Hurricane Irma: One Year Later

photo of a flooded house, a house with walls missing, and a woman and a man

It’s been one year since Hurricane Irma and I can honesty say that this has been the most trying year of our lives.”

(Read our previous post about the Smiths losing nearly everything they owned in Hurricane Irma, here.)

Update from Karen: We were able to completely move back into our house after 8 months. We still had a few rooms to complete, but, were able to do that once we moved back in. We just finished tiling the guest bathroom, had the tile in the main part of the house re-grouted, and installed tile in the bedrooms. The electrical, roof, windows and doors, heating & air, kitchen appliances, laundry and bathroom fixtures were all replaced. Everything was pretty much lost and replaced. We did 95% of the work ourselves so it took a little longer. We replaced only what was needed.

before and after of a restroomThe damage to the inside of the house was from 8 feet flood water. Most of the damage to the exterior of the house was caused by hurricane force winds.

The question I get all the time is, “Are you on the water and you why did you build in a flood zone?” We are not on the water, and, when we built this house over 20 years ago, we were not in a flood zone.

Everything that we have done has been done in preparation in case we were to flood again. We did not replace all the cabinets. We went minimalist and used stainless and metal cabinets for the kitchen and bedroom furniture. It’s different, but, it works for us and (its pretty much flood proof). Everything we do is related to surviving another flood.

Preparing for another flood may sound extreme but at the moment, that is our life. When you lose everything youinterior of a home being repaired own, you realize what’s important and what’s not.

We reorganized the garage attic with shelving and storage to act as a second story should we need to move our stuff above water.

We added stairs to the small attic over the master bedroom along with shelving and poles across the studs to hang our clothes and such. We also added shelving above the bedroom doors and laundry room for storage.

Our clothes are hanging on clothing racks that are on wheels. During Irma, the weight of the wet clothes pulled the shelves down in all the closets.

We were able to save most of my freeze-dried food and store it offsite. I am blessed with a friend that washed every mylar bag of freeze-dried food and stored it at her house for over 4 months. Another friend washed all of my mason jars of freeze-dried food. We lived off of our freeze-dried food during the rebuild. We even had freeze-dried turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

My plans now are to do away with storing freeze-dried food in mason jars because they are heavy, breakable, and cumbersome to store for us in our situation.

I also made “bug-out” totes of freeze-dried food. I was able to pull together enough food in mylar bags to fill three totes, equaling about 60+ meals for 2 people. These three totes will be moved into the RV and will be readily available to us when needed.

shelves of bins and foodNot having a real kitchen for so long, it was nice to be able to open a bag of freeze-dried chili, soup, stew, taco meat, and my favorite… biscuits and sausage gravy.

We are going to concentrate on freeze drying more meats – the freeze-dried turkey we had for our holiday dinners tasted just like fresh. Another goal is to put together some freeze-dried comfort food to give to others who might be in need during a disaster. I still remember some of the college kids that showed up to help us. They were thrilled to get jars of freeze-dried ice cream to take home.

Thank you to everyone who helped us make it to where we are today! We truly could not have done it without your help, kind words, and prayers.

Watch a slideshow of some of the rebuild, here.

Read the full story here: One Year Later.

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