Home of Heather & Dave

January 25, 2009

Your help is needed on January 31
(and possibly February 1)
to PAINT at Bowling Street.
Many hands make less work!!

Please call or email one of us if you can stop over.
Heather (573-5751)  heather_atwater@hotmail.com
Dave     (431-5874)  danUUc@danUUc.com

The last few months have been intense as we've been working
hard to return home so we haven't had much of an opportunity
to get an update posted.  We never thought this day would ever
come but this will likely be our last update before we move back!
We plan to move by the end of February!
It will be so good to be home again!!

So here's what's been happening at the house.
Our upstairs bathroom and master bedroom closet addition was
completed the week of Thanksgiving.  We are grateful to Heather's
brother who was able to break away from the farm, his construction
business, and his family to get this accomplished.  It has made
a huge difference in terms of the real estate upstairs since
another room was essentially added.  It's amazing what can be done
in 3 days!!  Thanks to those who were there to brave being up
on the roof to help!

We hired someone to reinforce our front porch as that had
started pulling away from the house following the flood.  He
finished this in early December and also installed our new front
door on December 10.  We would always comment when one
of our neighbors would get their front door put in, and now it
was finally our turn.  We are very happy with the way it turned

Much of the month of December was spent prioritizing and
coordinating tasks in order to stay on schedule.  All electrical
had to be run and framing had to be done before insulation.
This included reinforcing the main floor ceilings.  The electrical
was done on December 18.  Bear in mind there was no heat in
the house (except for a kerosene heater).  Since there was no
insulation yet, we certainly weren't going to turn on the
heat to have it all escape into the neighborhood so dressing in
many layers was a necessity!  On the 19th of December,
the city inspector came and gave the thumbs up for electrical
and framing so insulation and drywall could commence (in that
order)!!  We had the foam insulation sprayed in on December 23
which was quite a process to watch.  It essentially fills in all
nooks and crannies and makes it very efficient.  The difference
was quite noticeable and the heat hadn't even been started yet!

We officially activated the heat on Christmas Eve.  What a great
feeling that was!  Drywall was started on December 29.  We had
a great crew of friends and family who helped.  Even one of our
groomsman who is from Florida was here the week after Christmas!
We don't think it was very easy for him to leave that nice,
warm weather!

The drywall took a few weeks to fully complete (lots of angles
and cuts to make) but once it was hung, we had professionals
spend a week doing the messy work: mudding, taping and texturing.
This was all done by January 19.  It was finally beginning to seem
more like a home again.

Throughout part of December and early January, the contractor
for our plumbing was also hard at work.  The plumbing is about
90% installed.  We even got a bathtub purchased on December
31 as we needed to get that large item in before too many walls
were in place.  The upstairs bathroom will just be a shower that
we're planning to tile ourselves later.  We only need one functional
bathroom to move in though, so that's what we're focusing on
finishing.  Right now, we do have running water but only in the
bathtub as there are no sinks installed at this time.  It will also
be nice to get a toilet soon so we don't have to keep running 3
blocks to Hy-Vee just to use the facilities!!

This past weekend (January 24-25), we completed priming the
entire house and got the ceilings painted white as well.
Unfortunately, our paint sprayer (the one we bought to spray on
KILZ after the flood clean-up) decided to stop working so we ended
up renting a machine so we wouldn't lose a weekend of work time.
Hopefully, everything is drying nicely and we'll be ready for the fun
(colored) painting next weekend!

We have also been working with Jumpstart, which we mentioned
previously, is a state program designed to help individuals with
rebuild (or also mortgage assistance if people are not returning
to their house). The funding comes in the form of a forgivable
loan which does not have to be repaid as long as we remain in
the house for 10 years.  The name of the program describes their
efforts best as their intent is to help as many as possible with
unmet needs to get people back on their feet again. 
We have been blessed by their help so far!

The house won't be completely done by the time we move but in
order to gain occupancy by the end of next month, there are a
few things we'll need to have done to meet city code like 1
functional bathroom, water to more than just the bathtub,
electrical completed (outlet covers and switch plates installed),
fire alarms in, and the steps to the 2nd floor solidified with a

With the changes we've made, it's a whole different house now. 
It's sometimes hard to remember the way it was before!  Moving
home again will be absolutely amazing and will take a little getting
used to. We don't think it will take long to start to get settled
again though.  The running joke is that after all our hard work
and efforts, we will just want to sit at the house and ENJOY! 
We just might do that so if we "hibernate" and you don't
see much of us until spring, you'll know why!!

