The Great Pensacola Flood

May 1st, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life

For those of you who live under a rock and haven’t watched the news this week you may not realize there has been this ridiculous killer storm moving through the Mid/Lower US.

Mom mentioned something to me about it Tuesday after seeing the news and ‘all the sad stories’ about people dying and tornado’s/flooding. I checked the weather online to see how it would look Wednesday for a run and saw it was supposed to rain, but that was it.

Right before I went to bed Tuesday night my landlord (& friend) texted me to see if I was having any issues. My house is in a low-lying area near the water so it has a history of water creeping dangerously close to the doors. I took a look and everything was fine, so I fell asleep at 10:30 without the faintest idea what was about to happen.

Around 12:30 I woke up and threw my heating pad off my bed. I often fall asleep with it on my upper back as it helps with my TMJ. When it hit the floor it took me a few seconds to register that I heard a splash sound.

That was weird.

I get up and when I put my feet on the ground they are in a few inches of water. The immediate minutes that followed were a bit of a blur. Imagine getting woken up like that and frantically trying to think what to get up off the floor first, and holding your breath as you walk into each room of your house to see your belongings damaged.

2014-04-30 00.24.58

I quickly saw that all the books on the lowest level of my 4 bookshelves were destroyed (as well as my $300 stats textbook for class.) 2014-04-30 00.24.50 My other primary concern was my desktop tower that sits on the floor next to my TV in the living room. It had been sitting in about an inch of water when I got to it. Thankfully it is okay!

Poor Salem was NOT happy. He didn’t want to walk through the water and quickly found higher ground. This was taken a few minutes after I woke up. His expression is just priceless (and clearly demonstrates how we were both feeling.)

2014-04-30 00.38.53-1This photo of my back door was taken right after I woke up, the flooding got substantially worse in the hours that followed.
2014-04-30 00.43.25The first call I made was to Mom, and then I texted my landlord, the maintenance guy, and my landlords brother (all friends of mine.) Within 15 minutes I had three guys at my place helping me try to get the water out and prevent more from coming in.  Before they arrived I went out the back door (thinking the flooding was worse in the front) and walked around the side of my house to get to my car to move it to higher ground. It was pouring and I was wading through water above my knees. My car was about two feet under water and inside was about 2″ of water.

When the guys arrived we sandbagged both doors and started using a shop vac to try to suck up the water. I was on my hands and knees soaking up water with a big towel and ringing it out in a bucket. All this just THREE DAYS after my marathon – just when my  body was starting to feel normal again!

This went on for 3 hours. We had the house totally dry and then the rain picked up and we just sat there and watched it flood again. That was the only point in the night where I almost lost it. The guys and I all tried to keep a positive attitude up and I can’t imagine going through this alone. They left around 4 a.m. when the ‘second flood’ had been cleaned up.
2014-04-30 03.06.45Right after they left guess what happened?

Yep, IT ALL CAME BACK IN. So, I sat on the floor of my office (where it was settling the most) and just use the shop vac over and over. It was so heavy I couldn’t lift it to the sink to empty it so I had to get a pitcher and transfer the water from the vac to the sink. My knee’s hurt as bad as they did after the marathon.

I shared this update on my facebook yesterday afternoon:

I’ve lived in the Florida panhandle most of my life and this is unlike anything I have ever seen. According to one news source, “Five inches of rain fell on Pensacola, Fla., in a single hour, from 9 to 10 p.m. Tuesday — more than during the entirety of Hurricane Ivan.” Locals know how to hunker down for a storm, but this was SO much more than that.

A lot of you have asked if we had any idea it was going to be this bad. Absolutely not! I went to sleep last night and it had been raining for an hour or so but nothing major. When I happened to wake up at 12:30 a.m. there were 2-3″ of water in my house and my car was submerged. Authorities are saying this is the worst flooding Pensacola has seen in 30 years.

