tree to guard yer privacy (and buffer occasional noise), too!

    I have to ask – was there a stampede o’ critters, when the tractors came?
    that photo o’ ye wading into the house with the canoe…yikes…am I seeing a water line just below the roof?

    1. No, my good captain, that is not a water line. Thank heavens, lest we would have certainly jumped ship at that point. Or should I say abandoned ship? There was not a stampede of critters that we saw — just an angry swarm of bees not wanting to give up their honey!

  2. I do remember all the hoops you said you had to jump thru to get that bit of assistance. It was a long road but, you have a wonderful home now and that view is fantastic!

    Am I dreaming or at one point during the building of your new home, did you post a question asking us to guess the size of the new house? Seems there were rooms being partitioned off with the 2xs and firebreaks and a few photos of each area that would eventually become certain rooms.

    1. I guess you were dreaming!! I looked and looked for that included in a post about the new house and never found it. Maybe it was in the comments. Regardless, the exterior measurements are 60 long by 30 wide, with the inside being less than that after you consider the front and back porches. My best estimate is about 1200 sq. ft. total living. Happy to have it!

      1. 1200 sq. ft. is what I have. My old home is 32′ deep and 42′ wide on the outside and 30×40 inside. Our walls are 6″ thick and absolutely no insulation in them! But as of this past week, it is now level! I can actually sit in my chair at the desk and not roll up under it!! It was off by 3″ on that side of the house!

        1. I’m picturing you rolling under the desk, LOL! Glad you got leveled out! My walls aren’t that thick, but there is some insulation. After living here 3 years, I have discovered all my design/architectural mistakes, and say ‘next time”, but there’s not going to be a next time. Acting as my own contractor was a big job, and one I don’t relish doing again any time soon. Oh, and the laundry room is not quite wide enough. But, it’s things we can live with. All in all, though, we got a decent house at low cost because of some volunteer labor, self contracting, oak floors given to us by my friend, Mark, from his storm-felled red oak trees. Live and learn.

    2. I do remember that! It might have been in the comments, but it was about the time that the electrical work was being done. I remember studs and ladders and a lot of open space!

  3. You know, I just was over in Chambers County a few weeks ago, and I suddenly realized that the blue roofs all are gone. Galveston is abloom with new plantings, and the trash seems to be entirely picked up. The homes along Galveston Bay are either being rebuilt or are demolished, and there, too, the trash is gone.

    For a while, Galveston looked so empty and forlorn with all of its missing live oaks. Now? There are lots of new palms, and the oaks that remain are coming back.
    It’s funny to think of the cycles of life. The oaks Galveston lost in Ike were planted after the storm of 1900. Now, the new plantings will take root, and in another century (no less, we hope!) they may be blown away, too. But life goes on, and as you say — the memories live.

    Happy new view from your front porch!

    1. I’m glad to know that Galveston has recovered . . . it HAS been six years already! let’s hope those new palms are never blown away . . but what an interesting parallel! Yes, indeed, it is a happy view! I can see way into the marsh to the west now!

  4. I am always happy to see tax dollars used in this way. Enjoy you new home with its lovely view. Btw, I so enjoy you blog, it gives me a little feel of the culture I left so many years ago.

    1. Hi Toni and welcome again to the bayou! So happy to provide a little touch of back home for you. I know you must miss it deeply, because there is no other place and culture like south Louisiana! Thanks for your kind words, and thank you also for visiting and taking the time to leave such a sweet comment! It’s great having you here!!!

  5. If you hadn’t gotten up to tell the excavator to stop, I was going to! I couldn’t stand it! 🙂 I’m really glad you were able to get the contents of it back in your hands.

    Even I have memories of your old house. I loved the kitchen porch with it’s flowers. I had a few good meals in that kitchen too. And, I loved your private bathroom!

  6. Nice now you going to plant that space with perma culture or something?

    Getting started on steroids that I hope will let me get down there soon. Otherwise I got no idea if I can even maintain up here much longer. Stupid back is doing me in before the CnD get me.

    1. Funny you should mention that. just read a book this weekend on survivalist permaculture. Wish i had done this on the back part of my property years ago. I don’t intent to do that in the front yard, though. Hoping the steroids help and that you make it down soon. We’re on the same page because I’ve been having a little back pain myself. Annoying as all get out. Hang in there, Blu, we’re rooting for ya!

  7. Thanks for showing this.I LOVE THE HOUSE AND SINCE IT IS SO HIGH, it probably is cooler too! you concreted under the house didn’t you? The colors you chose inside are very similar to my colors.

