Friday, August 26, 2016

Denham Springs: Howard and Dee

This is Howard and his wife Dee. Howard is a retired builder, who loves to paint. He and his wife moved to Denham Springs from Baton Rouge after their 3 children grew up and moved out. He built this house himself.  His wife Dee always dreamed about having hardwood floors and a microwave- and Howard was finally able to give her the house of her dreams. Dee loves to cross stitch and Howard loves tending to his 13 chickens. 

On Saturday morning, August 13th, Howard's sister in law, who lives a few blocks away, called him. It had been raining for 2 days straight. She said she fell and hurt her knee, and that the water was coming up into her home. Howard left his home in his truck to drive to go get her- but couldn't get there because the road was blocked with rushing water. He returned home and he and Dee frantically tried to put everything up higher in the house. Howard kept watching the water rise out his kitchen window. "We gotta go!". He told his wife. So the two of them rushed to the front door. When Howard tried to open the door he couldn't- there was two feet of water pushing in on the other side. He told his wife she would have to help him push with everything they had. They did- and once the door finally opened the rush of water almost knocked them both over. Howard helped his wife to their truck- water rushed into the bottom of the cab as they opened the door. They prayed it would still start- and it did. They drove out down their street to try to get to the highway- but someone stopped them in the middle of the road telling them they would get washed away if they kept driving. So, Howard turned around. As soon as they pulled into their driveway the truck stalled and would no longer run. 

Howard had a boat on a trailer in his yard- but he couldn't pull the starter on it. He struggled to get it off the trailer. Just then two boys walked by his driveway in waist high water, towing another fishing boat, full of people, with no motor on it. 
The boys assisted Howard in getting his boat off the trailer, getting him and Dee into the boat, and pulling the starter. They then towed the second boat towards higher ground. They had to go a mile and a half against the current to try to get to a bank that was acting as a rescue point. O their way they saw a man who was loosing his swim against the current. He was too out of reach for them to grab him in time. After a while they finally made it to the bank. When they got there Howard saw many people- including his sister in law! She had been rescued by another man in a boat. 
Also at the bank- Howard saw a man weeping. He asked him what was wrong. The man told him that his 14 year old son was stranded on the highway by himself and he had no way to get to him. "Here- take my boat. Go and get your son. When you are finished with it, tie it up in this post." 

Howard and Dee spent a night at a shelter, a night at another woman's house, and then we're finally able to return home to see their house- and they spent the night in the truck. The water reached a height of about 6 feet in his home. 

(Notice the waterline in the drywall)

Since then, Howard has been sleeping in what he calls his "Taj Mahal", a tent he set up behind his house by his old, now empty, chicken coop. His wife see, after spending a few days in the hospital from dehydration and stress, is staying at their daughters home. 

Howard has been cleaning and gutting his house mostly alone for the past week.  When we got there all but the bathrooms, laundry room and two closets had been emptied. Two of the rooms were down to the studs and most of the flooring had been removed. 

I the kitchen, Howard needed help removing the counters, cabinets, and gutting. 

The living room needed the tv and fireplace removed, and then the drywall taken down. 

The bathrooms needed to be emptied, and gutted. 

We loved talking with Dee and working alongside Howard. They were such loving, happy people. They were discouraged about their loss, but hopeful about the future they still had together. 

Howard's boat was tied up just where he hoped it would be. 


  1. So great that your group's time and energy were used to help someone directly - blessing for Howard and his wife and blessing for you as well.