Not Martha

what I’ve learned so far from having a flooded house

About 24 hours after I got back from my trip to New York I was standing under streams of water coming from the ceiling of my sewing studio. The water was there because our hot water heater had failed rather dramatically, and the water was in streams because the flood control guy had poked a few dozen holes in the ceiling to let the water out. Our poor house with it’s surprisingly watertight foundation had been flooded from the inside. (Dramatic music queue here.) I got to make a phone call to a plumbing service where I actually opened by saying “Hello, I am having a plumbing emergency!” Happily the guy on the other end was way more in control than I was and talked me through the process of turning off the water to where it was leaking from.

As I type this all of our stuff is has been migrated into areas of the house that managed to avoid the deluge. I cannot get to my television or the computer that holds most of my files, or to the window for that reason. Our bathroom sink is on the back porch. Startlingly large portions of our Pergo is in a trash dump somewhere. The picture above is the view over my laptop looking at the contents of my office closet that are currently in hoarder-like piles in the dining room. Industrial strength dehumidifiers, blowers (they look like giant hair dryers) and heaters are chugging away for three to seven days to dry out all the soaked bits of wood and drywall that I now know what look like from the inside. Our living room carpet ripples like water when you walk over it since it’s lifted by a cushion of hot air. Our office and bathroom are currently 125 degrees to dry out the layers of wood beneath the flooring. We have these many yellow tubes delivering hot dry air into the space above the ceiling and it looks incredibly creepy. If I could keep this around through Halloween I’d totally throw a party in this room.

But you know what? It could have been so much worse and we’ve kept in perspective. Drinking has certainly been involved. So far we’ve paired initial shock with tequila, waiting for the asbestos test with beers and the presence of giant heaters with chilled white wine on the deck. I’ve slept really well because we have white noise machines running on both floors of our house. It’s surprisingly exhausting having work people tinker around your house all day, waiting for this company to do X so that they can do Y. The other night we decided it was very late and we started getting ready for bed only to find it was 9:30 at night.

Here are a few things I’ve learned, or at least think I’ve learned, from this experience:

  • Tradespeople will try to help you if they can since they’ve seen this many times before, but there are limits to what they’re allowed to outright tell you. If they seem to be speaking carefully or in a code it’s because they are, so listen closely. One of our guys actually had to ask me the same question three times with his straight man comedy timing intact before I figured out what he was trying to communicate. (He was also a ringer for Paul Blackthorne and I expected he would pull out a hockey stock/wizard staff at any moment.)
  • Your homeowners insurance might cover the extra electricity used by all the machines that are drying out your house. Both our flood guy and our insurance lady let us know about this. Which is good because it’s taking a lot of power. As in, we turned on a fan the other day and our lights dipped. We had to unplug the stove (yay for the excuse to get take out!) to allow access to our only 220 outlet for the big heaters.
  • Don’t be afraid to push for more aesthetically pleasing solutions. Because I insisted that an overflow pipe run through the back wall of a closet instead of through the closet itself the flood guy was able to have a good view of what was going on with the flooring under our tub, and as a result we might not have to rip up a large portion of our bathroom floor to see under there. Also, resale value is a very legit argument. Also, nothing the previous homeowners had done will make any sense, brace yourselves.
  • You will suddenly become unsentimental. I have so much stuff! Where did this stuff come from? I think if I had a removal company come take it all away I wouldn’t miss it. Or much of it. I am seriously considering a move to minimalist after this. Or maybe just ruthless. We’ll see.

And so, wise and experienced people, have you had a big and inconvenient house disaster? What did you learn from it? School the rest of us so that we will be prepared!

· comments [46] · 09-16-2011 · categories:the home ·

46 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Melissa // Sep 16, 2011 at 11:49 am

    First off – yay for the Dresden reference.

    Second off – you are handling this like a New Orleanean. When people asked us (New Orleaneans) what to do for Irene we told them to board up windows, stock up on alcohol and throw a hurricane party. Trying to find the fun/good in the bad makes dealing with unforeseen events much easier and less stressful.

