My Family is Houseless but Not Homeless

Mark Merrill


“Hello, Mr. Merrill? This is John Smith from Tampa Fire and Rescue. Do you know what’s happened to your home?”

“No,” I said in with a questioning voice.

“Well, you have a major problem in your home.  It’s flooded.”

“What?” I gasped. “What happened?”

“I would just suggest you get here quickly,” he exclaimed.

“Thank you,” I said hurriedly as I hung up the phone. I jumped in my car and raced home from the office in the pelting rain. Once I pulled into the driveway, I realized what had happened. We were getting a new roof on our house and the workers had taken off the old one but, for whatever reason, they were not able to get a tarp secured to cover the house. So, in came the heavy rain. The attic, second floor and first floor were all inundated. Beautiful old plaster ceilings fell to the floor, antique furniture was ruined, and clothes were soaked. That night, June 1st, we moved out.

Sure, it’s tough for my family to be houseless. You get kind of disoriented and feel like you’re in a fog. But we’re not homeless. We know where our permanent home really is. Carrie Underwood shares the same sentiment in her hit song, Temporary Home—“This is our temporary home.  It’s not where we belong…This is just a stop, on the way to where we’re going.”   Heaven is my family’s ultimate home and our final destination.

As you watch this video below, you’ll see how our house was destroyed, all of the damage that was done, and how we, as a family, reacted and ultimately gave thanks for this difficulty in our lives.

Check out my wife, Susan’s, take on the flood on her blog

The Roof Came Off & The Rain Came Down

The Flood Phase I: How Can It Be So Harmful?

The Flood Phase II: Kill The Mold In Your Mind

The Flood Phase III: Saying Goodbye

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • 1burningbush

    Your story is most interesting.  Nearly the exact same thing happened to us in 1991 after moving into a 200 year old home.  It was most challenging for us as we were left to do nearly all the repairs and renovations on our own.  Insurance help was minimal and personal resources non-existent.  We wore out our welcom in the home of my inlaws while working on the home and trying to maintain a job.  It stretched us and shaped us and equipped us in multiple ways.  Our lessons were hard and trying but by God’s grace we survived and learned alot along the way.  It certainly changes one’s perspective!

  • Thanks for sharing 1burningbush. I’m glad to hear your experience brought you closer together as a family. What a blessing in disguise!

  • Rob Lewis

    My wife and I actually joke that we are prone to flooding. A month after a flooding incident during my stay at a Disney World Resort, our first home flooded in 2006 while we were out for the day with our little girl and close friends at a park BBQ. Before leaving, I threw a load of laundry in, not realizing that the water level switch was stuck on the washer. By the time we had gotten home, it had flooded nearly our whole house with the exception of the two back bedrooms. Water was pouring down the driveway and also onto our pool deck, in addition to the four inches or so in the house. The insurance was less than generous to say the least. Exactly three years later, we were moving back to Tampa from a two year stay in the thousand islands in NY and had come down before our belongings, storing them at my in-laws vacant house. A pipe burst a week later, on the second floor directly over our stuff, flooding that house and nearly destroying it. They charged for 250,000 gallons of water that flowed through the house. Through our strong faith and our incredible bond with each other, we had no problem seeing the humor in the situation. Everything can be replaced.

  • Rob Lewis

    I nearly forgot to mention losing everything on March 13th, 1993 during the infamous no name storm. We lived in Tarpon on the bayou and my parents cars, our clothes, furniture, and all pictures and belongings were completely destroyed. It taught an early lesson to always store unreplaceable keepsakes, treasures, and pictures in a sealed container on a shelf or highest place away from water sources.

    My heart goes out to you and your family, good will always come a tragedy like this.

  • Cindy

    This must have been the same rain that flooded my home on June 1st but I was only getting the flat roof on the addition replaced.  They had the old roof off when it started raining very hard in Brandon.  I also got a call at work that my family room & laundry room was flooded because they couldn’t tarp it quick enough.
    We didn’t have to move out but I had to negotiate with the roofer to try & get the damage taken care of properly.  I wanted all the ceiling drywall replaced in both rooms but the roofer only wanted to replace the laundry room drywall & use Kilnz on the family room ceiling.  To date, it is still not finished but I still have his cashiers check!