    1. The color inside is called Delta Fog, and I copied it from a friend. When i saw it in their house, it seemed to change hues with the changing of daylight, and everything seemed to go so well with it. I’m terrible at interior design, so copying someone else is the best i can do!!! I’m glad you enjoyed seeing the house. I call it a hybrid house because it’s made from metal and wood. The entire framework, including the trusses for the roof, are made from red iron. The only wood is the interior wall framework and the floor. I chose this because after hurricane Katrina, I drove down to where the people endured a 25 foot storm surge to the Hopedale Community. The only thing still sitting atop its pilings was a metal structure. It’s not really aesthetically pleasing to look at a house with siding that should be on a commercial warehouse, but I went for stability and storm worthiness. That’s what matters most.

  8. Dearest Lady~ As always, your writing is a joy to read and eye opening at that! I cannot imagine this entire journey and to finally see beyond the past. It’s true that memories stay with us and here is wishing you and yours many more new (and good)ones.

    1. Hi Kim, you know what they say? What doesn’t kill us . . . . it was all worth the trouble after recovering from everything, but really don’t care to go through the entire process ever again! it saddens me that such a great recovery program was abused by many people, making in tough on those of us who were doing the right thing all along. But forward ho! making new and good memories, right? And new friends!

  9. Enjoyed your account of your experiences with Rita. I too experienced to wrath of Rita. Mary and I had 18 inches of Rita’s water and mud in our house across Bayou Dularge from your place. After flooding 3 times, I found out that I was not as Hardy as you. Your article was beautifully composed. Your command of the English language is impressive. Thank You!!!

    1. Raoul, well, the older I get, the harder it is to stay and battle the elements. So much has changed regarding building regulations since you left. If you would have had flood insurance in place all three times, you would have qualified for the ICC money to elevate, which was $30,000 for a house the size of yours and my camp. It is directly connected to your flood policy, so there’s no hoops to jump through. I would have encouraged you to elevate and stay so we could visit and drink coffee in the morning, cold drinks in the evening, swap fishing stories, and heck, maybe even wet a line together!!! I’m sorry we didn’t get to know each other while you and your wife were here. Oh, our outdoor writers conference might be at Toledo Bend next year. I’m not sure what town, but some place that can accommodate 50 or 60 overnight guests and a banquet for 100. I’d love to go there since Toledo is where i learned to fish with my mom and dad . . . great memories of getting in a bream hole and fishing with crickets pulling out bream the size of a man’s hand! Great hearing from you, and thanks for the kind words!

  10. I remember now. No mud bath on lower level. mistake. I think I ‘d put the laundry down there too and screen room most of lower level. Then you could get by on 900 sq ft. Which I intend to do if I survive.

    1. it’s tough going up and down steps to do something like laundry that happens a lot around here. I could live on less, but it’s not just me. i still have 3 other people to consider. You on the other hand, could easily get by on 900.

    1. Have you seen it from the road in person yet? I got used to being tucked away back here where no one could see. Can’t recall now how I lived comfortably so close to the road before for 15 years!

  11. Well with the pulley system to dry clothes it ought to drag them up to living level. Steroids kicking my butt but think that might be good sign. Off to do battle with renter I got by mistake. I didn’t need this this week.

    1. Now, Blu, you know i can’t use a clothesline with that big oak tree in the yard and all the bird poop! Watched a fat squirrel building a nest in it yesterday morning while listening for the first shots of gator season to ring out. I heard Capt. John’s first gator bite the dust at 7 a.m. and not far from that one, the second one met its demise. Good first day for him and his son . . . 22 gators, ten foot and under. For the first time in many years, i didn’t get to take photos at the gator-buying dock. other business had me in town all day. maybe today I’ll get some snap shots at the dock. Did you notice my left shift key doesn’t work? 😉

  12. Been in Ms. You have more than memories. I think some of your best writing came out the “old homestead”. I loved “getting to know you and your family” through your blog.

    1. Hm. Well, i guess i’d better step it up and do some better writing in the new homestead! You and I go back to the days of Lady Anglers’ forum, when it was alive. i became friends with those folks . . . from your neck of the woods, and they have no plan to carry that on. They’ve made it a FB page, but I had asked them to sell me the domain name so I could do something with it. It was a great idea that just didn’t take hold at the time. Anyway, Reel Woman, i’m so glad we are friends, and you and hubby need to get on some trout action down here this fall/winter!

        1. Sometime I need the scoop on Mississippi camps, deer, ducks, turkey and freshwater fishing? Right now bigger fish are frying me.

  13. Oh I remember those hoops all too well. Due to my Dad’s limited education and reading ability, I was tasked with dealing with his insurance company, Road Home program, and the USDA for his farm losses. I did this all from the state of Georgia where I lived at the time—while I worked full time, continued to be a wife and mother, and tried to train a puppy that was an escape artist. (She was affectionalty named Lagniappe) That was the only time in my life I ever thought I might have a nervous breakdown! (Seriously) One afternoon when I had put the paperwork on hold so that I could clean up after a puking kid, I happened to look out the window just in time to see Lagniappe climbing over the fence–again. Yes—this 12 inch dog could climb like a squirrel I finally decided something had to give if I were going to come out of the ordeal sane. I couldn’t abandon my Dad, and no one wanted my kids (kidding), so the puppy had to go!

