We first met the Baynes over a decade ago. It didn’t take long to become good friends, and we’re blessed to still consider them our best. Their friendship, generosity, and humor have never wavered. If you ask them how they are doing they will talk about how blessed they are to have such wonderful and supportive friends, family, and neighbors. They’re true optimists and their wonderful attitude has seen them through some tough times with impressive grace.
But, the reality is that this year has presented them with unprecedented struggles and losses, some private and some in plain view. The year started with a devastating car accident that had unexpected consequences that changed the makeup of their family. This is the private stuff that is too difficult for them to talk about.
Then, only a few months later, Karen broke her ankle badly in three places and had to have surgery (on her good leg). She continues to use crutches and a knee rover to get around. As if this wasn’t bad enough, they lost two of their beloved pets within weeks of each other.
At this point they thought the worst was behind them…and then Hurricane Harvey hit. Their neighborhood already experienced a 500 year flood in 2016 that surrounded everyone and caused a long power outage, but did not get into houses. Once the rain stopped, they opened their backyard to the neighborhood children to swim, fired up the grill, and opened their bar to the adults. At the time, the flood seemed like a mere inconvenience and turned out to be a great way to get to know the neighbors.
However, in late August when Hurricane Harvey dumped 53” of water on their neighborhood, there wasn’t any swimming or grilling. This time around they watched in horror as the waters rapidly rose and flooded their front yard, back yard, and the first floor of their house. They worked frantically to get their family, including Karen’s elderly father (evacuated from his assisted living facility), two daughters, and six pets upstairs to safety.
Although they managed to save some of their furniture by placing it on bricks, the three inches of water destroyed their first floor. Remember, this happened while Karen was on crutches and her father could barely move around on a walker. They intended to ride it out upstairs, but when the power went out they had no choice but to evacuate the entire family by boat.
Once power was restored they returned to their second floor to start demolition on their house and to find temporary housing. Unfortunately, nothing was available that could accommodate five people and the family pets. Additionally, Karen’s father became extremely ill from all of the moving and the inability to get to his doctor for needed medication, so they stayed in place while gutting of the house began.
It took six days to remove all of the water damaged carpet, baseboards, hardwood flooring, drywall, and insulation from the house. Fortunately, many of their friends and neighbors helped get most of the demolition done, but the pool that used to host many gatherings now sits full of flood waters awaiting draining and repair.
Now, without flood insurance because they weren’t in the traditional flood plain, the Baynes are realizing just what they are up against. The damage is extreme and they are not able to fund the restoration of their dream home. They have applied for assistance from FEMA and many other sources, but so far they have had very little success raising a fraction of what will be required to rebuild.
The Baynes have always helped others in need, both financially and emotionally. We’re asking that if you have the means, and are not affected by Hurricane Harvey yourself, please help alleviate some of their overwhelming emotional stress and financial strain.
- Brittany Walters
- Steven Stroschein
- Lori Nahrwold
- Kevin Rust
- Patrick Thiele
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