  • Cindy, sounds like the same storm!  Sorry to hear about that.

  • Thanks Rob…sounds like you all can relate!

  • John Sparacio

    Nothing is possible without our Lord Jesus the Christ (anointed one). You can be the richest man or women in the world, and still true happiness, and salvation is not possible without a relationship with Jesus our Savior and Lord.
    He is all love and truth! The creator of this world and universe. Everlasting and ever present. All knowing and understanding. All patient and protecting. All reason and things happen because of him. We are the children of creation formed from stardust, and molded into perfection. May all of you fine people find the true Jesus, the one who saves and loves, and not the Jesus of man’s lips who hates and condemns. May God Bless one and all.

  • Beverley Grant

    Hey, Mark and Susan, I can really feel your pain. A few years ago our hot water heater ruptured…not leaked, but spewed water out. Unfortunately the heater was under the stairwell. The whole downstairs was flooded. Our daughter and her family were here and she came down one hour earlier than usual to go for a walk and came into our room calling me, THE HOUSE IS FLOODING.  I jumped up at 7 a.m. and sloshed through the foyer. Our whole downstairs flooring had to be ripped out, I lost wallpaper in the foyer and kitchen, we had the 747 fans going in the kitchen to dry out the cabinets, etc. etc. etc.  We experienced nothing like you did, but the disruption was amazing. We, too, realized that this is all STUFF, wood, hay and stubble that will BURN one day.  I am grateful you, Susan and your family were not sleeping when this happened. I have also had moths come and eat my wool rug in the great room. That is a great word picture. Lord, help us all to keep our eternal perspectives.

    Thanks, Mark, for you and your families testimony.


  • Doreen Blair

    WOW, what a mess.  However, I will agree with you that the “stuff” of life seems to be just that “stuff”.  God is more honored when we are in the “storm” or crisis of life and we still praise that when we praise in the good times.
    He is refining all of you and I know God will renew you all thru this time. 
    II Timothy 1:7.  You blessed me today with your story.
    Doreen Blair

  • Thanks for your encouragement, Doreen. God is still good!

  • Thanks for sharing, Beverley. We’re grateful for His protection.

  • Thanks for the great reminder, John. We serve a mighty God!

  • Edhuertas

    This is the first time posting so here it goes: It’s been over a month since that horrible day of June 1
    when the Merrill’s home was turned into a disaster zone. It was horrible for
    them and myself since it was my company on their roof when this accident
    happen.  Our company has been doing
    business in the Tampa Bay area for 90 years, of which I have been a part of it
    for 34 years. Never have I seen or experience such a magnitude of water in a
    home before, and hope never to see again. On the same note never have I seen a
    reaction such as I witnessed from owners whose home had water dripping from
    every ceiling in the house.

    As I entered the home and saw what you see in Mark’s video I
    braced myself knowing that the typical owner would be down into my face
    yelling, cursing, and threatening me. Instead I witnessed owners, obviously in shock
    and disbelief, but also providing me a sense of grace in the mist of chaos. There
    was a difference in their reaction that made them none typical owners for the
    situation. Even now a month later as the reality of having to move out, having
    their lives totally disrupted, and faced with the typical uncertainty of
    insurance coverage I’m witnessing a Christian example I hope to
    emulate in my
    Ed H

  • Cflee45

      Thank you for sharing what a great testimony & witness the Merrill’s have been in this crisis.  My small flat roof was being prepared to be torched that same day, when that storm affected the job.  The old roof was off & the rain came flooding in to the family room & laundry room.
      The roofer sent a few guys over a week later to replace part of the ceiling drywall in the laundry room & kilnz the huge areas in the family room ceiling.  I thought it all needed replaced.  Unfortunately, I just arrived home to find a throw rug in the family room soaked with water.  I can’t locate the source.  It’s not coming from the ceiling that I can see.  I moved a piece of furniture & found a large puddle of water.  It has me puzzled.
      I haven’t heard from my roofing company for about a month now. Not even for payment!  The Merrill’s have been blessed to have chosen a roofing company that has integrity!
    Cindy F