The first time you see your flooded house, you surrender.
You simply give up. You say things like, "It's all ruined," and, "There's nothing to save." It's just too much to comprehend. You think if you just close your eyes, all will be back to normal when you look again. It doesn't work.
The second time you see your flooded house, you think, perhaps there are a few things I can get. Things of special, sentimental value. Things that are either waterproof, or even if not, would be worth having even if damaged. Things that are emotionally worth the effort of moving furniture, digging through sludge and debris, climbing over and around rotting food and stinking, mildew covered clothes and bedding. Jewelry, awards and pins, little baubles that have value beyond the material.
The third time you see your flooded house, you start to believe that there's a lot of things in there that are actually in pretty good shape, considering. Dishes and classware, for instance, can be salvaged with a little scrubbing and a bleach bath. Stainless silverware is likewise good to go, provided the metal is not pitted. Coffee mugs, that odd assortment that could almost tell your family's history of vacations, schools and professional meetings, might not be worth more than 50 cents, but you just can't leave them behind.
The fourth time you see your flooded house, you pull out your CDs and DVDs. Sure, the boxes are trash, but the discs might still work. Some of them are brown and tarnished, or pitted and peeling. You know those won't play. But a lot of them are still shiny and silver. You give them a good cleaning, and are surprised to find that although they will play and they surely look clean, they still stink. That's okay for the James Brown CDs, but Patsy Cline should not be funky. You look around for other things, but there is very little that the soaking waters have not permanently ruined.
The fifth time you see your flooded house, you surrender. You close you eyes and keep them shut.