We appreciate your continued support and
positive thoughts...HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!

Heather & Dave

P.S.  Check out all the new pictures we've posted as well!

November 20, 2008

More rebuilding has taken place since our last update over a month ago.  All the windows in the house have been installed (there were 12).  This happened on October 11 and 25.  The old windows had the archaic counter-weights; however, most of the weights were broken and the windows had to be propped up in order to stay open.  Plus the windows leaked cold air quite excessively during the winter months.

Replacing the windows is something we had planned to do in the next couple years but since the house has been gutted, it was prime time to get this completed.  We initially removed the lower portion of the siding to get rid of moldy areas, but ended up removing all the siding for ease of window replacement.  So right now, the house is wrapped in Tyvek.  Some framing also had to be done on some of the window openings.  We were very thankful to have assistance from church volunteers to get the windows done!  They have truly been angels in our midst.

The biggest news is that our furnace was installed on October 22 and 23!!!  It's not turned on yet (since there's no insulation yet), but it's in place and 85% of the ductwork is finished.  This is definitely a step in the right direction with colder weather right around the corner.

In the last month, we also completed our stairs going to the 2nd story.  The first couple steps were affected by flood water, and the stairs were no longer up to code anyway and needed to be replaced. It's an expense we weren't anticipating, but unfortunately, city code wins over replacement cost!  While we're at it, we'll be able to revise the head room so Dave doesn't have to duck as much when using the stairs!!!  This past Friday, a city inspector came to the house and gave us an initial "thumbs up" on the work we've done so far, including the stairs!

We are currently in the process of working out our electrical plan for the house.  You may remember Dave passing his homeowner's electrical test back in September.  We still have to submit a plan to the city (yes, more paperwork).  The first floor is basically mapped out and the 2nd floor will follow since the stairs to the 2nd level are now in place.

Additionally, we are working on the planning of our upstairs bathroom addition.  Heather's brother, Travis, does construction work and is planning to work on this for us (this weekend)!  He's also a farmer, so right now, he's trying to finish up the harvest among other tasks. We're glad to get on his schedule this time of year!!  Hopefully, the weather cooperates long enough for him to get everything done and still be able to work on our house before too much snow flies!

Our FEMA appeal was processed by the end of October.  We did receive a small amount of additional government grant funding but nowhere near what we were expecting or hoping.  At least they did provide us with a little bit more home repair assistance.  We're also working with the Jumpstart program which is administered by the state of Iowa.  The program entails a 10-year forgivable loan, so we would have to stay in the house for 10 years and none of the loan would need to be paid back.  If we do move prior to that, we would have to pay back whatever is remaining.  At this point with the changes we're making, we hope to stay a while!!!  A home inspector came to the house on October 21 to assess the damages and provide a recommendation to be used as a ba sis for funding allocation.  We met with Jumpstart representatives on Friday of last week and found out what we're eligible to receive some funding, which was verypromising!  With this state program, there is also potential to receive some assistance to purchase energy efficient appliances.  This state assistance is available on a first come, first serve basis so when the funding is gone, it's gone. 

As of Tuesday, November 4, our curb is now free of debris once again!  We had wood and siding debris out for pick-up for almost a month, and the city made its way around again.  We've completely lost count as to how many trips have been made to the curb.  Thankfully, they're still picking up at no additional cost to us.
So things are starting to look like a house again!  We still have a long way to go, but we're using this crisis as an opportunity to make some positive changes to the house.  We don't have a definite move-in date yet, but our lease ends at the end of February.  We hope to move before then though.  We're so ready for a vacation after putting in so many man hours but once we do move back in, we'll probably just want to stay at home and enjoy the fruits of our labor!!

The flood waters washed away much of our physical property, but our spirits are not eroded!  It always seems like people are at their best when things are at their worst.  There is presently a billboard displayed near downtown Cedar Rapids which reads: "Below this sign a great city is rebuilding."  Amen to that. 

Enough said!

