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AMR Studio: My Hurricane Harvey Story

Nearly three months ago, my wife and I were forced out of Houston due to Hurricane Harvey. This is my story.

On Thursday August 24, 2017, I was very busy with my Facebook scrolling routine when I came across a post about a category two hurricane in the gulf coast. It peaked my interest and I started google searching for more information. The more I read the more I realized this storm was going to be devastating.

My wife and I were already on edge anytime it rained as we experienced flooding in our home the previous year. In 2016, we lost nearly everything. We lost our home, our business, and belongings. So as you can imagine, with every report on the coming hurricane, we became paranoid.

I spent the entire day researching the hurricane, which is perfectly justified as I had just finished my last mix and master for the amazing metal band Apothica the day before! When my wife arrived home, although she was hesitant at first, I convinced her we needed to evacuate Houston and spend the weekend in Dallas. Once the storm would pass we would come home and assess the damage. So without hesitation, we packed our bags, and I picked everything I could off the floor and stacked things on countertops, beds, tables, and closet shelves around the house and the studio. After I picked everything up I packed up my truck and prepared for our morning journey. We lost both of our vehicles in the previous year's flood so we decided to park my wife's car in her employers parking garage. We weren't taking any chances!

First thing Friday morning we left for Dallas with each other, some clothes, and our two pups. I expected heavy traffic and was amazed that it was very light. It seemed as if we were the only ones crazy enough to leave Houston. I forgot to mention, my wife was 32 weeks pregnant, which happened to be the leading factor in our evacuation. I wasn't about to carry my pregnant wife up a ladder plus two dogs in case of another flood.

Once we arrived in Dallas we pulled up to our weekend destination. The La Quinta Hotel. We arrived early and we ended up just hanging out in the truck for a couple hours before they had our room ready. Once we go into our hotel we just chilled the rest of the day while the storm grew. We met others who had evacuated from areas further south such as Corpus Christi.

As the weekend progressed, Facebook posts progressed from jokingly discussing the hurricane, to a much more serious nature (this is where I got a majority of my updates until downloading the app Nextdoor). Friends were experiencing tornadoes, as well as watching water levels rise. It was utter chaos! It broke my heart having experienced similar things the year before. Evacuating, and watching the turmoil unfold from afar was stressful, however, it would have been even more stressful and frightening if we had chosen to stay. Evacuating is probably the second greatest decision I ever made, the first being, convincing my wife to marry me.

By Sunday evening, according to our lovely neighbor across the street, we hadn't received any flood damage yet. This was exciting news as we expected the worse. My wife and I had been watching the local news station on our laptop to stay updated with the weather in Houston. It was then when the HCFCD held a press conference in which they forwarned residents west of the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs to expect flooding. On live TV, they pointed to our exact neighborhood. That moment was devastating. It was then we knew our home was gone.

I told my wife our only option with her being 32 weeks pregnant was for us to drive back to our hometown in Kansas and stay with her parents till our son was born. Last year we had two feet of water in our home and it took nearly 6 months for us to be completely remodeled. We lived in a camper parked in our driveway for months while I worked on the repairs. I didn't even want to try living like that again with a pregnant wife.

As you can imagine, our stress levels were at an all time high that night. It took us several hours to finally come to grips with the possibility that we were homeless once more, we fell asleep in the early hours of the morning. When we finally woke up, we called our neighbor to check on her. To our amazement, our home had maybe one inch of water and had receded. This was exciting. Once inch of damage is easily fixed. We wouldn't be homeless! However, the cynic in me kept telling me it wasn't over. The rain hadn't stopped drenching Houston yet and was projected to continue another few days. According to the HCFCD, our neighborhood and many others were still being told to evacuate and had until 7pm Monday before it was unsafe. My wife was still not convinced to depart just yet and flee to Kansas. I mean, who would? Kansas isn't that cool. It's a cool place to be from. It's bragging rights. Anytime you accomplish some form of success and say "I'm from Kansas" everyone knows it takes ample amounts of fortitude because, well you're from Kansas.

If memory serves me right, we heard back from our neighbor late morning, maybe around 11am, and she said, "It's over, the water is in the house. I'm sorry guys, the water came so fast. They rescued us by boats."

Without hesitation, I packed up our bags, the dogs, and we checked out of the hotel and began our trip to Kansas. It was then I equated myself with Noah which as some of you may have seen on one of my lighthearted Facebook posts posted the day after we arrived in Kansas.

Family is important and my in-laws have been amazing through all of this. I mean, they're housing flood victims rent free! We couldn't be more blessed. Anyway, back to the story. We arrived in Kansas and are now living with the in-laws. Ten days passed before the water receded out of the house! Once information was confirmed I borrowed a trailer from Shields Motor and got my older brother and my father to volunteer to help me salvage what we could and throw out the rest along with the demolition process. Flood damage is nasty.

We drove the 12 hours to Houston and my wife booked us the only motel left within tolerable distance from the house. Long story short, we threw out most of our belongings. Everything we salvaged fit into a 6'x9' trailer from a 1800sqft house! This is where the blessings really shined. We had so many people come and help during this process. I had expected making several trips back and forth from Kansas to Houston before completing the mold removal process. The Woodlands United Methodist Church sent two teams of volunteers to help tare out sheetrock and cabinets! Between all my friends that came out, my father and brother, and the church, we knocked everything out in 4 days! That's impressive! From our previous flood experience, it took us nearly two weeks to complete that process. I even met with both my studio insurance adjuster and flood insurance adjuster in the same weekend.

To move things along, I know you're wondering about the studio equipment. Did we salvage anything? The answer is yes! My dad and I have successfully saved most of my equipment. I've only lost a total of 8 microphones, and a few very expensive rack units. Other than that, we saved a lot. Check out the studio Instagram and FB pages for pictures.

The most important thing in this journey was and will always be our son Julian. He is the reason why we fled Houston and are now living like couch potato bums on my father-in-laws divan. Our son was born on Oct. 24, 2017 at 7:45am! Two months after our flood journey began. What a better way to put it behind us than the joy of being new parents (if you exclude fur-babies)! Julian is super cute and extremely lovable. See the picture below and experience the cuteness!

As far as the studio goes I've been budgeting new gear and a complete studio build out. We plan on relocating to the Tulsa, OK area to be closer to family so Julian can have strong relationships with his cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. We have a few more steps left before we can begin the rebuilding process, nevertheless, AMR Studio will be bigger, better, and even stronger than ever. Be sure to follow me on FB or Instagram (I'm not too fond of twitter for no particular reason) for studio updates. I hope this blog gives you a little insight into what our story has been thus far since Hurricane Harvey.

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