    1. I know the punctuation was jacked up in that post……put either my ipad or the site was messing up…..I couldn’t add, delete or correct anything. :-/

    2. Hi PJ – never even noticed the punctuation, I was so captured by your words. I can certainly sympathize what you. Can only imagine how difficult it was to help your dad from so far away. one almost needed to be a lawyer to get through the maze of paperwork. Folks don’t realize, either, that we had to sign legally binding documents for the Road Home, which were binding to the property for three years and required a legal release at the end of it all. Not to upset you, but if your dad used the Road home program to rebuild, did you ever get your release? I had to stay on them about mine until I got it so my property could be released back to me, the owner. I’m still wondering how some folks got away with taking the money and using it for other things, like vacations and new cars. unbelievable! Well, you definitely had your hands full, and I had no clue you were doing that for him or we could have commiserated during it all! But we’re through it now, and I know you miss your daddy bunches. Don’t even get me started on kids and puppies and all that jazz! Great hearing from you!

  14. Lagniappe sounds like Ari escape artist and smart enough to play dumb about stuff useful in escapes.
    I’ll take a bad dog over good kids any day. Too old to change but been that way since preschool .

    seems really hot up here today to me but thermometer never hit 90. must be the drugs.
    Back pain has split up. high in shoulders and low toward right leg. tired of food up here which is not good cause of disease driven weight loss. not at all sure if bored senseless or leaning toward depression. must be side affect of spending every second of every day looking to get rid of pain. off to feed the big dog and scrub the new to us dogloo (The Ari Dome)
    some more before painting.

    No pics of the Warpath full of gators? Wonder if John can put me on wild pigs with it? I’ll really have to improve to do that. carry on. oh got me some muscadine jelly. bye fer now.

    1. The Warpath isn’t used for gator hunting . . . just the old homemade mudboat and the new GatorTail he won at a CCA Banquet two years ago. It’s been raining every day when they came in, so no pics from me. Been hoping to see one or two from him, but nothing yet. We don’t have an abundance of wild pigs in this area, thank goodness. It’s a real problem over in pearl River, though. Bro-in-law south of shreveport is a hot hunter, tho. Oh, and plenty around the deer camp up at chatham. All you can do is keep on keeping on and read the email i sent you from Steffi!

  15. BW, don’t Labor too hard today. It is a holiday you know. Hope everyone has a nice day.
    BTW, Hubby is making repairs (design) to the “Chicken Palace” today. No Holiday for him. HE JUST WOULDN’T LISTEN! I finally gave up. Too large, too heavy, OVER built (never let a former industrial tank welder/builder work with wood). I can’t tell you how many screws are in it. It will survive another Katrina hands down! My “girls” might not, but the Chicken Palace will! This project has been a nightmare!
    Delete if you’d like, I needed to VENT! Go ahead…laugh.

    1. My memory isn’t serving me well . . . did he attempt the Chicken palace after seeing my chicken tractor? Even that little thing got too heavy for me to move by myself. So, you have chickens in the backyard now?

      1. I’ll try again. I’m having trouble posting. Our stupid computer is giving us problems. Anyway…No he didn’t make an “A Frame” tractor. It’s 12’L x 5’W x 4’H with the nesting boxes coming out the back. I’ve got 6 hens. Only 1 of them are laying though. I was going to buy some hens near us, but he talked to a friend that was at a livestock auction. Hubby told him to get us 6. He did. One laying, 3 Pullets, 1 molting (or she’s loosing her feathers because she thinks it’s too hot) and 1 that just eats and poops. I WILL BUY THE FUTURE HENS. It may be soon if they don’t start laying. We’ll be having some chicken and dumplings, then I’ll buy some more hens.

        1. My daughter and her husband built what I call a “chicken mansion” for their chickens. That pen and house is nice! She has doors outside the roosting/laying house that she opens to reach into the nest to gather eggs. She doesn’t have to go into the pen at all unless she wishes to gather fertilizer.

          She brought 8 dozen fresh eggs over yesterday for us to share with her brother, my mom and a friend of mine. And they are soooo good when they are fresh.

          1. Well, honey, 8 dozen fresh eggs sounds divine. Makes me wish I had chickens again. My family consumes a lot of those incredible edible eggs! What a versatile and necessary food source!

  16. Pretty busy this week not so busy next week thinking going to put the dogs in lock up and go for a drive for 3 days. Of course just typing that means unscheduled med tests and poking and prodding and bunch of annoying stuff to decide that yep I am a very sick person with medical issues too. LOL. No winning this thing.

    1. kicked out of chemo for open lesion , knew it was coming now for all the appts doc visits insurance nonsense etc.n hmmmmm life is grand, right?