September 28, 2008

Help needed the following 2 weekends for:
October 4/5 - Siding tear off (partial)
October 11/12 - Window installation
Please let us know if you're available (heather_atwater@hotmail.com or danUUc@danUUc.com).

Just a quick update....Last Saturday (September 20), most of the subfloor was installed.  Dave and a few friends also worked this past Tuesday during the day to continue the subfloor install.  The beam to support the house was also put in last Saturday.  Fortunately, the lumber company was able to deliver this and we didn't have to worry about finding a way to have it hauled to the house.  We've opened up a lot of space of space on the first floor and walls are starting to take shape.  We're having some difficulty finding and securing a contractor to work on our upstairs bathroom addition.  Our HVAC is set to be put in on October 21 (YAY!!) before the really cold weather hits.  With any luck and by God's grace, the addition will hopefully be done by then.

Dave has marching band photo shoots over the next 3 Saturdays.  These were scheduled and committed to long before the flood, but we can accomplish some of these tasks in his absence.

Let us know if you can help out over the next couple weekends.  THANKS!!

September 14, 2008

Things have been a little hectic lately, and we haven't had an opportunity to update the site for almost a month now.  So here's what's been happening on Bowling Street....

On Saturday, August 23, we had yet another amazing crew of volunteers to help with the gutting of the 2nd floor.  With the unsafe insulation (some of it contained asbestos) and the floor plan changes we're planning to make, it made the most sense to tear out of the 2nd level.  We really hate to keep tearing down when all we want to do is commence the rebuild!  Hopefully this will happen in the next week or two.

Being the resourceful person he is, Dave came up with a plan to remove the debris from the 2nd story and get it to the street quickly.  We built a chute (made of a 12' by 24' tarp) that spanned from the 2nd floor window down to the curb.  It looked a lot like a waterslide, but it worked great and eliminated a lot of hauling down the stairs.  It sped up the process and got the job done quickly.  We even had a few passers-by take pictures of the sight!  Thanks to all who pitched in and offered their time that day (and for the lunch provided by a St. Pius parishioner)!!  After the gutting, Dave and a buddy finished putting in the basement windows.  It's nice to actually have windows that open (and aren't painted shut).  It helps to get the air circulating and keep things dried out.

Now that we're down to just the studs and everything in the house is exposed, we can plainly see where to run electrical and ductwork.  On Thursday (yesterday), Dave took the electrical test for homeowners through the city.  He found out today that he passed at 88%!  Now he can actually manage the installation of the electrical at the house.  In addition, we are currently working with an HVAC and plumbing contractor and will hopefully get on their calendar soon.  Cold weather isn't too far off!  We're also working on coordinating and hiring a framing contractor to assist with some of the building changes.

We took a couple days off over Labor Day weekend to visit family but came back on Monday the 1st and worked on cleaning at the house to prepare for painting KILZ as well as rebuilding.  KILZ is a fast-drying primer which was recommended to us by the company who applied the mold inhibitor in mid-July.  The primer is designed to seal the porous surfaces and keep the mold away.  It will also cover water stains and not bleed back through new paint.  Dave used a paint sprayer (one of our new investments which we got a good deal on) and applied the KILZ to the bottom 3 feet of the first floor and in the basement.  So now it looks clean and white and smells like fresh paint in the house -- a welcome odor following the clean-up of the muck from the flood.

We submitted our FEMA appeal the week before Labor Day.  We had until the 5th of September to provide our documentation justifying the appeal.  We know it's been received.  

Now we wait for up to 30 days for some type of response.  We also continue to work with SBA and the additional information needed for our low interest loan.  We have been working with a wonderful case worker who has been very helpful in advising us and getting us the necessary loan money to get back on our feet.  We'll have to start paying on that in mid-December.  It will be interesting to juggle the mortgage AND this unanticipated loan.  Thankfully we have a couple month's grace period.

We have been working closely with our church with regard to the rebuilding efforts.  Our parish community at St. Pius X has been extremely supportive and will be coordinating volunteer efforts to help with the various aspects of the rebuild.  Parishioners signed up to volunteer and share their skills the weekend after the flood.  A committee is sorting through this list to utilize people's skills in the form of volunteer labor.  The discovery has been that there are many talented individuals who are willing to share their time.  We are

being considered the "pilot house" where they will gain knowledge and experience from the mission to help us rebuild.  Having these resources is absolutely incredible, and we are very humbled and grateful for this godsend!

