What I Lost in the Great Flood of 2016

If everything was lost in a flood, what would you replace?

One year ago today, I made the first post on the Do A New Thing blog.  It’s almost an unwritten rule on your “bloggerversary”, you have to write a post on what you learned in your first year of blogging.  But I’m not doing that.  Instead, I am marking a more significant date.  One month ago today, the Great Flood of 2016 began to overwhelm my community.

One month ago today, I received a text from my daughter with silly pictures of her husband playing in the knee-high water in their backyard.  An hour later, I received the tearful phone call. “Mom, the water’s coming in.”

A day later, we watched as the Amite River flowed down our street.  As the water came higher and higher in the yard, we picked up and protected what we could, loaded ourselves, daughter, son-in-law, two dogs and a couple of suitcases into our vehicles, drove through 18″ of water and spent the night with friends in a higher part of the neighborhood.

25,000 classic comic books pulled from the shop
25,000 classic comic books pulled from the shop

Thankfully, when we went to check the next morning, our house was spared.  The water came just to the door but not in.  My daughter ended up with only a couple inches in her house … just enough to have to remove flooring and drywall, doors and cabinets and make a big mess.  And while my husband lost almost the entire inventory of antiques and collectibles to three feet of water in his downtown shop, we consider ourselves so very blessed.

Even though we did not lose any personal belongings, reflecting on this last month, I feel like I have lost a lot.

I lost my attachment to stuff

The loss of “things” all around me is overwhelming.  Most neighborhoods  have a six-foot high wall of stuff in front of every house, waiting for the disposal trucks to come pick it up with their giant claws.  Flooring, furniture, clothes, appliances …  all the things gathered over a lifetime destroyed in a few hours.

Stuff as far as you can see!
Stuff as far as you can see!
And it was H.O.T. outside with no A/C!

My friend’s home with water almost to the roof.

The “Cajun Navy” rescued thousands from their homes.

Our bare church (we were secretly thankful to get rid of the red carpet!)
Our bare church (we were secretly thankful to get rid of the red carpet!)

I sat in my bare-floored church, surrounded by people who have lost everything singing praises about rising above, trusting and walking through the dark waters.  And  I was almost envious. What freedom there must be in starting completely over with only the things you really need.  To be forced to break the emotional attachment to stuff that consumes our time, money and energy.

Some of what was lost was irreplaceable …  important documents, family photographs, heirlooms handed down from generation to generation. But if I had lost everything, what would I really replace?   A deep desire to purge is stirring in me.  To go through all my belongings and only keep what I would have replaced, or what would have made me cry to see in a pile by the street. I long to start over with less.

I lost my balance

The food bank parked trailers at our church and we gave away food, supplies and hot meals to hundreds of people in our community.  A long line of cars snaked through the parking lot, spilling out onto the major road and snarling up traffic.  I was trying to help hand things into cars and keep that line moving.  But our pastor’s sweet wife, Sheri, was stopping every car, introducing herself, asking how they were, what they needed and inviting them to church.

The food bank line
The food bank line

I seriously wanted to scream  — LET THE LINE MOVE!!  I  had to walk away, telling a close friend, “I just can’t stand here and watch this.  It’s making me crazy.”

I am painfully aware that I tend to put projects over people.  Laying in bed that night, I knew that where I saw a long line of projects to be pushed over to the DONE side of the list, Sheri saw hurting hearts who needed a kind hand on their shoulder and a word of encouragement. She lost most of her home’s contents in the flood and still was able to reach out to others.

The next morning at church, I had a good laugh about it with Sheri. I told her how I reacted, but how much I admire her ability to zone out the long line and focus on the one person in front of her.  She said how much she needs people like me in her life to stay on track and productive.  It’s definitely a balance.  I lost mine that day but I’m learning from friends like  Lynette, Mickey and Leigh Ann who are able to be productive and loving at the same time.

I lost my delightfully empty nest

My daughter has always been offended by my blog bio that mentions my “delightfully empty nest.”  It doesn’t mean that I was glad to get my kids out of the house. It’s more that I’m delighted at seeing what God is doing in their lives and mine in this new season.

She and her husband are staying with us while the repairs are done on their house.  Old habits die hard and within a few days, I was already leaving the house saying, “Clean up your room, do the laundry and empty the dishwasher.”  Just like old times.

We’ve walked with them through the maze of flood insurance and FEMA claims, a million decisions to be made for the contractor, adjusting to being a speech therapist on the move instead of in a classroom.  I’ve been impressed by how they have handled the things that need to be done.

My son made supply runs from his nearby college town and made sure we had everything we needed.  Both of my kids have have acted like real grown ups and it has been a blessing to see.

My nest is not empty (temporarily!) but it is still delightful. Even if she DOES need to clean up her room!

I’m thankful to be part of the 10% of my town who lost little materially in the Great Flood of 2016. But what I’ve learned from the 90%, from those who have lost so much, from those who still have so far to go, makes me proud to be part of this community.

Maybe you weren’t impacted by a flood or other natural disaster, but what have you learned in a time of crisis?  What habits or attitudes have you lost that really are a gain?

**Thanks to my friends Jessica, Jimmie, Molly and Joanne for providing some of the pictures used in this post.  Please be praying for them as they continue to recover. 

Linking up with Kelly Balarie at #RaRaLinkup, Crystal Storms at #IntentionalTuesday, Dawn Klinge at #GraceandTruth, Susan Mead at #DanceWithJesus and Holley Gerth at #CoffeeForYourHeart

23 thoughts on “What I Lost in the Great Flood of 2016”

  1. Thankfully i have never suffered but I have friends that have lost everything – it makes me count my blessings that I never had to go through is – sorry for your family and your community that you have. and Happy Bloggerversary Christa x

  2. Thanks for sharing your bird’s eye view of the devastation. You have a unique perspective that I’ve come to depend on for objective updates. You’ve been like a reporter on the scene, involved and reflecting the whole picture. God is using your gifts in many ways. I’m continuing to hold all of y’all close in prayer. Blessings to you!

    • It has been amazing to see some of the ways photos can be restored. We have scanned a lot of our older family photos and have them saved “in the cloud”. And lots of people have lost Bibles. Our church is staring an emphasis on gathering new Bibles we can share in our community to replace ones that were lost.

  3. I am so sorry!
    I completely understand about the attachment to things, but it is still such a painful thing to go through what went through. Thank you for sharing with us!

  4. Floods imoacted my state last year. People lost their belongings. In 2014, financial floods left me devastated. Within a short period of two weeks, the banks foreclosed on two houses. I had to be out of my home in days. I scurried around to find an affordable place to live. This was not an easy task. I had to get two loans just for the deposit and rent. Two years prior I had been diagnosed with hypertension after having a stroke. I had to sell a lot just to move. Today, I am searching for a condo. Good us able to restore.

    • Rena, thank you so much for sharing that. I know that people everywhere have lost much in so many different types of crises. God does indeed restore, often so much more than we lost.

  5. Continuing to pray and be amazed by all of you and tearfully hoping to also be content with less. And you know I would’ve been the same way about the long line as you were! I need to learn from your pastor’s wife too! Thanks for reminding us about perspective, my friend.

  6. Oh Christa … that you have gained so much in the midst of such overwhelming circumstances is a testimony of your faith.

    May each day lend you hope, encouragement, and peace as you and your community move ahead …

  7. Felt emotional reading this, I can relate with this as we had a house fire some years ago, only a portion got burnt but everything else was smoke damaged. It definitely messes with your balance and gives you a whole new perspective on life. Praying for hope and peace for you and your community while you rebuild.

  8. This is an absolutely fantastic post. I am sitting here sucking up tears, trying not to get emotional. You did a beautiful job with this and I so admire your spirit. I think I would have grumbled and complained the entire way, even if I was in that 10%. And I certainly wouldn’t have been like Sheri. Praise God for people to learn from!

    • Kristin, you would have done better than you think. When you are rooted in God, even in crisis you can respond with love and grace and a servant’s heart.

  9. Certainly great lessons to learn in this tragedy. I learned similar lessons in the earthquake in Nepal 10 days after I moved into our home here and then it was destroyed. I had always said I could live happily anywhere so making an unplanned move and losing some of the things we lugged across the world tested that. But I saw such amazing testimonies of faithfulness from the Christian population here. Stopping over from Purposeful Faith. God bless.

    • Amber, they are hard lessons to learn, but so freeing. I imagine the loss was devastating because you surely only brought with you the things that really mattered. I’m glad you passed the test! Thanks for stopping by.

  10. This post really puts things in perspective and has me asking myself about the “stuff” that I value. It truly is just stuff. I’m so glad to hear that your home came through unscathed and that you managed to praise God and be thankful throughout it all. God is good!

  11. Hi Christa,
    Oh your pictures are so striking! What a hard time your community has gone through this summer although going through difficulty and challenges makes us stronger. And the help of friends brings such support!

  12. “To go through all my belongings and only keep what I would have replaced, or what would have made me cry to see in a pile by the street. I long to start over with less.”
    This is a great idea! I think I’ll try it! Then, maybe I can get my room cleaned up. 🙂

    But on a more somber note, I am sorry for all the trials your community has had to go through. It is good to see you all working together, though, to help each other get through it all.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this post on Grace and Truth – what an encouraging and inspiring message. May God bless you and your family as you recover from this devastation and so generously help others.


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