    Good luck with the remodel, and use it as an excuse to make it better than it was!

  • 2 Elaine // Sep 16, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I’ve learned 3 good things: 1.home related emergencies will happen and feel devastating, and later you will tell the story with a rueful smile, not tears. 2. It costs more to have work done in an emergency than to have it done to prevent an emergency. The sister of the tree that was $900 to pull off the house was only $200 to pull out of the backyard. 3. A membership to Angie’s List is a good deal, and will help you sleep at night when you have to pick someone to do something – anything – to your home.

  • 3 Nadinejune // Sep 16, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Well now that you mention it….I’ve had one. One that moved my family of 7 to a 2 bedroom condo 30 miles out of town….while they “built” the decontamination unit!! I too……soon thought about the fact that I could just do with out all of it in the little condo……I learned to write down everyones name wether a good conversation or a bad…to keep ALL receipts and most of all to act in my houses interest since it couldn’t and remind them all that time was of the essence!! In the end I moved back before it was done to a dirt floor kitchen and some plywood to set the tables on a microwave and a laundry room sink set up by the blessed plumber….it was a very eye opening experience….the comforts of “home” are so comforting!! Also a fear of water has taken over…whole new meaning to flooding!! LOL Goodluck and when its all done it feels soooo good! ps. love your blog just found it yesterday!! Best of Luck and Speedy Construction thoughts coming your way!!

  • 4 Rebecca // Sep 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    My parents house just flooded. Twice. In the space of two days. From different parts of the house…so when we had just thought one half of the house was safe…48 hours later another totally unrelated leak sprung. And this is a new house too so I basically think there is a poltergeist involved. I just wanted to tell you that I know your pain and during any hair pulling moments you may have you are not alone! Good luck!!!

  • 5 karen l // Sep 16, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    We too had an inside flood (leak in water softener unattended for 2 weeks!)
    What I learned: Take lots of pictures of the fans and dehumidifiers, the walls where sheetrock was removed, bare floors, etc., to document the process. We sold the house less than a year after the disaster, so were able to assure any potential home buyers that the rehab was done properly.
    Listen to your insurance agent – they referred us to a restoration company that had the whole job completed (new sheetrock, paint, new carpet, new pergo) exactly 3 weeks from my initial call (I might have said “I have an emergency” as well!) Have another margarita – it’s as good as a pain pill.

  • 6 Chandra // Sep 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Ugh. Just wrapped up a similar scene at my house with an upstairs toilet that overflowed into our downstairs basement. Those dryers bring back memories (not good ones). It took 2 mths to get everything back in order. The water damage didn’t seem like a big deal but the walls/ceilings really hide it well. All the walls and ceilings had to be removed. Oh, and we tested positive for asbestos. I’m on the other end of the disaster and while we were able to upgrade a few things as we patched our house back together…man, I wish I took up drinking during the process. I wish you a quick and speedy house recovery.

  • 7 erica // Sep 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I’m so sorry. The same thing happened to us, except we walked in the front door after driving 8 hours home from vacation—only to hear water running in the house. Luckily we’d come home early, otherwise our ceilings would have collapsed. Best of luck to you—and get your own contractor, not the one the insurance company suggests. Also get other estimates for how much the repairs will cost. The insurance company will under-estimate.

  • 8 Katy // Sep 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Sorry you’re going through this! I second the Angie’s List recommendation, and also wanted to say that all the tubes totally remind me of Brazil –

  • 9 Sarah // Sep 16, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Ugh! So sorry for your drama. We had a huge tree branch fall on our roof last summer, approximately TWELVE HOURS after we just finished putting up the last of the kitchen cabinets and declared our kitchen reno to be 90% done.

    Insurance company: “How old was the roof?”
    Boyfriend:”Uh, 2 months old?”
    Insurance company: “Two MONTHS?”