Right now, we are working with contractors to commit to a time frame that works with their calendar and schedule.  This may be our biggest roadblock at this point since everyone in the local area is so busy with all the repairs that need to be done.  It's unknown when we will be able to return to our home but progress continues and we just have to be persistent, resilient, and keep plugging away!

Everyone's support and encouragement during this time is much appreciated!!

Heather & Dave

August 16, 2008

***Help is needed this Saturday, August 23, starting at 10 AM. The majority of the work will be demolition of the upstairs as we'll be making some room changes there. Bring your own gloves. Please email one of us if you're interested in helping or for more details (heather_atwater@hotmail.com or danUUc@danUUc.com).***

Today, we spent yet another Saturday working at the Bowling Street house. Dave worked on the basement windows while Heather did some clean-up work (sweeping, vacuuming, etc). We've purchased the basement windows and the frames are built (that was last weekend's project). However, some cement work needed to be done around the sills. The foundation is limestone with a crumbly, sandy base so that needs to be solidified. One out of five windows has been completely installed. We hope to finish the cement work early this week so the other windows are done before next weekend.

We are in the final stages of completing the additional paperwork that is required for our SBA loan. We originally applied on July 26, but we had to get insurance documentation for flood insurance, paperwork notarized, mortgage recorded and a title report done as part of the application process. Yes, more fees that we weren't expecting! We plan to take all the forms to the SBA office at Westdale Mall (aka "Flood Central") this week for review and then they will ship them to the home office for completion. All this is very time consuming as well as a lot of running around, but it has to be done.

We are also compiling our justifications for our FEMA appeal. We have 60 days to file the appeal which puts us at the 1st week of September. We can't wait until all this paperwork is done so we can just concentrate on rebuilding and getting back into our home!!

It is SO nice to have electrical back though. After 2 months without it, we didn't think we'd be this excited just to be able to do some simple tasks without powering up a generator. Dave could actually run a saw (to build the basement window frames) while Heather ran the shop-vac for cleaning, and we can have a fan running at the same time! Not having to use gas to run a generator is a huge savings.

We feel completely robbed of our summer though as most of it has been spent cleaning, doing paperwork, errand running, and planning for the rebuild. We need to commit to a heating and air company as well as a plumber for those services since winter is coming fast.

Keep us in your prayers as we still have a lot of major decisions that need to be made. If anyone has any insight, expertise, or knows of any good deals for flood survivors, please email us and let us know!!

Heather & Dave

August 7, 2008

HALLELUJAH!!! We have surpassed a major hurdle and finally have electrical back at the house!!! :) It's only 4 outlets, but we'll take it! It feels like an exciting, come-from-behind victory! Of course, it took a lot of effort and energy in addition to putting up a little fight. We had the electrical scheduled 3 weeks ago to be hooked up yesterday (Wednesday, 8/6). We had made plans to bury our cables underground to avoid aerial lines in the event we make other changes to the house where the lines would hinder our efforts. However, Alliant called first thing yesterday morning and said they wouldn't be able to dig our cable in yesterday. Talk about devastation! Then they proceeded to say that it would be ANOTHER 4 weeks!! We completely understand the utility companies (along with everyone else in town) are working hard and are extremely busy in spite of the flood, but this would majorly delay our efforts to begin working on our rebuild. Plus FEMA would be on our case about why we weren't back in the house sooner since they don't want to provide partial rental assistance any longer than necessary.

So since Alliant couldn't dig the trench for the wiring yesterday, we both decided to take vacation time, save the electric company some work, and dig it ourselves. The trench is the width of a shovel, has to be 3 foot deep, and is about 30 feet long. After 5 hours of digging (along with sore arms and backs), we got the trench completed. Wednesday night, we called and left a message for our Alliant contact that the digging was done!! We didn't hear back all morning about getting the electrical getting installed. Today was technically our rain date, but there was no guarantee it would get hooked up considering their workload. Then Dave went to the house at lunch, and they were there laying the cable! Once the trench was dug, the rest of the work was easy. What a relief to have power!! See the posted picture on this update with Dave plugging in a shop light.

