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Nightmare on Upper Crooked Lake

Luke Froncheck, Staff Writer, reports Upper Crooked Lake residents Brian and Karry Taylor live in a flood-filled house. They have multiple pumps in place and a sandbag dam stretching almost their entire property.

But when last week’s rain hit, and kept hitting, and the Taylors' dam just wasn’t enough. The water came right over the top of the sandbags, and runoff from their street brought water to their front door.

When Brian Taylor got up for work at around 5 in the morning last Thursday, the water was coming in from the corner of their living room. His wife attempted to barricade a portion of their first floor with blankets and whatever else she could find. Within the hour, the first floor was filled with water.

“Thursday really killed us,” Brian Taylor said. “It was brutal before then, but the water just came right over the top.”

It feels like “we’ve been battling this forever,” his wife added. “It was our worst nightmare”

After a day and a half, the water receded and about 25 of the Taylors' friends and neighbors came to help clean up their flooded home. They had to remove their hardwood floors. They moved all their first-floor furniture to their pole barn.

Their house is currently surrounded by flood water, sandbags, and pumps.

Following the flooding last week, they added a third layer to their sandbag dam. They have four pumps running all the time.

“It’s all-consuming,” Karry Taylor said. “Every day it’s a matter of finding out where the water is, making sure the sandbags are still in place. You have to make sure the tubing isn’t clogged.

“This is all we do.”

The top priority is keeping the house dry. They're not having much luck with that.

The water has past Taylors' seawall by about 35 feet. They’ve also had to cut their back deck in half to build up the sandbag dam to protect their house from further flooding.

“When we bought this house, there was 15 feet of beach past our seawall,” she said.

The difference between the ground level and the water level of Crooked Lake on the Taylor residence is roughly a foot. Sandbags are the only way they can hold the water back.

The couple no longer live in their house; they are currently staying in a coworker's fifth wheel parked in their driveway.

“We can still use our house for laundry and electricity,” she said.

“We’ve raised our kids, and this was our retirement house,” Karry Taylor added. “We’ve always wanted a lake house. ...We flipped houses to the point where we could afford this. Two and a half acres, a big pole barn -- what more could you want?We’ve put at least $100,000 into this house. It was in pretty rough shape when we got it. We’ve been working on it since we bought it.”

All repairs and changes made to protect the house from flooding have been paid for directly out of the Taylors' pocket – since they couldn't buy flood insurance.

“If you’re not in a flood plain they won't even sell it to you,” Brian Taylor said. “For now, this is all on us. We’ve been paying kids to come out and fill sandbags for us.”

If they had it to do all over again, quite simply, they wouldn't.

“I wouldn’t buy another house on the lake, no,” he said. “I’d go buy a house on a mountain in Tennessee.”

“This was our dream house,” she said.

But it was a dream that turned into a nightmare.

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