    After this summer’s renovations and a good portion of my junk sitting in storage for the past few months (and me not missing much of it) I’m also seriously considering adopting a more minimalist lifestyle once we get everything put back together :)

  • 10 Teresa Coates // Sep 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    In February this year, we found a great deal of black (and brown and mustard yellow and grey) mold in the walls and floor of my son’s bedroom. Suddenly his extended illness over the winter made sense and as the contractors tore into the walls, we realized we couldn’t stay. So within a half hour, my two kids and I packed up a few sets of clothes and necessities and fled the house.

    We returned three months later after a series of rather unfortunate events kept the work (including those phone dehumidifiers) from being done quickly.

    What did I learn? Good and patient friends are to be treasured forever. Without the two families who put us up for those months, I don’t know what would have happened. I say thank you often. I also learned to live with barely anything while we were away and how to get rid of many things because they’d been poisoned by the mold.

    Maybe most importantly, I learned to listen to my children… my son who thought the room was making him sick and my daughter who couldn’t stop wondering why the floor was wet so often.

  • 11 sr // Sep 16, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    To the slimming down the house, I somehow find myself moving all the time (symptomatic of international work) and find I have adopted two habits as a result:
    1. Before I buy anything, I think, “Hmm, when (not if) I move, I’m going to need to move with this item. If I don’t do that, I’ll need to donate, sell, give, or toss. Is x item worth the move, will it have resale value, or is it worth the value and trouble of all my options?” Most times the answer is no, and I borrow or do without (P.S. my Soda Stream made the cut!).
    2. If I find I have six to twelve months without a move (rare), I make a point of going through EVERYTHING I own, right down to the last pencil, and tossing/selling/donating/etc what I wouldn’t pack if I were moving and needed to leave in 24 hours. As a result my last move took a total of four hours, including the search for packing materials.

  • 12 Beth // Sep 16, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    “Tradespeople will try to help you if they can since they’ve seen this many times before, but there are limits to what they’re allowed to outright tell you.”

    This is so true!

    Awesome Furnace Guy: “Wow, it’s too bad that the asbestos on this pipe extends to this point.”
    Husband: “?”
    A.F.G.: “Yup. Too bad that the “asbestos mitigator” didn’t remove enough asbestos from this pipe. Say, up to this junction here?”
    Husband: (also known as “asbestos mitigator”) “???”
    A.F.G.: “Yup. I feel a sudden need to go do some paperwork in my truck for… an hour?”
    Husband: “!!!” (grabs respirator, squirt bottle, gets to work)

  • 13 Jennifer O. // Sep 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    The ad for dark chocolate underneath your post seems very appropriate. Also, I love the creepy first picture – it looks like your house is part of the Borg.

  • 14 Hillary // Sep 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I recently moved out of an apartment due to incredible leaking problems. I learned a lot about taking the word of the experts. When the roofing guy came over the first time, he bluntly said to me “You need to move out. Now.” He then explained how the roof was cracked down the middle and that he told my landlord repeatedly they needed to replace the thing but she was unwilling to pay for it. Within a month or two my ceiling started to collapse, when it rained the place sounded like a fountain, and the roofing guy refused to put a band-aid on a wound and quit. Tradespeople may come off blunt or crazy but they sure know what they’re doing and are proud of it. Best to pay and get out of the way.

  • 15 Amanda C // Sep 16, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Really sorry to hear you are going through this!

    I like your description of what it is like to have multiple tradespeople in your home. I’m an (institutional) construction project manager, so I know what its like to have tradespeople all over the place, doing all kinds of things, asking all kinds of questions. Though they aren’t in my home, I can only imagine what that would feel like. When we’re renovating a space that is going to be occupied by the same occupants before and after the renovations, I try to put myself in their shoes, thinking “what if this was my workplace?”, since most people spend a good chunk of time at work, it’s almost like home.

    At work we recently had a major flood caused by a water main breaking and pouring down the hill we’re on. Sadly it flooded a good part of a library (who ever decided to put the archives in the basement?), and so we have the institutional version of a dry-out going on. You should see the size of those fans!