We are still in the process of gathering a few more estimates from various contractors. In the next week or so, we will prepare all the documentation for our FEMA appeal. We don't know if they will consider us for any more federal grant funding, but we at least have to try. If we can prove and substantiate that repairs will be much more expensive than they indicated, the output will be worth it. We'll still have the SBA loan plus our mortgage to pay although grant money is indeed better than a loan (even a low-interest loan). We understandably have some anxiety and uneasiness about how we will swing both payments, but we'll find a way somehow.

The last 2 months has felt more like 2 years, but things are starting to progress in the right direction. People keep telling us that we'll be better off when this is all said and done. Of course the contents of the entire house will basically be brand new; yet, one still has to take into account the hundreds of man hours we'll have to put forth to accomplish this mighty task. So far, we have been blessed with lots of volunteer help and words cannot begin to express our gratitude. It will most certainly take a community to rebuild this great city -- working and rallying together to overcome this catastrophic event.

THANKS to all for the overwhelming response to take down the garage last Saturday, August 2. About 15-20 showed up whether confirmed or not. Heather had planned a surprise visit to visit her sister and new niece last weekend. Upon returning home and seeing the pictures with ALL the help, her emotions got the best of her. Talk about community! The work was completed in half the time we thought it would, and we were able to remove the flood-damaged garage debris to the curb while the city is still taking it, free of charge. Many hands make less work and the task gets done much faster! All your efforts were much appreciated.

We still have our faith and each other, and that's all we need to endure and prosper as flood survivors!!

July 23, 2008

***If you're free this Saturday from 2-6:00 in the afternoon, we're in need of a crew of about 6-8 to help with a few additional tasks that need to be completed before the rebuilding process can begin.  If interested, please email one of us (heather_atwater@hotmail.com or danUUc@danUUc.com) for details.***

We are starting to make some progress when it comes to getting contractor estimates.  We had a couple people come over on Saturday, and both said we are definitely on the right track!  That was certainly good to hear.  Since we are planning to a lot of the work ourselves (along with help of family, friends and church), we are getting bids a la carte.  We will have to have licensed contractors do the electrical, plumbing, duct work, etc, so we're trying to break down materials and labor costs to submit for our FEMA appeal.  We have 60 days to complete which puts it around the 1st of September.

This past Saturday, we also met with some friends from church who are in the design business.  We shared our ideas about rebuilding and remodeling.  We should hear back from them in the next couple weeks.  The good thing is we can make the house what we want- make it our own.  As long as we're down to studs anyway, we might as well!!

We were also busy removing the chimney on Saturday as well.  The chimney is non-functional, and it was taking up space we could potentially use for our rebuilding efforts.  It came out pretty easy though.  Just a few taps with the sledgehammer and we were able to take out the brick with our hands.  Dave set up a pulley system from the 2nd level with a plastic crate to lower the brick down to ground level so we didn't have to carry it all downstairs.  Heather then unloaded the crate so it could be pulled back up to be refilled again.  It was a pretty slick system.  Leave it to Dave to be resourceful like that!!  We used our garden cart/wagon we received as a gift from the wedding to haul the first floor brick to the curb (thanks Clint and Laura).  So now we have MORE debris on the curb - just what the city wants.

Our SBA loan documents are being processed now.  We're getting a low-interest loan from them to cover expenses for home repair and personal property.  This will be the first phase.  If we don't use all the monies, we can 'recast' the loan and get the payments reduced.  We also have the option (in the next 2 years) to refinance our mortgage.  That is, put a portion of the low-interest loan from SBA toward our principal mortgage payment which would help reduce that amount and pay that part of it off at a lower rate.  Every little bit helps at this point!

Our big task in the next week is to hopefully get electrical hooked back up.  We both took today (Wednesday) off to work at the house.  We also have more estimates to call on and get scheduled (i.e. plumbing, heating).  Heather calls them "house calls!"  We realize we have a long way to go, but we're starting to make a little progress, it seems!

There is lots of planning and organizing to do plus ensuring we're doing what the city allows.  We'll let you know when we need more help at the house!!  At this point, we are making sure our design along with everything else comes together (and we have the money to pay for it all)!!!  :)  Thanks for your continued support!


P.S.  Please check the 'If you are willing to help' section (from the menu) for the latest update there.

July 13, 2008


Greetings from Bowling Street (or 12th Street NE), depending on which house we're at!  It's been another busy week, and we STILL haven't had much time to unpack (and therefore, not being able to find things when we need them).

On Tuesday, we did finally receive funding from FEMA but it was nowhere near what we were expecting.  We're not sure how to get back to a functional level with what we received and why neighbors with similar damage received funds that were considerably more.  We would like to appeal but first need to get contractor estimates to make our case so it can be reviewed.  We have 60 days from July 7 to do so.  Of course, this could cause even more mental and emotional stress that we don't need right now, but we almost have to give it a shot.  If there's a difference between the FEMA amount and the contractor estimates, then there may be adjustments made to compensate the difference.  Anyone know of any high bidding contractors?!?


We had an SBA (Small Business Administration) loss verifier come on Wednesday to assess the property damages.  The SBA helps to cover personal property since FEMA funding does not address that.  The only problem is that SBA monies are in the form of a low-interest loan.  There may be some potential there though.  We need to provide some additional information in the form of Dave's side photography income, but we will know if we're approved within 5-10 days.


Yesterday (Saturday), we had a good crew helping us apply Pine-Sol to the basement and the sub-floor on the first level.  We have been told by a restoration/cleaning agency that the Pine-Sol actually kills the mold whereas bleach may not take care of it totally.  If the mold reappears in 3-5 days, there are spores still in the wood and we'll have to try sanding it off.  This same agency is scheduled to spray a mold inhibitor on Monday morning on anything wood or anything porous in the basement or the first floor in order to hopefully stop the growth.  They may also provide a service to encapsulate the wood so that the mold spores don't come back.  We will hopefully learn more about this during their visit tomorrow.


We also would like to get our electricity restored so we can run dehumidifiers and fans and not rely on a generator (which is a huge gas hog).  We learned that we shouldn't be running fans if mold is still present as they blow mold spores around.  Good to know now!!


We have A LOT of decisions to make in the coming weeks and months, and these are obviously not overnight decisions either.  Certainly not the way we intended to spend our summer.  Even though we are preparing the house to stay, we don't even know if that's the right decision at this point.  We do like the location and the neighborhood in Czech Village  We just hope we take the right course of action.  We've decided we have to stay on people and project manage this thing to the hilt!! It's going to require a lot of research.  We are just ready to move forward with our lives! though.


On a happier note, we are happy to report that we have a new niece!!!!  Heather's sister, Lindsay (and her husband, Travis), had a baby girl on July 11.  Yes, 7-11!!  Dave joked that they should have named her 'Slurpee.'  Her name is Addison Jean and everyone is doing fine.  We are happy to now have a girl to spoil on that side of the family.


We will keep you posted!


Heather & Dave

P.S. Thanks for all the Kohl's cards! We've gotten plenty! Looks like we're well on the way to getting Dave's wardrobe replaced.

July 4, 2008

***We plan to work at the Bowling Street house this Sunday (July 6) starting at 10 am.  If you're interested in helping out, please give us a call or just show up.***

It's been a little over a week since our last update and wanted to fill you in on the latest happenings.  Quite a bit has occurred since our last posting.

The biggest news is that we've moved (again)!!  Since there is so much uncertainty right now as to if/when we'll go back to Bowling Street, we looked at several temporary housing options last week.  We decided on a temporary rental house on the NE side of Cedar Rapids (near Mount Mercy College).  This is familiar territory for Heather since it's her alma mater!  We've stayed there since Monday night now and are trying to get settled into the new place - a place of our own to call home for now.  We signed an 8-month lease and the terms will be month to month beyond that if we need to continue living there.  The landlords were flexible on the terms so that helped tremendously.  The house is small but all we need for now.  It comes with a one-stall garage and has easy access to the interstate.  As we mentioned before, we are lucky to have rental assistance from both the Red Cross and Pearson.  Our special thanks to a good friend from Pearson who helped us find our new place (you know who you are)!!

We are grateful for our friends in Lisbon who have allowed us to stay these past few trying weeks.  They have been wonderful hosts, taking good care of us during our time there.

Heather's name change has now been accepted at FEMA, so we are waiting for our application to be completed.  They suggested calling back this Saturday to check status.  We'll keep on them until we get some results.  :)

We had quite a crew helping at the house this past Sunday.  We were able to finish clearing out the debris in the backyard and moving it to the front curb.  We've filled the curb 3 times now, so we're keeping the garbage folks quite busy!  On Sunday, we also finished gutting the first floor so we're down to just the studs.  Dave has been working on removing duct work and vents this week as well as bleaching the basement.

