Last Monday, around 2:30 in the morning, our cat Tista bounded onto the bed with rather more force than usual, waking us slightly. The One And Only reached down to the floor to put on his glasses. A moment later he turned to me.

"Sweetie? Our house is under water."

The bathroom, with water already receding - it was a few inches higher than this, but it took me a while to realize I should probably take a picture, at least for the insurance.

I don't think I've ever woken up faster. We both raced around the house, getting our feet and legs wet and figuring out that yes, all the rooms in our house were under somewhere between 4 and 6 inches of water. I ran around getting stuff off the ground and low-hanging things like my wedding dress to safety. Plus, someone had to save Zora, who was sitting on a bookshelf and meowing more heartbreakingly than I've ever heard, apparently convinced we had left her there to die surrounded by six inches of water. (When you're as scared of everything as she is, six inches of water is terrifying.)

After the first panic, we stopped to consider the problem. What should we do? Could we get the water out? Well... no. I tried opening the door, figuring we could kind of sweep water out that way. Except - oops. There was way more water outside than inside, and until I got the door shut again, it looked like those scenes in Titanic where they open a hatch and all this water gushes toward them.

This is the bedroom under water, complete with floating cat food. (The aftermath of that was particularly gross.)

As it turned out, there was nothing we could do except wait. The water gradually receded - houses are more porous than I thought - and we cleared most of the rest out when we ripped out the wet carpets and the wet-vac sucked the remaining water off the floor.

Soggy carpet padding and remnants of water in the bedroom. Consider yourself lucky this isn't scratch 'n' sniff.

When I called the insurance company to make a claim, the idiot I first talked to said, "Don't touch anything until the adjuster gets there!" Great advice, buddy. Because the best thing to do after a flood is to leave rotting carpet in your house and make yourself sick with mold allergies and general gunky smell. Especially because the adjuster has been taking his own sweet, sweet time in getting here. (It's been a over a week and we've yet to see him. I am, in fact, beginning to doubt his existence.) Thankfully the person I talked to two days later was much more helpful and told us that yes, we could definitely remove carpets, and since contents aren't covered anyway, just the structure, we could do whatever we wanted with damaged items.

That red line of color is the impression left by a library book. The damaged library books - more specifically, how much the library will charge us for them - is one of our biggest worries after the structural issues.

And there is a lot of structural damage that needs taking care of. The hardwood floors that The One And Only's parents put in themselves, which they put so much work into and which looked so fabulous - they're buckling. Badly. Badly enough, in fact, that we can no longer open the front door - it jams on one of the floor's brand spankin' new bulges. The carpets are mostly out now, after several days of "vacation" spent ripping them out - they're in the carport, because of course we can't get rid of them because the insurance needs to see them, so now our carport smells like rot, but at least the house mostly doesn't anymore. The tiles - asbestos tiles, fun fun - that are underneath all the floors in our house also need to go, but we'll let the professionals handle that.

It's a book party! In the back yard!

Of course, we don't have anywhere to store things as we're clearing out rooms, because all the rooms need to be cleared. So our books - those that survived - are out in plastic boxes in the back yard. Or, alternately, drying out on the deck. Our insurance company suggested that we put all our furniture in the yard too. And, apparently, keep it there for a week while they eventually get around to us? I love our insurance company, both for the brilliant advice and for the fact that no one I need to talk to is ever at their desk. That's always a good sign.

Three sets of neighbors have moved out because of the flooding. Their houses were so badly damaged that not only the floors, but also the drywall needs replacing. Since they were renting, they can pick up and go. We're stuck here, clearing out carpets and wondering just how long this all is gonna take to fix - which we won't know until at minimum the adjuster's been here and told us what needs to be done and what insurance will cover. Did I mention he hasn't been here yet?

Note the water line on the door and outer wall there.

The flood was powerful enough to knock a 40-lb bag of kitty litter from our carport clear to the back fence, which is at least 60 feet. It would've gone further if the fence hadn't stopped it. Various and sundry other items (cooler, recycling bin and contents, etc) were cleared out of the carport as well and deposited at random in our back yard. The water marks on our house attest to the fact that our house did keep at least some of the water out, as the outside water mark is at about 8 to 10 inches.

Here's what makes it difficult to clean up, among other things - all the crud that comes with the flood water. (And by that I don't mean the detergent that's usually standing in our kitchen, or the shoes and socks that drifted in from other rooms, but the enormous amount of dirt on the floor.)

So, we're picking up and trying to move on, waiting for the adjuster, clearing out our house (and it's hard to find a place to store things when the floors in the entirety of the house need to be ripped out - for now, it's the back yard), and doing what we can to stave off further damage. It's yet another delay in my dissertation writing, and while my directors are very understanding about this crisis, it's frustrating the hell out of me.

That's about it for now; I've got more books to put in boxes so I can take out my desk and get it to start drying, and fans to move out to the Love Shack to speed the process...

Well, at least I can say I had a room of my own...



30. November 2004


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