  • 16 Lisa // Sep 16, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    First, I’m sorry this happened, it sucks. Second, and my main reason for commenting, that tube picture totally gave me the heebie-jeebies when I first looked at it. Then I laughed when I saw you thought it was creepy. :)

  • 17 Kitty // Sep 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    OMG. that.. sucks.
    However. it could.
    have been..

  • 18 Francie // Sep 16, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    My condolences. Nothing like a major house disaster. We had a humungous tree fall on our house two years ago. Not cool.

    Basically what I learned is don’t take the insurance company’s first offer, because it isn’t going to be enough to repair the damage.

    Also, unrelated to the tree, but possibly helpful, tankless hot water heaters are awesome. We replaced our old tanked heater right after the tree incident since it looked like it was heading for a meltdown/water disaster. We have saved a ton on our water bill and the gas bill. It was more expensive to install, and a bit more than a standard water heater, but I think that we have more than made up the difference in the last two years.

  • 19 Lou // Sep 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    We have had a few leaking and flooding events. We now turn off our water whenever we go away overnight regardless of how long we are going to be gone. Water can do a lot of damage not to mention potentially causing a mold problem.

  • 20 Jeri // Sep 16, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Sorry to hear that this has happened to you, what a mess!
    This is EXACTLY the scenario I envisioned when we had our single story house remodeled and the architect placed the hot water heater in the attic. We requested a HUGE oversized catch pan beneath it with a drain snaked to the outside, as well as a device, a “WAGS” valve that sits in the pan and automatically shuts the water supply off when it senses water in the pan.
    Pricey, yes, and it has shut off the water for no apparent reason once, but it seems to be working as a sure fire guarantee that my water heater will NEVER leak!

  • 21 Kayla // Sep 16, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    I feel your pain.

    My Sophomore year of high school our dishwasher somehow disconnected from the wall and flooded about 2/3 of the ground floor of our house. We had the fans and we had to live in a hotel for a week while they were sanding down and refinishing the wood floors. While we were in the hotel our car got broken into in the parking lot. Luckily they only stole my mom’s cds (a blessing in disguise for me. Oh how I hate schmaltzy jazz) and left the $5,000+ of musical instruments there.

    We sold the house a year later and were very careful to disclose everything that had happened, had the buyer sign a thing saying we had disclosed everything, etc.

    about 6 months later my mom gets served with papers saying the new owner is suing us because the wood floors are now rippling. Our realtor went over to the old house and could see no rippling whatsoever, but the guy insisted it go to small claims court. The judge took one look at pictures of the floors and the thing the guy signed saying he knew there had been a flood and scolded him for wasting everyone’s time. Of course he refused to pay the court fees and we still have a lien on the house for like, $300. We later found out the guy had been on Judge Judy-type shows multiple times and had never won. What a dick.

  • 22 megan // Sep 16, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Thank you so much everybody for the awesome advice and for the sympathy! We are very lucky it wasn’t worse, opening up the walls didn’t reveal any horrible surprises. I think I’ll take “majorly inconvenient” and make the best of it.

    Kitty – Oh man! That video. I’m so glad I know exactly what is going on with our new water heater :)

  • 23 Sue Smith // Sep 16, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I can sympathize we had a flood but in our basement. I know what you mean by the blowers. Lucky ours were in the basement and I could close that door. It cut down some what on the noise and our bedrooms are upstairs. Silence is golden when they turn those things off.

  • 24 Megan // Sep 16, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Oh Megan, I’m so sorry! We recently had a water leak in our house too, although not nearly as dramatic as yours. I learned where the water shut-off to the house. Why didn’t I know that? But we just kept saying, “It could have been so much worse! What if I hadn’t been home when this happened?” And then bought more drinks.
    Good luck!

  • 25 Karan // Sep 16, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I like the yellow tube monster…it looks like a tree. I’m thinking I’d even build one floor to ceiling with the same sorts of lines and call it art!

  • 26 melissa // Sep 16, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Ah, those blowers…a few years back we had a flooded basement. One of those perfect storm situations – the house was newly built (finished in Feb., in MN), and the final grade hadn’t been put on the landscaping, so the snow melt stayed mostly puddled by the foundations. In addition, the sump pump drainage point just dumped the water back by the foundation (in a different spot), and then the sump pump broke, due to residue in the pipes.

    We had blowers going for a couple days, but fortunately, only needed new carpet pads. And, because the house was just finished and flooded because of the lack of grading in (nonexistent) landscaping, the builder paid for all the repairs.

    Good luck!

  • 27 casey // Sep 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Sorry!! We just are completing 8 wks of dealing with a similar situation–had a small leak under the dishwasher that caused a lot of problems. We had to replace all the pergo we had in our downstairs.

    The main lessons I would share are:
    -be patient. things move slowly.
    -think about projects you have been dreaming of, this may be the time to add them into the construction mix. (we had been planning on remodeling our bathroom, and since the flooring was already having to be replaced, we decided to go ahead and demo the rest)
    -research, research, research. Angie’s list, and brands of products you are choosing. We had had Pergo for 14 yrs and had no issues. We used the flooring company insurance referred us to, and they didn’t carry Pergo. Went with their recommendation of Shaw laminate, and already, in 2 weeks have major prolems! small water damage spots, and lifting. Now a new problem to solve…..

    Hope it all goes well and very smoothly!

  • 28 Gabrielle - Design Mom // Sep 17, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Wow, Megan. I’m so impressed with how you’re handling this. You seem so calm, composed and clear thinking. I hope this will be nothing but a memory sooner than later!

  • 29 stacey // Sep 17, 2011 at 8:05 am

    We were staying with my grandparents over Christmas a few years back and their toilet malfunctioned and kept running. We woke up to five inches of water all over the house. They had those big fans too, and quarter sized holes drilled every six inches in the baseboards. It wasn’t even my house and I still wanted to toss everything I had when we got back home.

  • 30 CitricSugar // Sep 17, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Ooohhh, I’ve only had minor experience with flooding (5th floor condo, no less) but I remember how much of a pain it is. I hope it’s resolved and cleaned up quickly…

  • 31 Lilly (girlhacker) // Sep 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Oh no! In CA our washing machine area flooded right after moving into a our new house. Luckily it was the garage but there was a “bonus” room built into the garage and a lot of books were waterlogged. Luckily our real estate agent had paid for the extra “homebuyer’s warranty” because she really wanted us to have it (we had thought it was a waste of $). Sending dry thoughts your way.

  • 32 fillyjonk // Sep 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I just got water back to my house after three + days without having any. (The pipe leading up from the street broke…under the sidewalk).

    Here’s what I learned:

    1. You want to have the necessary tool to shut off the water to your house ON HAND, right where you know that it is. I didn’t know where my big crescent wrench was and I couldn’t shut down the water with the wimpy pliers I could find. I had to call the city to come shut the water off. I now have a special tool that will do that for me. (Bonus: It came with the special lever for shutting the gas off from the mains – which would have been a bigger disaster had that leaked.)

    2. Drinking water will actually be the least of your problems. I keep bottled water on hand for emergencies so I had that to drink. The biggest issue I had was dealing with dishes/pots and pans and with flushing the toilet. (For the latter, I got three, five gallon buckets and filled them up down the street at the church I belong to).

    3. Baby wipes are a good shower-replacement in an emergency. They make your skin feel less nasty and they help take away the smell (real or imagined).

    4. I have very long, very thick hair. It took an entire gallon of “spring water” just to wet my hair so I could wash it – let alone what it took to rinse out the shampoo and conditioner. I probably would have been better off just going to a beauty salon and getting a shampoo there.

    5. Don’t be afraid of air in the pipes after the water gets turned back on, that’s normal.

    6. A good plumber is worth his weight in gold. Luckily I have a good one.

    7. You’re never more grateful for things like hot showers than when you’ve had to go without them for a few days.

  • 33 Kitty // Sep 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I thought you might get a kick out of the video, do note however that all safety features of that water heater were… disabled for the purpose of *worst case scenario* Modern water heaters should have at least 3 failsafes. A good reason to inspect your appliances every so often though eh?