So for now, we are basically in a holding pattern until we learn more from FEMA about any assistance they will be able to offer.  We are also finishing up our SBA loan application which is for a low-interest loan beyond what FEMA may provide.  As you know, money doesn't grow on trees so we hope we wouldn't have to utilize the loan resources very much.  Hate to have that on top of a mortgage payment!!

Heather went back to work on Tuesday of this week, and Dave will be going back this Monday.  We're trying to ease back into normal life again.

As a side note, we had a good time at the Heather's dad's wedding in Riceville this past weekend.  A good time was had by all.  There were between 400 and 500 pictures were taken!  It was great to see relatives we hadn't seen in a while.  Dave hadn't even met some of the Sprung clan before.

Many thanks,

Heather & Dave

P.S. - If you are storing any of our things, you may need to give us a gentle reminder that you have items.  We've lost track of who has what! 

June 26, 2008

This week has flown by, and it's hard to believe we've been out of our home for 2 weeks now.  We've packed up and moved the 2nd floor so we have those items removed from the house, whether we stay or go.  If we decide to stay, we just wanted to have everything out of the house.  It's really hard to see the house so empty.

Power washing in the basement has continued, and we hope to do some bleaching before week's end.  At this point, we are preparing the house as if we'd remodel but we simply don't know what's going to happen.  We provided FEMA the necessary information for Heather's name change, but the application is still in progress.  We don't know what will happen or how much aid we may receive, but we do know that we do know we don't want to take out a large low-interest loan through the SBA to compensate for our losses.

Our debris (aka personal possessions) which has been out on the curb was picked up this morning.  We never thought we'd be so happy to see it go!  Seeing it every day was just a constant reminder, so now we can at least start to move on with our lives.  We still had debris in the backyard and began to move that to the curb today.  Most of it included insulation and wood debris.  It rained last night so you can imagine the insulation was a soggy, smelly mess.  We hope to finish (or mostly finish) moving everything to the front curb on Sunday.

We'll be taking a short break from our house duties to attend Heather's dad's wedding this weekend.  Obviously, this was planned long before the flood.  Dave is the official photographer, so we have an extra obligation to be there.  J    We are planning to return to Cedar Rapids on Sunday to complete the backyard clean-up.  If you're free, we could always use the help.  Many hands make less work.  Give us a call mid-morning on Sunday to confirm a meeting time at the house.

The headline in the local paper earlier this week stated that 2,000 of the 4,000 homes affected in the Cedar Rapids area would be destroyed.  It is so depressing to hear that a portion of our city (both residential and business) will likely not be rebuilt.  We've heard of 4 basements caving in in our neighborhood (in the next block) in the past week.  It's hard to tell at this point how the area will be impacted and if we'll even have a neighborhood left.

We are currently looking into temporary housing as we have no idea when/if we'll be back in our home.  We hope to make a decision by early next week.  The Red Cross and Pearson (Heather's work) have offered to help with this temporary housing by assisting with several months' rent.  It's a blessing to have this support.

We have more pictures and will try to post them soon.  In the meantime, we feel your support and are grateful to have such wonderful friends and family.  Enjoy the weekend!

P.S.  Many have asked what they can do to help.  Until we know the status of our house, we would certainly be able to use gift cards (for example, Wal-Mart, Bed/Bath and Beyond).  Since Dave lost most of his clothes in the flood, Kohl's cards would also be wonderful to help replace his wardrobe.  Thanks again!!

June 24th, 2008
Well we've had a couple of days of rush, rush, rush, to get all of the moist and molding materials out of the house. Out of the basement, we've removed the entire walls, insulation, wiring, electronics, furnace, water heater. On the first floor, the water was up to 18 inches high and so we've gone through and removed the bottom 36 inches of plaster, lathe, and drywall from all of the rooms. This meant removing kitchen cabinets, built-in curio cabinets, paneling, and tub.

Everything is out on the curb,.... still. After three days, nothing has been picked up so the piles have gotten higher.  Plus we still have debris in the back yard that the curb won't accommodate.  It's all just a constant reminder of what we've lost and how our lives have been turned upside down.  The sooner it's gone, the sooner we can start to move on.