I consider myself very lucky that it wasn’t worse. My friends boyfriend dropped her off at her house after dinner and stalled and totaled his car a few miles away from her house. He had to climb through the window to get out because of the water. I used to see stories of people getting stuck in the water like that and think “how could they not know that was going to happen?” but it just came out of nowhere.

As far as I can tell my car upholstery on the floor is ruined (tried to shop vac as much water out as I could), I lost about 50 books, lots of notes/papers for school, Salem’s toy house and his favorite cat nip ‘body pillow’ I got him in Portland, potentially some shoes/clothes (going to see if they will wash/dry back to normal), 4 bookshelves have been destroyed on the bottom, and my TV stand.

Thank goodness I store so much stuff in huge plastic bins and my sofa set had ‘feet’ on them elevating them a few inches! I’m also extremely grateful to have the best landlord and friends ever, who were at my house by 1 a.m. and stayed until 4 helping me try to clear water out and salvage my stuff. Most of the water is gone now, and I’m at that point where I’m so tired I’m delirious but I can’t sleep due to adrenaline. Of course this all happened 3 days after my marathon so I’m more physically exhausted then I’ve ever been in my entire life.

A few hours after things calmed down I grabbed my toolbox from the shelf in the closet and something fell and hit me right in the mouth, knocking loose one of the crowns I just paid off last month. My house is in total disarray still. My car still has water in it.

2014-04-30 08.22.59

2014-04-30 08.21.13One of the few boxes that were cardboard under the bed housed my Sailor Moon collection. Is it weird that I’m 30 and still hold onto these? Fortunately, I think they’ll make it!

2014-04-30 10.04.50-2

As of now my throat hurts, my tooth hurts, my entire body aches, and I’ve been eating nothing but crap food all day. As the adrenaline wears off my nervous system is wigging out. I’ve been crying on and off (and I never cry), I alternate from extremely nauseous to famished, and when I think about all the hours I have to spend tomorrow cleaning up my place (and all the disgusting germs that the water probably brought in) I kinda of want to curl up into a fetal position.

Thank you to everyone who reached out to me on twitter/facebook to check in and send me encouraging words. You have no idea how much it helped.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 You can leave a response, or trackback.

48 Responses

  • Erin M. says:

    Wow. I am so sorry. That is just awful. I don’t really have any words to say except hang in there.

    • Erica House says:

      Thank you! 10 hours of sleep definitely helped, but I have no desire to start cleaning/putting things back. That can wait until tomorrow!

  • Sarah says:

    I am so sorry. What an ordeal!
    Just a thought, you may be able to save some books by freezing them. It sounds crazy, but this is what we always used to do at the library where I work when people would return wet books. We also had a pipe burst over the winter and damage a large section, and they had a company actually come in and box the wet books up to be freeze-dried. It’s not a perfect fix, but it at least prevents the books from getting mildew and mold.
    Again, my heart just goes out to you and I hope it helps a little to know how many people are pulling for you!

    • Erica House says:

      I was just about to ask on twitter how to save wet books! I have them spread out and drying on the floor now. I’ll start putting a few at a time into the freezer. Thank you for the tip (and kind words!)

  • miki says:

    Wow,this is crazy. So sorry it happened to you. Best of luck with the clean up.

  • Lindsay says:

    Aw man! Want a hug? I give good hugs. And they’re free. Well…I don’t charge anyway. WHich reminds me of the song “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard”. Which, it doesn’t. And not just because I’m lactose intolerant. Sorry. Tangent. Where was I? Oh, I was going to offer to cheer you up with chocolate and peanut butter and NetFlix marathons. And of course, we’ll clean up the water and scour to replace all of your books. What do you mean you don’t know me and I sound like a creeper? I read about you every day! :-)

    The crown sucks. You and I have similar teeth issues and I completely get how frustrating and stupid it is that people who don’t brush their teeth more than once a day can have zero cavities, but we who brush/floss/rinse/repeat have shiz luck. Soft teeth…what a bunch of BS. All of it. B-frickin-S. Except the hugs. Those are legit.

    • Erica House says:

      I kind of love you right now.

