Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hoping the Storm is Over...

Some of you know our recent story, but some of you have not heard what has been going on in our home. We were one of the crazy ones who decided to wait out the storm. We had all the emergency supplies we thought we would need and decided to hunker down in the family room on the main floor and wait out IKE. It was a long, scary, dark night with strong loud winds and heavy rain. The front of the hurricane hit around 1:00 am. We slept off and on for a couple of hours however the sleep conditions were not the best. I could hear pieces of tree hitting our windows. Sleeping was a thing of the past once a large 70 foot tree from the other side of our fence came crashing down on our home at 4:00 am. It was terrifying and heart-wrenching. We continued to listen to the radio in the dark waiting for advice from the city. It seemed like hours before dawn began to break and it was surreal. The tail end of the hurricane left devastation to our beautiful city. Homes had trees on them, through them, and in them. Yards were flooded and left with debris. There was no power, for days we heard nothing but sirens and chainsaws. Only hours after Ike past, we had a knock at our door and there were 15 ward members. They helped cut down one of the two trees pressed against our home and began the demolition of my sweet baby nursery. The tree had punctured the roof through the ceiling and into her room. They ripped out sheet rock, insulation, and carpet. They then formed a funnel system to catch the still heavy rain fall. We spent that first afternoon together with friends and neighbors trying to provide comfort for one another. Cell phone use was hit and miss and we shortly found out that our neighborhoods phone lines still worked as long and you used an old phone (not cordless). I found one in an emergency box and had instant contact with our family in Utah. We also found out we were the only one that had a working phone line for miles and miles. Our home became very busy since that good news traveled fast. We had people we had never met using our land line. It 's amazing how a catastrophe can bring a community together!
The nights were long and hot following Ike. Food became scarce and water was questionable. After three days and all the food in the freezer and fridge had spoiled, we decided to get out of town. We were one of the few that had the gas to do so. Most people were stranded since gas stations had run out of fuel two days before the storm. The airport closest to us was closed so we packed a few bags and drove to Austin. We spent the night at my hubby's cousins home and then the girls and I flew to Las Vegas. Daddy stayed to protect the home and help with church projects. It was awful leaving him in those conditions. We were without power for two full weeks. He was left hot, hungry, and extremely lonely. He kept reminding me that we could not stay. He said it was unbearable.
We arrived home15 days after IKE and we are still in shock from the damage. Mother nature displayed its unforgiving power on Texas. We still had a hole on our roof and contractors were booked out for months. It felt as though things could not get any worse, but the storm was not over at the Richards home...
We arrived home Wednesday evening from Las Vegas and things felt like they were getting somewhat back to normal. I decided to get out our Halloween decorations on Monday. Christian was at work and I decided to make a nice family dinner. I watched Take Home Chef on TLC and saw a fabulous recipe for orange chicken and fried rice. It looked easy enough so I called and asked C to grab a few things on his way home. I started the rice, chopped some veggies and called again to ask if he was on his way. I then started the oil. The girls kept playing by the stove to I became distracted with keeping them out of the kitchen. When I returned I heard a swoosh sound and felt heat. The oil was in flames. I quickly turned off the burner, but the flames became so high so fast that it was melting the microwave. I grabbed the girls and opened the back door and told them to stay outside because there was a fire in the kitchen. After only a few seconds outside I returned to the kitchen with the microwave no longer there. I grabbed some baking soda and sprinkled some in the pot and the fire did not seem to budge. I had a very naive/amateur cook reaction and tried to move it to the sink which is in our island. DO NOT EVER MOVE BURNING OIL!!! The flames began to jump at me and I moved back and some splashed on our hard wood floors. I then heard screams behind me and realized the girls had come back into the kitchen. K bugs was screaming, "your hand". I then realized my right had was in flames. I luckily still had the oven mit on and threw it on our granite, grabbed both girls and ran outside screaming FIRE! Someone from the park came running over and I ran back inside to get my phone. My cabinets above the stove were now in flames. The fire department was there in record time, since the station is only a couple of miles away. The entire neighborhood was in my yard. I was horrified. The damage was contained to the kitchen, thank goodness, but the damage from the smoke and melted plastic microwave was horrendous. We were told to take nothing and find somewhere to stay for a while. The insurance company was unable to put us up in a hotel since all were full for 50 miles from IKE.
Our sweet friends down the road took us in, yet somehow the storm shockingly continued. The next morning we awoke to a typical rain storm. This was the first rain since the hurricane so C decided to run home to check on things. He left around 6:30 am. I got up and sent Ky off to school with her friend we are staying with. Moments after they left I heard someone come in the garage door of our friends. It was my husband. He was fire truck red. He looked at me and said, "I think something bit me". I instantly rummaged through my friends cupboards searching for Benadryl. I found nothing and made him lay down. I jumped in the car and drove to another friends up the street. I ran back with only children's Benadryl. Our other friend followed me in with an Epinephrine shot. In those few minutes that I was gone, he had the worst case of hives I have ever seen. It looked like blisters covered his body. His ears were so swollen he could no longer hear what we were saying. I called my mom in a panic and she said to take him to the hospital, but not to give him the Epi shot unless he stopped breathing. I decided I was not in the right state of mind to stab my husband in a moving vehicle. We rushed him to the car and drove to our trusted fire station. We walked in, and one of the firemen from the day before, told him to get in the ambulance. His blood pressure immediately dropped and so did his oxygen level. It took about twenty minutes to stabilize him. They treated him in the ER for an allergic reaction and overloaded him with more Benadryl. Our prayers were answered and he was released later that evening with another bad memory!
It is now Sunday evening and we are packing up and returning home. No, we do not have clothes to wear, a kitchen to cook in, or any electronics, but we have each other. My family is alive and well and even though we hope this crazy storm in our lives is now over, we know now that we truly can get through anything as a family. Thanks you all for your love support and prayers! We love you all and we will keep you updated on the restoration project!!!

The Richards Family
(Richards Reality continued...)