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She's had it with floods

After losing homes to the 1997 New Year's flood, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and finally the swollen Rogue River, Dee Phillips has had enough

Water seems to follow Dee Phillips wherever she goes.

After moving to Bay St. Louis, Miss., about a year ago, she was forced last summer to escape the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.

I cried a lot, said the 58-year-old. I finally had to get anti-depressants.

After staying in hotels in Houston, she returned to live with her ex-husband, Ernie Phillips, in Rogue River.

Then the floodwaters rose last week, forcing her to flee that home as well.

— I used to love water, said Phillips, whose e-mail address coincidentally begins with deep. I recommend relocating in Tucson, if that tells you anything.

She is also a survivor of the 1997 flood in Jackson County.

Phillips, who lives on her meager Social Security income, said the full impact of her vagabond existence and the loss of many of her possessions hasn't hit her yet.

Confined to a wheelchair, she has had two strokes as well as heart and back surgery in the past few years.

She is now living in her son's house in Cave Junction and isn't sure where she'll live next. She's welcome for as long as she wants, reassured her son, 41-year-old Chad DeNoon.

Phillips said her escape from Mississippi is still fresh in her mind. She lost many of her possessions, including an electric scooter that she used for shopping.

To get away from the floodwaters, Phillips piled into a car with two adult neighbors, two children, two dogs, one bird and their clothing. What was supposed to be a three-hour journey turned into eight hours.

We went on back roads, she said. I have no idea which way we took.

Her daughter and son-in-law eventually returned to their house, but they found it ruined from three trees that had fallen into the roof. Phillips said her daughter and son-in-law are getting ready to move to California.

Phillips is particularly worried about her ex-husband, whose house is filled with mud and all his furnishings and appliances have been destroyed.

She remembers how hard he took the 1997 flood. The last time, he sat on the edge of the bed and rocked and rocked, she said.

Ernie Phillips, 73, said he is overwhelmed by the latest catastrophe, not knowing where to turn to for help. Unlike the '97 flood, he wasn't able to get his belongings out this time.

It was a good house, he said. I don't think it's salvageable.

He has been staying at a hotel, but his money's running out, and he's worried about where he is going to live.

Stepping through the mud in his house Thursday, he tried to pull the drawers out of an antique oak desk, but found they were swollen shut.

Everything is upside down and floating, he said.

Ernie Phillips said he doesn't have any money to start cleaning up. He said he couldn't do anything anyway until the insurance company reviews the damage.

Surveying the work needed to get his house back in order, he said, If they think it's savable, I wish they'd give some cash to get started.

He said that even though he had broken up with his wife, he still needed to help her out after the hurricane.

She was stuck in Houston and out of money and out of everything, he said.

Dee Phillips said she would like to help her ex-husband with the clean-up effort, but can't do anything because of her disabilities.

Her son also wanted to help out, but said he couldn't do anything until after the insurance adjuster had seen the damages. I wish I was there helping him right now, he said.

Dee Phillips said she and her ex-husband remained friends after their breakup.

We didn't divorce in anger, she said.

Ernie Phillips said he's glad that he got his ex-wife out of the house before the flooding began.

The water came up so fast, he said. I was tickled to death that we got her out of here.

She's had it with floods"dmann@mailtribune.com.

Dee Phillips had escaped floodwaters in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, only to find herself fleeing again when the Rogue River flooded her ex-husband?s home where she?d been staying. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell