Cat Lavelle went for a run at 5:30 am, February 21. She noticed Coyote Creek, a few blocks from her house, was high but thought there was no way it could reach the 30 foot banks. Later that afternoon, Cat, five months pregnant, decided to take her two young children to look at the creek. As they were leaving the house, she saw water rushing in the street gutters. A helicopter flew overhead, and a voice over the loud speaker announced it was time to evacuate. She texted her husband, Brendan, and took the kids to his parents’ house.

Brendan Lavelle was at Stanford Hospital with his mother who had just been diagnosed with Leukemia. Brendan left his mom at the hospital, and came home at 5 pm; water completely covered the street and some driveways. When he returned that night, the entire yard was underwater and the basement was filling rapidly. Brendan made some frantic attempts to salvage more family belongings until firefighters in a boat ordered him to evacuate.At 10:30 pm and 2:00 am he received evacuation orders via text –too late.

The Lavelles remained evacuated for weeks. Brendan had to take time off work pump out water, remove debris, sort through destroyed belongings, demolish damaged parts of the house, and try to remediate the mold. Meanwhile, Brendan’s mother was suffering: her chemotherapy sapping her strength and impairing her cognition. One month later, his mother succumbed to cancer. Brendan explains, “the flood struck just when I most wanted and needed to be with her and support her… Because of the flood and its aftermath I was unable to give my mother the attention and support she deserved.”

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