The basement is down to cement walls and that's about it (very depressing since we built the home theater down there). We've got most of it power washed with a pressure washer, and we'll be coating with a good helping of bleach this Wednesday or Thursday morning. That should stave off any mold likely to grow on the surface, but still the smell could always be there.

Stood in line for over 7 hours on Monday to get some help form the Red Cross, but they were very supportive got some good info, but received a generous gift card which will help. FEMA is having difficulty processing our application for aid because Heather's name change hasn't propagated to the appropriate offices (even though it was done shortly after the wedding in October). So more frustration there as this just delays the process.

We've had a great number of people help out, provide food, or drop off supplies, too. We could not have done it without them.

We have the house in fairly good shape to repair in case we stay there, however, we still have no idea what we're going to do...if we're staying, if we're going, if we're rebuilding. That's the frustrating part.... we just don't know. More questions than answers at this point.  We can't think of anything we need right now -- just lots of prayers and positive thoughts for the right decision to be made when that time comes.

Thanks again for all the support!

June 20th, 2008
We can't always answer, but.....
Dave's Cell - 431-5874
Heather's Cell - 573-5751
We are checking email as often as possible.

June 18th, 2008

It's hard to believe it's been almost a week since we evacuated our home due to the unprecedented flood.  We have added you to this email distribution list to update you on our flood situation.  We've had many calls and emails from people asking how we are and what they can do.  We thought this might be the best way to communicate and keep everyone posted as best we can.  We understand you may already receive too many emails as it is, so if at any time you wish to be removed from the distro, please email us back and let us know.  We're trying to stay connected via phone as well, however, may not always be available to take calls.  Feel free to leave a message and we'll try to return your call as soon as possible.
We were finally granted access, but it wasn't easy to return to our home on Tuesday, June 17.  It's been a little less than a week and the mold and mildew smell in the house was overwhelming.  So much of what we had worked for and all the effort in making this house our home was destroyed beyond recovery.  The flood waters had risen from the basement into about the first 12-18 inches of the first floor.  Most of the furniture on the first floor was not salvageable and had to be put on the curb for garbage pick-up.  It was like trash amnesty day gone wild in our neighborhood.  We also ripped up all the carpeting on that floor, which was still completely soaked.  Hardwood oak flooring was underneath.  We started removing some clothes we thought could be saved, and some family members were gracious enough to take them home to try and wash out the damage.  Unfortunately, most of Dave's clothes were located in the basement.
We haven't been able to start removing anything from the basement, however, since there is still a couple feet of water there.  Our home theater area down there was completely destroyed.  Everything is in shambles and things ended up on entirely different sides of the room.  We had just finished the theater room in early 2006, so definitely not enough movies had been viewed yet.  Last Thursday before we left, we used everything we had to move all the furniture and equipment in the basement at least 4 feet off the floor.  Who knew the flooding would extend WAY beyond that!  Our house is out of the flood plain so no flood insurance.  The street flooded a block and a half beyond us.
At this point, we are waiting for both a FEMA and home insurance adjuster to inspect our home.  Hopefully, these will both occur by the end of this week but these agencies are extremely busy, as you can imagine.
So many of you have asked how you can help.  Right now, we are just SO overwhelmed with all the devastation and are trying to determine how to proceed.  Obviously, the inspections need to occur first.  We know areas of need will be identified as we go forward, and we're hoping to communicate all of this via email updates so you can stay informed on our situation as the weeks and months go on.  In the meantime, a small group is planning on aiding us in some initial cleanup this Thursday.
Living out of a suitcase will certainly not be easy for this extended period of time, but we're taking things step by step, little by little, day by day.  We know we still have each other AND all of your support to help carry us through this very difficult time.  If you have any pointers or resources you think would be beneficial to us, please feel free to pass this information on.
Again, thanks for your care and support and we'll try to post some photos for the next update.

Heather & Dave

(Sorry, but the current Rockwell Collins browser will not display the pics)

Skid loader was a great help! Thanks Dad!
33 minutes into teardown.
56 minutes into teardown.
1 hour, 20 minutes into teardown. And it's gone!
We dug it!!...... 3ft deep by 30ft long!
Heather and Dave moved a lot of dirt in 5 hours!