Time to Rebuild, Part 2

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When I left the story of my house flood in Time to Rebuild, Part 1, I was standing in my kitchen, in shock at the devastation a broken water pipe had caused while I had been gone for 3.5 weeks. I later found out, when I got my water bill, that 178,000 gallons of water had spilled from that water pipe during my absence. My homeowner’s insurance company said that was the largest amount of water they had ever dealt with on an insurance claim. It was a wonder my house wasn’t washed off its foundation.

When I left you at the end of the first part of the story, the first call I made was to the  homeowner’s insurance company. They sent an adjuster right out. She basically told us that everything was ruined. Even items that had not gotten wet and sat in high humidity for 3.5. weeks. They had to be replaced if possible. The first question, however, was where were we going to live. Clearly, the house had to be totally renovated. We decided to live in our RV, parked by the house. We had a dog and a cat, so living in a hotel was out of the question.

Next question was who to hire to renovate my house. The insurance company knew just the company. They specialized in flooding problems like mine. Within one or two days, they were here, on the job.

I am a private person. Not very open about my personal and private possessions. It was very difficult to watch the work crew unload every piece of furniture in my house, remove everything in them, box it up, and haul it to their warehouse. It took weeks to get everything emptied and stored. Then, the furniture had to be moved to their warehouse. Finally, it was time to start work.

The first thing the crew had to do was to dry out the house. It had gotten so wet and had suffered so much high humidity that it took weeks. They used big dehumidifiers and that is the picture you see above. Three weeks passed as they made sure everything was dry and tried to assess the damage. As you can see in the photo, the house was stripped down to its bare bones. The flooring and carpet was pulled up. Appliances were trashed. Furniture was either trashed or warehoused. Even the woodwork had to be taken off the door facings and, finally, the drywall was removed and new drywall put in its place. It was a shocking experience.

After the house was dried out, the renovation crew went to work. They were good and professional. They knew exactly what to do with a house that had been flooded. Slowly, I saw my house come back together. We had to be part of that. The kitchen had been totally destroyed and had to have new appliances and new cabinetry. The entire house had to have new floors or carpet. The water had poured through the heating/cooling system. It had to be replaced. I could go on and on about what had to be replaced but you get the picture. Everything.

The renovation crew wanted to make sure everything was clean and dry. The water had all run from the house into the crawl space. They had to dry it out too. They used a technique called soda blasting to get rid of any possible problems there.

It took four months. Living in a RV with a cat and dog for four months wasn’t fun but at least we had someplace to live. We even had to slowly start replacing our clothes, which were ruined due to high humidity. I started trying to save family pictures.

As the renovation crew started to finish, we had to go to their warehouse and let them help us determine what could be saved and what could not regarding our furniture and personal possessions. That was difficult. Water is very damaging to anything it touches for any period of time. We lost a lot but we were able to save some too. We were able to replace the big things – appliances, for example. The wood furniture – some of it we could save but all of it had to be refinished as the humidity caused the finish to slide right off of it. Most upholstered furniture was ruined.

Finally, our move in date came. The renovation company hauled everything back. Then, we had the job of sorting through our possessions, assessing damage, tossing what couldn’t be saved. But, we could live in our house once again.

That was a year ago. It’s now the summer of 2016 and this happened in the summer of 2015. We moved back in during the latter part of September 2015. Our house is not the same. For awhile, it definitely didn’t feel like home to me. I’m getting more used to it now. It really is an entirely new house on the inside.

Gentle Readers, please allow me to give you one piece of advice that I wish someone had given me. If you leave your home for very long, turn your water off at the road. At  your water meter. That is the only safe thing to do and, if a water line would break inside your home, it will keep a flood from happening. You don’t want what happened to me to happen to you.

*Photo courtesy of Rosemary Carlson copyright 2016

Time to Rebuild

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Time to Rebuild, Part I

When I walked into my house, after shoving in the door, I knew we would have to rebuild. The entire inside of the house. It was destroyed. It was such a shock that I was shaking and felt I had to sit down, but there was nowhere to sit. The furniture was knocked over and wet. I couldn’t even sit on the floor. It was wet but not only that. The hardwood was raised up. The water had caused it to move and stack itself up in piles. It was the most unbelievable thing I had ever seen. The power of water. The power of a flood. The necessity to rebuild the entire interior of a house due to a flood.

This is what happened to me and my family last summer, the summer of 2015. We had been on vacation. Traveling around New England in our RV. We were planning to be gone for six weeks and had gotten as far as Cape Cod. We were planning to go as far as northern Maine before heading south again. We had so enjoyed the southern coast of Connecticut on Long Island Sound. We had actually enjoyed the entire state of Connecticut. The beautiful Cape Cod houses in their traditional New England colors. The campus of Yale. The mansions along the Rhode Island coast. The Mystic harbor and the old ships. On the way north, we had seen so much in Maryland and Pennsylvania — become familiar with those two states beautiful states. America is really a wonderful, gorgeous place.

When we got the call about the flood in our home, we were, of all places, on a large boat off the shore of Plymouth, Massachusetts on a whale-watching tour. My cell phone rang. I wish now I had not answered it but finished the tour instead. But answer it I did and heard what no one on vacation ever wants to hear. My neighbor said, “Rosemary, I have bad news.”

A pipe had burst under a sink in my kitchen. My neighbor had noticed water running out of my house — a sure sign of something being wrong. He had a key and walked in to check. He didn’t really walk in. He shoved his way in as he couldn’t open the door because the floor being pushed up blocked it. Water was everywhere. Even standing in the drawers of the cabinetry in the kitchen. He and another neighbor looked through the house. The water had knocked over furniture, ruined the floors, and they actually couldn’t tell all the damage that had been wrought. They  just knew it was bad. Very bad. So, my neighbor made that phone call.

The eighteen hour trip home in an RV over the Allegheny Mountains was the longest trip of my life. We hardly talked. We hardly stopped — only for gas and to eat. Neither of us could really eat. We just snacked. When we got home and pulled the RV into the driveway, we just sat there for a few minutes. We knew there wasn’t much use to hurry. We didn’t know when the water pipe had burst, but we got the call about the flood 3.5 weeks into our trip. Later, much later, the insurance adjuster told us that it probably burst quite soon after we left based on our water bill and the damage done to our home.

So we took a deep breath, got out of the RV, and started toward the house. I had the house built myself, at that time it had been 17 years. I had put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into my home. I couldn’t imagine that the inside was destroyed. We opened the door. #flooding #amwriting #writing #blogging

Stay turned for Time to Rebuild, Part 2.