What you see in the picture is a side-by-side of the beginning of the water rise and the beginning of the work to remove the saturated carpet. We are safe, and did not have to evacuate.
I sat in my then-dry home and watched Harvey continue to roll toward us throughout the day Saturday. I had already prepared; we weren't going to evacuate, and we moved almost everything that could be carried upstairs. What threatened us here between Houston and Galveston would not be wind, but water. And my neighborhood would not be at risk of water that could come up to the second floor—that's physically impossible1. I picked up Angela from work on Saturday after she had a bout of vertigo, and she and the kids went to bed Saturday evening.
I woke Angela and Winter at 1 a.m. We spent the next hour and a half or so getting the rest of the first floor prepared for water, as I watched it creep up on the porch. I'd forgotten about the closet under the stairs. Forgotten about a few other things that could have gone up to the second floor. We rushed to get that taken care of. I tried to gorilla tape the front door. Figured maybe that would slow it down. It didn't slow it down.
Not a minute later water was gushing in the back door. Five minutes later, we had half an inch in the house. Water seeped through the walls. Before we went up to have showers at 3 a.m. the water was up to our ankles. I snapped that photo and called it a night.
Sunday morning the water had receded completely but the evidence of its final height was all over. Five inches. Water lines on the walls, the couches, the kitchen cabinets. We spent Sunday ripping out carpet from one room with a terrible utility knife. Monday, my parents were able to come over and help with the carpet in the other room. We also started removing drywall to get to the wet insulation behind. Mold can set up in the first 24-48 hours after saturation. We set up a portable fan to try to get air circulating as best we could, to try to dry the floors as quickly as possible. We only had one, but it worked well (thanks, Dad).
Behind one wall we found what appears to be black mold. I posted the picture you see here to Facebook and asked my friends and family what they thought. Several thought it was black mold as well. Long story short, I do not believe Harvey caused this; the placement and what's behind that wall suggest that a history of standing water whenever it rains is the more likely culprit. An adjacent wall, which backs up against the porch, has no mold at all.
Carpets, gone. Walls will need to be torn apart, have their insulation replaced, and then rebuilt. The kitchen cabinets will have to be removed and replaced because they are up against exterior walls. We will lose two couches, two bookcases, a TV/entertainment stand, an armoire, and my awesome La-Z-Boy recliner (that was originally Angela's when she was nursing our oldest child, a present from her parents). The aforementioned kitchen cabinets. The washer and dryer. All the doors have warped and may or may not be salvageable.
Our cars took on water, but not very badly. They both started up. My floorboards were wet but not the seats. Angela's floorboards and seats were wet, but I do not think that the water was up over her seats; I suspect that the water simply touched the seats, but the seats absorbed it. We'll have the cars cleaned and looked at by a mechanic when this is all over. It's unlikely they'll have enough damage to reach the deductibles on our insurance policies, though. There's a small victory.
We were told when we bought the house we didn't need flood insurance because “this neighborhood never floods.”
We have applied for FEMA assistance and may get some relief there. It's unclear at this time. Our homeowner's insurance does not cover anything. Our windstorm insurance may or may not do anything, but probably won't. We have some expensive damage, but the family is safe. The kids were great. They had a few times when they were a little scared, but they don't have an adult perspective on these things, and Angela and I didn't give them one. They didn't fully grasp the situation, so they were more annoyed about being stuck in the house than anything else.
We have power, air conditioning, food, water, even internet. The damage to the structure is going to cost a lot to repair. But we were luckier than a lot of people.
As I write this on Tuesday, August 29th, 2017, the rain has let up. It's a sprinkle outside, with gusts of wind. It's nice. If we hadn't just gone through what we just went through, I'd love it. A rainy, breezy day is one of my favorite types. The forecast says that the rain will come and go for the next two days, but not with any serious strength. We're about done with Harvey.
That's my story. There's more detail I could have added. Ever been woken up at 4 a.m. by a tornado warning and feared for your children, wondering if a tornado would hit the house? I assure you, what you feel at 4 a.m. is different than what you feel at 4 p.m. All the bravery just goes right out of you.
At the company website, Greg posted a statement from Apogee about Hurricane Harvey relief. Please donate to the Red Cross.
I have had friends and family reach out this morning offering donations to my family. I was reluctant to accept, knowing that while we have expensive repairs and no flood insurance, there are people worse off. My friend Bhavik reminded me that it's important in times like these that friends and family be there for each other; I wasn't asking, he said, he was offering. I see his point. It's not just about the money, it's also about the moral support and knowing people have your back.
I would only ask, as I did when Greg made his statement, that if anyone wants to chip in some money to our family to aid in our repairs that they also consider the Red Cross. So, so many people are in need today.
The Red Cross has launched a massive relief response to this devastating storm and needs financial donations to be able to provide immediate disaster relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Good luck, Texans.