  • 34 Melanie // Sep 18, 2011 at 8:57 am

    About 6 years ago we had a fire. The fire damage to the house was relatively minor, but the house had to be completely rebuilt due to the water damage from putting out the fire.
    From the experience I’ve learned some important things:

    1) Most items stored in plastic bins were OK after the fire/water. Most items in cardboard boxes were not. The rubbermaid (or similar) bins may be more expensive, but cheaper then replacing, say, all the books you love and may now be out of print.
    But don’t expect that plastic bins will wholly keep out humidity or odours, so within those containers items should be in plastic bags or wrapped up in plastic or paper.

    2) Make backup scans of pre-digital-era photos. Older photo paper will absorb humidity from the air and start to distort, stick to other photos if just in a stack in a box, or will grow mould. Get to them asap for airing out and cleaning and you might save them, but if not you’ll at least have the back ups.
    Post-damage scanning is a good idea as well, as you can crop out or repair some of the damage digitally.

    3) Scan important documents. The original documents should be in plastic bags and containers with good seals.

    4) Take pictures of your whole home and document the contents. Pay particular attention to expensive furnishings, hobby and home office equipment, and collectables. Whenever you buy something new that is relatively expensive make sure to photograph it and add it to the documentation of the household contents. Your notes should include a tally of the value of the contents based on what it’d cost you to replace the item today.
    These pictures will also make it easier to restore or replace some items (in particular handmade gifts and family heirlooms, your own artwork, etc).

    5) Team up with a family member or trusted friend and keep an emergency kit at their home, or get a safe deposit box. Your kit should have a few hundred in cash (or a second card for your bank account or credit account), a thumb drive or DVDs with your scans and documentation, a who-to-contact list, and instructions for any kids or pets.

    7) Before letting the insurance company send clothing and bedding to a cleaning company you should go through it and throw out anything you never use now, and separate out machine-washable items. Everything you can wash yourself you should. 2-4 normal washings will get the smell of most things and by washing most of this stuff yourself you save thousands out of your insurance budget you can then use for replacing other items.

    8) Humidity is hard on computer equipment. Anything working now may be in the process of corroding. Back up everything ASAP to an external drive and store the drive elsewhere while the house dries out.

    9) If you decide to remodel, or do need to because of water damage or mould concerns, don’t just go with the contractor recommended by the insurance company. If you go with that guy, ask for references or to see other homes they’ve worked on. Trust me on that the only thing worse then having to rebuild due to water damage is having to get in another guy and spend more money to fix the problems left by the team the insurance company had you use.

  • 35 Maggie // Sep 18, 2011 at 11:53 am

    we had a flood on new year’s day this in our apartment from a water heater bursting in an apartment above us. luckily we were able to stay in our unit the whole time but we too had all of our belonging shoved into one room and it was difficult having to depend on the landlord/management company to fix everything and feeling like we had no control. I did use it as an excuse to clean out closets and toss some things tho! We still have some cosmetic damage to the wall that needs to fixed. Sigh. Good luck!

  • 36 mixette // Sep 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    This is going to go down as “the summer that everything went wrong” and the main thing I learned is that people will usually bend over backward to help you.

    I now keep a stack of $20 gift cards for the local taco joint to hand over with a very sincere “thank you” to the guy who came over immediately to fix the broken AC, the crew that cut down the giant tree that suddenly died and was hanging over my neighbor’s house, and the plumber who fixed the water heater…all in way over 100 degree Texas summer heat.

  • 37 ellen // Sep 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Yup, I’ve had flooding too, but it came up through the floor and insurance did not pay. If you have a good contractor treat him nice, and ask for his recommendations when you need a plumber, etc. And yes, the guys will talk to you in code and their information is gold.

  • 38 megan // Sep 18, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Gabrielle – Oh thank you! We’ve been lucky to have really wonderful people come in and work on our house and advise us on what to do next.