      I’ll take all the hugs, lactose free milkshakes, and netflix. I did eat 500 calories in chocolate yesterday and it helped. I may go to the store today and ‘splurge’ (since i only have $10 left to spend until Wednesday) on some peanut butter.

      My tooth still feels a bit lose, but I got up this morning and wiggled it around a bit figuring if it came out now at least the dentist would be in to fix it. It’s hanging on and feels semi-secure, so I just can’t stress about it. If it falls out while I’m making out with some hot guy – so be it. I just hope I don’t swallow it so I can get it put back without to much expense.

  • CarlaBe45 says:

    Im so so so so sorry too.
    saw on the book of the face and was thinking about you last night.
    the child and I said a prayer for you before bed……
    here’s to better days.

    • Erica House says:

      Thank you <3 I woke up today planning to spend the day cleaning/organizing but I just can't find the energy. I want to help others who have been hit much worse. Going to try to see what recovery efforts are going on in town.

  • Danielle says:

    Oh wow! I’m so sorry to hear this. I hope you’re able to save some of your things!
    Thankfully we’re on the third floor, but we definitely had a new river beside our apartment. It was at least a foot deep. That storm was insane! We took our terrified cats into the bathroom during the tornado warning (not sure if Pensacola was part of that). Anyway, I hope we don’t have anything like that again soon.

    • Erica House says:

      We may have had some Tornado warnings but we were so busy working to get water out we didn’t even notice. 4 people in my house with rain pouring and thunder going on and I didn’t stop for more than a minute in hours. I checked my phone once or twice to see the radar map but that was about it!

  • You poor thing!!! I bet starting a fundraiser on your fbook and blog would help you and some other who were affected out. I know for sure I would donate!!! This is such terrible timing considering your last post. Stay strong and thank goodness you’re okay!!!!

    • Erica House says:

      After the Pensacola jail exploded last night I’m pretty sure we are going to be declared a disaster zone. I’m hoping they might make money available to those who need it. I’m waiting to hear back if my car insurance will cover anything now.

  • Jodi says:

    Oh I am just so so sorry you are going through all of this. :( I am so glad you had some people to come help out for some of the time. I’d be a wreck. But I guess you just have to spring into action and break down later. *hugs*

  • Oh my gosh, Erica, this is terrible! I wish I lived closer so I could offer to help clean up. Our house is in a really low-lying area, so every spring we get terrible small-lake-size flooding in our backyard that creeps toward our basement (and once, it did). It’s terrifying. I really hope this was just a one-time thing for you and that things get back to normal quickly. That’s a lot to have to deal with in one week. Sending prayers to you and everyone else affected by these crazy storms.

  • Jenny says:

    Love ya girl. Wish I lived closer! I would totally help out! xoxo

  • Annie says:

    WOW. I am incredibly sorry you are going through this. I am glad you have such good friends nearby to help as much as they can in salvaging your things and making your apartment livable at best.

    And poor, stressed-out Salem! My heart broke for your kitty. He looked like he was saying “MOOOOOM!” in the picture of him on your desk.

    I hope things can settle down in these next couple of days for you, especially with your marathon in the horizon.

  • Hi Erica, considering I see you as my virtual friend I am truly sorry this is all going on. I cant even imagine the headache. Something I was to point out is that your post still comes across as optimistic as if “yeah this shit sucks but such is life”. Ups and downs are inevitable. Just think of this as something that will propel amazing things ahead :)

    • Erica House says:

      I always try to stay optimistic because I know 99% of the time it could be much worse! I can’t lie and say I didn’t have my mini-breakdowns over the last 24 hours, but for the most part I’m just so appreciative of friends being around to help out and make me laugh :)

  • I am so so sorry! I can’t even imagine going through this!

