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Monday, June 22, 2015

Saving a ‘Parade’ Home

Builders rely on community to survive Red River flood


Curtis M. Loftin Builder, LLC, began construction March 1 of a 6,000-sqaure-foot-home he was determined to build just under 100 days for the Northwest Louisiana Home Builder’s Association Parade of Homes. However, through the course of the construction, Mother Nature threw a few obstacles at builders Curtis Loftin and Bob Horrell with ice storms, continuous rain and also the threat of the Red River flooding this month.

The home, located in Shreveport’s Les Maisons Sur La Rouge subdivision, was the builders’ first custom home on the Parade of Homes tour this month.

“We poured our foundation on March 1 in between the ice storm and the next rain shower that had blanketed the area for the first four months of 2015,” Horrell said. “Somehow we were able to accomplish what was thought to be the impossible.”

The original deadline for the home was June 5, when the home would be cleaned and prepped for the Parade of Homes tour.

As the reports of possible flooding from the Red River started coming in May 31, Loftin and Horrell met with homeowners Jasen Bragg and Bucky Crouch to discuss a plan to prepare for the projected rising waters.

“We began on Monday, the first of June, and arranged a delivery of 3,000 sandbags and loads of sand to be brought to the house to begin our sandbag walls,” Horrell said.

The father-in-law/son-in-law builder duo bought and bagged their own sandbags to use around the custombuilt home as soon as news arrived of the possible flood. A typical sandbag wall was established surrounding the home.

As the predicted crest level was on the rise, Loftin and Horrell gathered as many water pumps and generators that they could find with the help of family and friends.

Loftin’s daughters, Amanda Horrell and Mary McDaniel, reached out to friends for help, supplies and donations, and dressed in waders helping and supporting their loved ones and friends each day during the flood.

The daughter duo worked to get volunteers, food and supplies while also taking care of their children and homes of their own. The women orchestrated a volunteer system to ensure volunteers were available around the clock and that each worker was rested and fed.

“Complete strangers were there to help save my house,” Bragg said. “I don’t remember who they all were, but to the friends, strangers, fire fighters and volunteers that all kicked in and helped, I thank you.”

Horrell said a lot of unknowns took the builders by surprise.

“At any given point, we had as many as 12 large water pumps, four to five generators and as many as 30 people at the house 24 hours a day to keep the waters at bay,” Horrell said.

The sandbag walls were not tall enough to keep the river out so Loftin and Horrell reached out to the public for sandbags and help. Additional sandbags were needed to take the wall up, and manpower was needed to transport the sandbags across over 6 feet of riding red surrounding the home and to monitor the integrity of the current sandbag walls while watching for water breaches.

After several sandbag walls failed, Loftin said he devised a plan to use wooden pallets and plywood to brace the sandbag walls using the house as a backstop.

Horrell said he found a major amount of water coming in the back corner of the home June 9.

“Out of the blue, came a family, husband, wife and two teenage sons out of nowhere with a boat full of sandbags and a ton of energy. They kept bags coming, which helped us focus on what we were doing,” Horrell said. “Then the Shreveport Fire Department arrived, and we were able to gain control. As I looked up and could finally breathe, Mr. Curtis [Loftin] peeked his head around the corner. He came with a smile and a big thumbs up, and I finally knew we were going to be fine. I asked him what time it was, thinking that he came in early to help, and he stated it was 8 p.m.

We had been in battle for five straight hours, and it seemed like it was five minutes.”

Horrell said community support gave them hope.

“It taught us to believe in the person beside you because they may be the answer to your prayer. It taught us the importance of family and friends; without them, we wouldn’t have accomplished any of this. Finally, what it taught us is that there is good in everything,” Horrell said.

Bragg and Crouch presented their home during the second week of the tour, and they, along with the builders, donated to the Shreveport Job Corps for all of their help and support in saving the home. The builders donated $5 for each person that visited and toured the home during the June 20-21 of the Parade of Homes tour.

–Brittney Trahan


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