The picture used for Lynn’s Tuesday Picture Prompt sends out a lot of bad vibes for anyone living nearby.  Flooding is something I’ve never experienced exactly as shown in the picture, but I have had flood damage from broken water lines.  Here is my take on the picture.

 

As I said, I don’t know first hand what it’s like to live near a body of water that can overflow its banks as this picture shows.  I have seen flooding in sections of my hometown in Ohio.  I have helped people in such situations as a first responder, so I know part of the fear one might have, having lived through such a disaster.  The damage is extensive no matter how you look at it.  

I’ve seen people have to completely strip their homes of carpet, furniture, all sorts of belongings just to clean out the debris left behind.  Nothing is untouched.  What is left behind is soaked drywall, soaked flooring, and all sorts of strange “stuff” that was floating in the water.  Everything is contaminated.  If the house isn’t dried out properly and quickly, hazardous mold can begin to grow making the house unliveable.

 We saw the disaster in Houston several years ago from the hurricane.  Watching that event on TV was bad enough, but I didn’t get the true sense of what those folks had ahead of them afterward until I had a flooding problem.  Enter the winter storm of 2021 this past February.

Mind you, I’m in no way comparing my problem as anything near as bad as what the good folks in Houston faced.  My problems were far less serious but they did give me some insight as to how so-called “help” is doled out to the victims.  When the storm hit, we lost power for three days.  We had no heat, no hot water during that time.  We kept warm by wearing multiple layers of clothes and using our gas fireplace 24 hours a day.  The inside temperature dropped to 40 degrees very quickly.  The only saving grace so far was we could still eat hot meals by using matches to light our gas range.

We survived that ordeal and the power came back on.  Yeah!  We thought we had dodged a bullet but it did a u-turn and got us two days later.  As the house began to warm up, our water pipes began to thaw out.  Unbeknownst to us, they had frozen in spots even though we left faucets open to keep water flowing.  Supposedly, running water doesn’t freeze.  Wanna bet?  The line behind our bathroom toilet froze and burst as it warmed up, flooding the bathroom, our bedroom, our sunroom, and part of the living room.

As the weather had improved and the ice on the roads had melted, I ran a quick couple of errands.  I was only gone about 45 minutes, but when I got home my wife was frantic telling me the house was flooded.  I quickly grabbed my shut-off tool and went to the street to shut off the water.  Uh-oh, where is the box?  It was covered with mud and I could only guess within a couple of feet where it was.

My mind was racing trying to dig out the box, knowing the longer it took me to shut off the water, the more damage it would cause.  My house sits at the bottom of a hill.  When it was built, the general contractor and builder in the tract did a piss poor job of mitigating run-off water.  As things are now, I get ALL of the run-offs from my uphill neighbors when it rains, when the snow melts, whenever a bird gets the hic-ups.  At times I have so much water it pools on the downhill slope of my front yard!  It has no place to go.

After getting the water turned off, I went back inside to look at the damage.  We had standing water in our bedroom, bathroom, and hallway to the living room.  In the bathroom, it was over an inch deep.  That’s not much compared to the Houston flood, but it does just as much damage.  I looked at it and my heart sank.  How in the hell am I going to get rid of it?  What all has it damaged?  Should I take pictures for the insurance company?  My mind was going in so many directions, I froze.  I couldn’t do anything but just stare at the mess.

When I finally woke up, I thought the only way to get rid of the water was to sweep it into the shower.  I got my wide shop push broom and began pushing it into the stall.  The more I swept, the more it felt like there was left.  It wasn’t going away very fast.  Then I realized it was also draining from the carpet in the bedroom.  I don’t know how long I pushed water, but it felt like days.  As for the carpet, I didn’t have any sort of squeegee to use on the carpet, so the push broom had to suffice.  Several more hours went by before I finally quit.  The water had won the fight.  My back ached and things were still soggy.

While I was sweeping water, my wife was trying to get things off the floor to see what got wet.  The pet beds were soaked. We had some extra framed pictures sitting in one corner waiting to be hung that got wet.  And of course, all of the bottoms of the furniture got wet.  It was just a matter of time before things would start to warp and show damage.  For now, the best we could do was move things to a safe area of the house and take tons of pictures.

Calling the insurance company began another frustrating trip.  Obviously, we weren’t the only ones with water damage from broken pipes.  There were hundreds more a lot worse off than we were.  I didn’t expect to get a plumber or contractor or anyone else within a reasonable time frame to dry things out and start reconstruction.  The insurance person put us on a waiting list for their contractors and said we would be contacted by one or more when they had an opening.  I had no intention of waiting on them and called my handyman.  Fortunately, he had an opening within two weeks and we took it.  

More importantly, we had to get the carpets dried out before they started to mildew.  We were able to get a team in for that in good time – only a few days.  The insurance folks brought in extra help from New Mexico and other states to beef up the ranks.  Local contractors were overwhelmed.  That was a bright spot.

The second bright spot was the adjustor getting a look at the damage and writing an estimate.  We found a local adjuster who was in and out in just three days.  We got our check just a few days after that and put people to work.  The water pipe still had not been fixed to this point.  I was worried it would take weeks before we had water again, and was not about to let it happen.  We found a plumber who came within two days of our call, fixed the pipes, and offered to let us fill up as many water jugs as we could haul at their shop.  The lady said it was part of their disaster service.  God bless people like those folks.

With all the repairs finished, I decided to take on the painting to save some money.  As I was setting up to get started, I got a phone call.  “Mr. Hoke?  This is so-and-so from such-and-such contractors.  We got your name from your insurance company, saying you needed help with flood repairs.  We would like to schedule your time now.”  

What??  It’s been almost six weeks since we called the insurance company.  The work is finished and I don’t need you now, thank you anyway.  If we had waited on our insurance we would have been without water for that time; without having the carpets dried out; needing a place to stay that would take two dogs and two cats.  It would have been long term inconvenience all the way around.

Putting this in perspective, my mess and frustrations were MINOR compared to those folks in Huston and other such places.  I know how frustrated and helpless I felt with just a couple of rooms flooded by only two inches of water.  Those folks had several FEET of water in their entire homes.  I can’t imagine that cleanup process and dealing with contractors, insurance companies, FEMA, and others.  They lost furniture, clothing, heirlooms, family photos, keepsakes, and appliances.  You name it, they lost it.  Years of their lives were gone.

They say you shouldn’t judge or criticize another person until you walk in their shoes.  In this case, I walked in their flip-flops enough to get a taste of what they went through.  Believe me, it wasn’t a good trip, but one I will never forget.  It has made me very appreciative of all I have, and what is important in life.  The important stuff is not the “things” sitting in our homes, it’s the love and lives of the loved ones we share them with. 

The folks in Huston rebuilt.  They went through a lot of pain doing so, but they carried on with their lives.  Knowing now what I learned from my disaster, I have a deeper understanding of what folks go through in similar situations.  Before, it was just watching a news show on TV.  Now it’s real.

#LTPP

Lynn’s Tuesday Picture Prompt – Week 48 – justabitfurther (wordpress.com)

Lynn’s Tuesday Picture Prompt – A Flood

%d bloggers like this: