Member Musings: Carole J. Greene

Member Musings features the reflections and thoughts of an NPC member

An exercise in managing stress

Carole J. Greene

I wouldn’t wish this situation on my worst enemy—if I even had one.

While I was away from my home for several hours on August 4, a water pipe burst and—with no one there to twist the main valve—had ample time to flood my entire house. A neighbor saw water gushing from under my front door and from the garage door, coursing down the driveway. She sprinted to turn off the main valve then phoned me. I left a birthday party and rushed home.

I squished my way into the house, did a cursory inspection, then grabbed my computer to find a water restoration company. On a Sunday night. I got lucky and the first number I called rang only once before someone—Anthony—answered. I explained my plight. Thirty minutes later a nice young man from this company—might as well give them a plug: it was Affordable Water Restoration; the “affordable” hooked me—showed up. Anthony quickly rounded up a crew of five to take care of the most immediate needs. He also managed to keep me calm during what was shaping up to be a complete disaster.

The team worked for the next three hours to pump and vacuum the standing water, pull up and shove into a trailer parked on the street all the saturated flooring from three rooms and closets, and remove baseboards and some drywall where the water had wicked up. The trailer overflowed. To do all this, they had to position all the furniture in the center of each room, requiring all electronics be unplugged. No TV. No internet. No phone. And no water, since it would remain turned off at the main valve until the dastardly pipe was discovered (it was under the kitchen sink, 24 inches below the slab) and repaired (September 13). Couldn’t live here—for how long remained an unknown. I rounded up my two cats, who were hiding from all the noise and bustle, and the three of us found succor at a friend’s house. 

The restoration company installed giant fans and dehumidifiers everywhere—all rooms were affected—and let them run for three full days. My electricity bill climbed by $200 (for the first day, no one thought to turn off the AC while these machines upped the indoor temperature to 105 degrees!) Anthony also installed a lockbox on my front door so his crew, plus insurance adjusters and contractors, could access the house if I wasn’t there. Not sure my memory would be reliable under the stress I knew would assail me, I wrote down the code.

Two insurance companies are involved: mine to cover contents, my landlord’s to cover the structure. My company performed immediately, sending two men to inspect damage to my furniture and determine whether it was worth repair or should be scrapped. They packed into 41 boxes all the stuff from the furniture pieces they took with them. They’ll repair and store my possessions until construction concludes. They’ve already been paid. Thank you, Allstate.

Somewhere in those 41 boxes are lots of items I wish I’d had the foresight to hang onto. As I write this on September 19, I estimate I won’t see any of them for at least a couple more months.

My landlord is still reviewing contractors’ bids and negotiating with his insurance company. He hopes construction can start in a week or so. Both contractors say their work will take many weeks. Sigh.

Not wanting to overstay my welcome at a friend’s home, the cats and I now live in a hotel. It’s not quite home, but at least I have TV, internet, complimentary breakfast and all the water I could want. I’m running up a bill that I hope one or the other or both insurance policies will cover.

Next time you see me, I could use a hug.

Leave a Reply