  • Alma says:

    :( About all of it. I was going to suggest the freezer thing for the books. I’ve had that work before as well. I put paper towels in between the pages to help suck things up, too. As for the car, I’m thinking the shop vac is the way to go. I think there’s a way to remove the carpeting and let it sun dry. But you should also be able to leave the doors open and get air circulating that way, if you disconnect the battery somehow. The key is to try to avoid mildew. Leaving the windows down should help with that. You might try some sort of moisture absorber, too. If you can afford it, I’d try an auto detail shop and see if they can steam clean it to get all the yuck out.

    Hope things get better!

    • Erica House says:

      When I mentioned my Mom the idea of putting the books in the freezer she asked if the pages would freeze – I guess they don’t?

      I’m waiting to hear back from car insurance people now! I figured I should find out if they may cover anything before I keep putting time/energy into it.

  • I am so sorry :( I can’t imagine waking up to that and having to deal with it all. HUGS!!!

  • Erin says:

    Erica, I’m so sorry!! I love your blog and you’re so inspiring to me. I hope you have a much better day today.

  • So so sorry Erica! This storm was crazy!

  • Nicole says:

    I hope things get back to normal soon. That’s alot to deal with. *wishes you strength*

    That happened to my mom too (in Tampa) it started raining so quickly while she was driving her car got flooded.

  • Caroline says:

    Oh man- this is really a tough situation to deal with, and like I said yesterday- I’m so sorry for you :( I hope you’re able to salvage as much as possible and that freezing helps with the books. Wishing you strength from here!

  • I’m sorry this happened to you. My parents house flooded here in Austin on Halloween night. It flooded 5 1/2 feet. and they lost everything inside. It’s one of the worst feelings to lose your things, especially pictures. I’m hoping your community pulls together to help people out like the community did for my parents.

  • I’m so sorry to hear this! How overwhelming and what a pain in the ass. Once you get things situated, see if your dentist can do something since you just got it done!

  • Krista says:

    OMG!!! I’m so sorry all this happened to you!! I can’t even imagine how scary & stressful it was/is. :( Geez, had it been only a few days earlier, you would have unknowingly come home to that. Hugs to you and sweet Salem!!!!

  • Michele says:

    I was thinking about you when I kept hearing Pensacola on the news. How awful! I can’t imagine waking up to that in the middle of the night. I hope that you can salvage as much of your stuff as possible. Sending positive thoughts your way!
    PS – You’ve convinced me to buy flood insurance!

  • tara says:

    I’m so sorry to haer this. Ive never experienced anything like that kind of flooding. And I’m with you…I’ve always wondered how people get stuck in cars etc, but i didnt realize it could happen so fast. I know its not something you want to hear of course, but at least you and salem are ok. Things can be replaced, blah blah, blah. But i suppose its true. Maybe take a few minutes to breathe and if people offer you help – take it ! Hopefully you live in a community where people will come together and pitch in. Makes me think twice about buying flood insurance !

  • I am so sorry and I am so glad you and Salem are okay.
    I…honestly have a hard time processing this as my city suffered an awful flood less than a year ago and it hits so close to home.
    I’m sending you and Salem love and support. <3

  • Ali says:

    Oh man, my heart goes out to you and poor Salem. What a mess to have to deal with when you are trying to recover and relax, not to mention the damage to your irreplaceable books and potentially other items. Boo to flooding! Why do bad things happen to good people?

    I hope that you find the energy to sort through it all and get back on your feet again so you can feel comfortable in your home (and car!). Having to clean that shiz up three times is no joke. For real, you are a serious trooper. I’d have been tempted to throw in the towel at that point. Though I know in reality that all one can do is try to make the best of it. It’s truly unbelievable how destructive water can be but I hope that somehow it all ends up being much better than it at first appears. <3

  • I already commented on IG when you originally posted about this. It’s just so terrible! I really feel for you! And then that happening to your tooth too?? Wow! I hope things are getting at least a little bit better for you. ((((hugs))))

    • Erica House says:

      Thank you! Unfortunately my gums started hurting the other day pretty bad. It was similar to the pain I felt before my last emergency root canal so I’m keeping my fingers crossed it doesn’t end the same way!

Leave a Reply