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Starting over ... again

By Sheryl Camber

After living in a double-wide trailer in Cestohowa for 13 years, my husband and I, together with our 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son, decided it was time to either build a home or remodel the home he grew up in. We chose to remodel, as the house was so much roomier than we could have afforded to build from scratch and felt it had great poten-tial.

We started remodeling in February 1998. The remodeling included replacing all the windows, rocking the exterior, adding a second floor, replacing all the wiring, adding central air and heat, tearing out and replacing all the Sheetrock, cabinets, and flooring. Yes, to put it mildly, it was one major job! After getting all new appliances delivered, we moved into our new home in June 1998. We were very proud of what we accomplished and the house turned out exactly the way we had envisioned.

Four short months later, the unbelievable happened. Four feet of water came through our home on the evening of Oct. 18, 1998. We had our annual turkey dinner in Cestohowa that Sunday afternoon and we had no idea what was coming. Later that evening, very good friends and family came to help us move some furniture upstairs while the whole time we were believing it was all for nothing. We put things on top of the kitchen counters, the piano on cement blocks, figuring if we did get water in the house, it might be a couple of inches. We never thought about the washer, dryer, stove, or the freezer we had just filled the week before.

Can you imagine our shock, after the water finally went down, walking through our house to find 3 inches of mud everywhere, the brand-new freezer turned on its back, antique furniture upside down and in pieces, a basement still full of murky river water, and mud and water in the kitchen drawers? And the whole time thinking, we’ve only been here for four months! Unbelievable, but yet here it was right before our eyes.

Without our family, friends, and co-workers, we would have been completely lost. The outpouring of support, both financially but more importantly emotionally, was completely overwhelming. Everywhere we looked people were literally washing out our house with water hoses and squeegees, carrying out the ruined food and possessions destroyed by the water. We called no one, they just came bringing their trucks and trailers and strong backs. It was one of the most humbling experiences for us as we are both givers not takers by nature. We had to accept the fact that these wonderful people were there for us when we needed them most.

After the flood we learned, much to our dismay, that Karnes County had chosen not to participate in the all-important National Flood Program when it was offered back in 1977. All surrounding counties had joined. We did not have flood insurance and without the county belonging to this program, could not purchase any. We, together with our three neighbors who also suffered the flood, had to attend commissioners’ court meetings from November through February before the necessary documents were signed. Our hats are off to the Wilson County News’s accurate job of covering the story.

And so a year has now passed, and we are once again settled in our home. It’s an experience we surely never want to live through again and I would be lying if I said I don’t cringe when I now hear the special weather bulletin alerts. In fact, just this past June, Cestohowa had over 16 inches of rain! We simply have learned to put our trust in the Lord and to hope for the best.

Click on the following links below to read the corresponding stories
Elaine Kolodziej Sheryl Camber Florence and Robert Higgins
Fabian and Lorraine Lyssy Tambria L. H. Read Margie Keutz
Jerry (Mrs. Johnny) Kypfer Marty Kufus Vicki Poore
Amanda Lewanski Marianne Hall-Little