MIAMI, AZ — It’s been almost one year since Susie and Frank Tena have slept in their family home.
“We were getting ready to retire here,” Frank said. “I pulled some money and got us somewhat out of debt, and then replaced almost every major appliance in here. So that went up in smoke. Just one little flood and that was gone.”
“I lived here my whole life and never, ever have I seen it flooded as it did last year,” Miami Mayor Sammy Gonzales said.
The floods were the result of burn scars left by the Telegraph and Mescal fires which, combined, burned more than 263,000 acres of land.
Those burn scars, subsequently hit by rain from monsoon storms, caused back-to-back-to-back floods in the City of Globe and Town of Miami.
The Tena’s home, which sits alongside a Miami wash that flooded in 2021, was filled with 18 inches of mud. Everything inside was destroyed.
“I came in the following day and started opening doors,” Frank said. “We broke every door in the place to get the doors out. And that’s when we noticed the water line.”
Since then, Frank and Susie have been trying to put their home back together, piece by piece.
“Our life is so changed. I don’t have time for my grandkids or anybody because I am here all the time. Because we need this house back,” Susie said. “We don’t go anywhere, we don’t do nothing. We just save everything we can save to finish this house.”
Frank is doing the bulk of the rebuilding himself. The couple told ABC15 they lost track of how much money they’ve spent replacing what was lost.
Even with emergency relief funding available, Mayor Gonzales said residents whose homes were damaged in Miami are still struggling.
“The problem we’re having is with our residential, not helping inside,” Gonzales said. “All this money is helping outside of the homes but there’s no help for the individuals that need it for any kind of reconstruction they need inside of their home.”
The Tenas do not know when they will be able to move back. The living room is nearly done, but they need to finish the bedrooms and bathroom. What’s more, they are concerned about the current monsoon season, and whether the wash beside their home will flood again.
“If it comes again, we’re gonna lose everything again,” Susie said.
Still, the husband and wife of 48 years will continue to rebuild the home Susie’s parents once owned.
The memories and the history are too important for them to let go.
“We will be back,” Frank said. “As long as the Lord provides us.”