Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Paradise...Lost then Restored

We have been in Gulf Shores Alabama at the Bella Terra RV Resort. Bella Terra is an upscale Class A Motorcoach resort just inland from the beautiful white sugar sands of the Gulf of Mexico. I dedicated a full page spread on this resort a few weeks ago. On April 30, 2014, Mother Nature paid us a visit and boy was she pissed!....we received 24" of rain in a 12 hour period. Needless to say our park and most of the surrounding area was inundated with water. While most folks survived the ensuing flood waters unscathed, several of us weren't so lucky. We lost two coaches, a Prevost and a Newell, a 2014 Porsche Turbo with 900 miles on it and our beloved HHR. All were considered total losses by our respective insurance companies. As I've said many times, when man challenges Mother Nature, we tend to lose every time. The good news is that we were able to pull together and have the park back in pristine shape within 2 days. Here are some pictures:

This picture was taken the day before from outside our front door. Note the Prevost across the lake...that's the blue/silver bus just to the left of the fountain.

This is what we faced when we looked out the next morning. Actually, I was up most of the night keeping the air up in the coach to keep us above the rising waters.

You might ask why we didn't simply fire up the coach and move to higher ground. Well...with the HHR parked in front of the coach, we couldn't move the coach without moving it. With the electronics submerged, it would not start and we couldn't take it out of park to manually move it. so we were stuck.

I had been working on my computer and Debi had been watching TV. We listened to the steady rain falling but didn't think it was as bad as it was. Jasmine came to me to go out around midnight and as I let her out, she jumped out into a lake, swam around and came right back in. The water was over the top step and almost to the door sill. My immediate response was to start the coach and air up the suspension to raise the compartments above the water level.

This is looking west towards the back of the campground. The Prevost is the coach on the left. The water reached the bottom of the headlights. The gazebo in the middle actually has bridges extending from one side of the lake to the other. Both bridges are inundated.

Another shot of the Prevost. He also had his golf cart parked next to the coach and a Harley trike in the gazebo. All three were lost.

I used this coach as a benchmark to judge water levels throughout the park.

A better shot of the gazebo. There are four large seating benches inside this gazebo. However, one was found about a block away and the other three were washed ashore on the far side of the lake.

Our friends, Brian and Bill purchased their lot last year. It's an awesome location right on the point of the western peninsula. That's their place with the casita on the left. About 3/4ths of this picture should be grass.

How about a pool that flows into the lake, or a lake that flows into the pool. We found several fish swimming in the pool. Pretty ugly.

After we pumped out the water, the pool was pressure washed, disinfected, pressure washed again and refilled. It was ready the following day!

As the flood water receded we began the cleanup. Here's a rear shot of the Prevost. The bench in the foreground belongs in the gazebo that spans the lake as seen in the earlier picture.

A closer picture of the gazebo from the far side of the lake. We were fortunate no one occupied this site.

A closer look at Bill and Brians site. Their coach pad is on the left as you can see the electrical pedestal and that's their seating area with firepit that completely under water. This was taken the next afternoon after we had begun pumping the water out of the lake and campground. If you look closely, you can tell how much water has been removed using the Prevost in the background as a water level meter. It's tires were almost submerged.

Another picture taken from Site 349 across the lake and flooded green belt areas.

About now you're asking yourself, how do you quickly get rid of 40 acres of water, 24" deep? Well, you bring in the big guys. Here's one of several trucks called in to supply the campground with huge water pumps to assist in removing the water. Think seven pumps moving about 5,000 gals of water per minute!

Almost two days later the pumps were still working their magic. Much of the water was gone and the cleanup could begin. The coach pad, by the way is the one our coach had been parked on. I finally removed the transmission linkage on the HHR and towed it to higher ground. Once removed, I was also able to move the coach to a better location. We suffered no damage to the coach, but the HHR was a total loss.

In the middle of this picture stands a turtle. It was a large fiberglass turtle that had floated in the flood waters and ended up here as the water was pumped out. This entire area had been under water.

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