We're just floored!

It all started on September 1, 2008 with a Category 4 storm called Hurricane Gustav, which made landfall near Bayou Dularge, LA and then continued upland, with tornadoes spinning off every which way.

Somewhere along the path of those storm-strength winds was Handy Friend’s  yard, full of mature majestic red oak trees.  For about 75-year years those great oaks stood strong, but this was one storm they just could not stand up to.

Five of them, each about 100 feet tall, met their match and lost the battle with the hurricane force winds of Gustav.  One by one they fell, King Pins of Handy Friend’s private forest.  The worst, though, were the ones closest to the house that came crashing down, taking the back porch with them.  With the shade of the back porch, so went the years of shade provided by those beautiful red oaks.

Being the resilient earth father that he is, Handy Friend decided to make the best of a very bad situation.

He turned his lemons into lemonade, or rather, he turned his trees into something more useful.  He hired someone with a portable sawmill to come to his house and rough cut the logs into board feet, which could then be finely milled into something more useful.

After the rough cutting was finished, Handy hauled the boards, one trailer-load at a time to a big building, and stacked them with air space between each row, where they could air dry over time.

After about eight months, the first batch was ready to take a ride to Baton Rouge, where they would be finely dressed for their final purpose in life.  And then after Handy used those newly-dressed boards to refurbish three bedrooms in his home, he asked us if we would be interested in any left-over materials for our new home.

Of course, I jumped at the chance to have recycled storm materials in our new home.  I had read about a couple in Opelousas, LA, who felled trees on their own property in order to build their home.  But this was nature’s provision, without having to purposefully end the life of any tree so that we might enjoy the outdoor beauty indoors.

So just what would the fate of these felled wooden soldiers be?

About 800 square feet of the newly-purposed planks took a ride down the bayou, where the storm that killed them made its entrance (how ironic?), to their new home and awaited their assignment in the newly-built air-conditioned home of BW and family.

With chop saw and floor nailer in tow and not wanting to entrust his trees to just anyone’s care, Handy Friend came down the bayou to help with turning the boards into a dream come true . . .

new hardwood floors for the Bayou Miracle Tree House!

Handy friend nailed each plank into place after I squared off each end with the chop saw.  At the end of two days, the floors looked like this . . .

They were absolutely stunning without any stain or finish on them at all.  They were so smooth from the planer at the mill, that I wished they could just stay this way.

As I learned from Handy Friend, it would not be in the floor’s best interest to remain undressed.  The wood needs to be protected for the long haul and wear and tear they will receive from about one hundred years of potential use underfoot.

Although I liked the natural color, in the end, I opted to go with a stain that I custom mixed, with much apprehension and hesitation . . .

The end result was so stunning, I don’t know why I worried so much . . .

Pretty enough just like this,

but once the baseboard and shoe mould are added, the floors take on another dimension.

This is the kitchen, and I’m noticing really neat ways that the light plays across the floors and walls in the new house.   See the light on the cabinets?

This is the journey of the Prairieville Red Oaks that gave their life so that the Bayou Miracle Tree House could have these gorgeous floors, that otherwise would be graced with the affordable.  And also the tale of just one more miracle that is making this hybrid house a home.

Thank you, Handy Friend, and thank you Mother Nature, in a very indirect way, for allowing something good to come out of a hurricane, after having experienced so much bad from four of the same over a three-year period.

One step closer to moving in,


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  1. I’m speechless! Those floors are absolutely beautiful! I’m tempted to drive down there, take off my shoes and just sit in your floor. Stunning!!!!!!

  2. Absolutely beautiful results, but the story accompanying the floor is even better than the floor itself.


  3. Those “Prairieville Oaks” should have just stayed right here in Prairieville! I could use about 1700 sq. ft. if you have any left overs. LOL! Red Oak flooring is wonderful. You’ll be so happy with them. My oldest son and daughter-in-law picked R.O. for their home after seeing the kitchen cabinets I’d had made. The grain of the the wood is so beautiful. The upkeep is easy too. Their flooring has seen a lot of HARD play from an 8 yr.old boy and a 5 yr. old girl.

    1. Well, June 1st was my “fictitious” move-in date from the beginning, and now that has come and gone, so it will happen when it happens. There was a major snag with Sears and the appliances . . . .

  4. Dangity that looks awesome. Now get you some Diamond Brite nursing home floor wax. Highly recommended by me.

    I got to get down there to tour these floor jobs. Choup de Mark had one going last fall. Looks like the fishing is picking up down Du too.

  5. Oh, these are fabulous!! I love them and the stain you mixed up is perfect!
    I like the story behind the wood also. I hate to see trees come crashing down during storms and what Handy Friend did with them is a wonderful way to use what was once his shade trees. Too many people cut them up and call for the trash people to haul them to the land fill!

    Want to come redo mine?? I have pine in some rooms and teak in the others and they are so very worn. And, your stain would go perfect on them!

    1. Thanks, Cammy, but I didn’t sleep all night the first night that I saw the stain in a big area. On a sample, it looked fine. But in a whole room it looked too too red. I adjusted the rest of the batch, and it turned out fine. Oh we saw so many trees hauled off by FEMA and burned. Huge 30-foot high stacks of them all over town being burned to ashes. It was very sad, so I was so happy to see him save his trees in this way, never thinking we might share in that reclamation!

  6. Breathtaking!

    What a wonderful way to turn tragedy into triumph.

    After Hugo, there were some attempts to salvage downed timber but not nearly enough of it was saved. Some folks just wanted the mess gone from their yards and piled it up for the massive debris pickup. Others would have liked to have salvaged some from the local forests but access was a problem.

    I do vaguely recall that a few groups of Mennonites from PA came down with their teams of horses and pulled some of the timber out of some of the more inaccessible areas.

    I’m sure only a small percentage was ever salvaged and that tons and tons of it was lost.

    1. Hugo? That was a terrible storm in Charleston, right? The horses were a great idea, but probably not enough man power or HP to get all those trees taken care of?

  7. The floors are absolutely beautiful.
    Your pictures and story couldn’t have come at a better time. A true “ray of hope” for those being affected by the oil disaster. No matter how bad things are at the time, some benefits can be derived.
    Just as the red oaks knocked down by the winds, lives are being knocked down by the oil spill. Through loving and caring hands the red oaks were returned in a greater beauty to be admired for years to come. With a continued faith in the Almighty, His loving and caring hands will bring those affected to a greater joy and happiness. There will be sadness for loss of the pass but joy and happiness for the future.

    1. Oh Robert, I am looking for rays of hope every minute, it seems like. The bad news is everywhere, and it has dampened some of the joy we are trying to feel in finally have a home above the flood plain that does not have walls full of mold, mildew, and the smell that goes with them. It’s been a long haul getting through all the recovery red tape, and then to have the journey detoured by the oil spill. I like the idea of these trees “living on” in our home “to be admired for years to come”.

      I needed your encouraging words that God will bring us to a greater joy and happiness for the future . . . . .

        1. Still in our twice-flooded home and all the accompanying molds, mildews, smells, rats; basically all the fun stuff that won’t be in the new house!

  8. Beautiful, simply beautiful! You were blessed and very lucky to get that floor. Aren’t you thankful for such fine and thoughtful friends? Their great generosity will be with you everyday.

  9. Diamond Brite is awesome stuff. Lasts about 5 years in residential use.
    I figure about one down there. Oh shoot fire ding dongs diddley doo.

    It is now called Dream Kote not sure if google can find but give it a try.

    I get it from local industrial janitorial supply.

  10. Your Handy Friend didn’t happen to have any flat, across the stump cuts of that gorgeous wood did he? Talk about some fabulous end tables! Or even a few left over pieces from the floor could be turned into a coffee table end end tables. Stain them a bit lighter than the floor, varnish and wax them to protect them from water and they would last a lifetime.

  11. Love the story and the floors. My husband tongue and glued some scrap wood together and varnished it to make a small breakfast table for us. Get compliments all the time.

  12. I used a car buffer with a spare handle attached. Pretty much doesn’t need it though. Best part is its shiny as heck and not slick. I used the industrial natural fiber buffer pad on my rental. Then applied this stuff. Saved me refinishing at 5/sq ft.

  13. O my! The floors are AWESOME! Kudos to you Handy Friend! I will be showing this to The Miller!

  14. BW, can’t add a thing. Those floors are beautiful, and the story is even more beautiful. Recycled wood is a wonder, and I’m so glad you’ll have those exquisite floors to remind you what beauty can come out of truly terrible circumstances.

    When Galveston lost all those wonderful, century-old live oaks in Ike, a good bit of the wood went to New England’s Mystic Seaport Museum to help in the restoration of the Charles W. Morgan, the only remaining whaling ship in the world. They just can’t find old oak with the size any longer – but the hurricane helped out.

    I’ve got a couple of cutting boards a Hill Country friend made for me from cherry and black walnut that was felled by storms on The Place. He laminated the wood just like butcher block. It’s a good way to use smaller scraps.