    And further thanks to everybody for the excellent advice and commiseration! We’re far from being finished but know it’ll be back to normal someday :)

  • 39 sarah // Sep 19, 2011 at 8:14 am

    It is so true about the previous owners! We’ve done a lot of renovations (and discovering horrible problems) and I just think the previous homeowners were on crack or something. Some of the things they’ve done was downright scary.

    Also, I’ve found that the bad things in a home happen in threes, things always take longer than you expect/want them to, and one day you will be able to look back and laugh.

  • 40 Sarah // Sep 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Best tips
    1. never store anything on the floor (the house I grew up in flooded frequently so I learned that quick)

    2. Have someone check your house every 3 days (at a minimum) if you are away. My brother didn’t check his shared house for jst over 3 days during intense cold and the toilet tanks froze, as such he has to strip the entire house (sheet rock, carpet, hardwood and kitchen) and all out of pocket as by not checking the house that often insurance turned down his claim (absence for >3 days = vacant).

  • 41 Jill // Sep 20, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    I lived in the basement of our college rental house, which flooded 3 times in the 2 years I was there. I learned to be persistant with the landlord, ended up the flooding was caused by a pool ball blocking up the drainage system!

  • 42 gfrancie // Sep 22, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    The pictures remind me of the flood we had. I wouldn’t say it made me sentimental but I laughed and thought, “I remember those!”
    I recall laughing a lot at the time because it was so insane. The assorted tradespeople said I had a really good attitude despite what was going on. I said it was either that or cry into my cheerios. I don’t like soggy cheerios.

  • 43 Sally // Sep 23, 2011 at 3:57 am

    No flood – but we had a cracked water pipe under the concrete floor in the bathroom – we knew we had leak somewhere but had to convince the insurance company. Then the various experts sent by the insurance company took weeks to find it and then even longer to repair! Lessons learnt? Experts are not always experts, choose your insurance company with care and, yes a large glass of chilled white wine helps enormously!

  • 44 Jen C // Oct 6, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Hi:) I just found your site and love it. So sorry to hear about your flood situation. We are on the East Coast and my finished basement was completely flooded during hurricane Irene – unfortunately insurance didn’t cover it. I totally agree with your 4th point. I instantly became unsentimental. Growing up poor, i have the tendency to hold on to everything that I have and I never throw things away and after the flood it made me realize how much stuff is just stuff. I was able to let almost all of it go with no problem. I allowed myself one toter of stuff from my boxes and boxes of my own baby and kids stuff from 30 years ago and my parents and grandparents stuff. Hello – my baby toys are probably riddled with chemicals and things that I don’t want my little one playing with. Its amazing how much lighter you feel when you get rid of things that you have been carrying around. Best of luck:)

  • 45 rachell // Oct 25, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Hi. I found this entry to your blog when I was looking @ your beautiful Halloween cupcakes. Go figure.

    I hope your home situation is getting back to normal. I understand what you were going through… my mom’s home in FL flooded from a broken water supply line in her kitchen. Unfortunately, she had been hospitalized @ the end of April and I went to visit the second week of May… and when I opened the door of my childhood home, I could hear this strange noise like a gushing river… and well, it was. Surreal is the only word I can think of to describe the scene. Everyone was very calm with me… plumber, insurance, service master for the clean up & tear out…everyone knew what to do except for me… and I was all by myself in my dying mom’s house having gone to hell in a hand-basket.

    My mom wound up passing away without knowing that I had to clear out her house… of all her “stuff” that she had accumulated over 81 years…she too had been poor, having come up in WWII Europe… so she saved EVERYTHING… we had to rip out walls, carpeting, pergo, anything wooden was disposed of unless it was solid wood furniture which could be repaired. The kitchen was GONE except for the appliances and cabinets on the walls. She had mold extending up the walls… in some places, they had to cut nearly 5 feet of plaster/drywall out in order to remedy it. In the less affected rooms, it was 1-2 feet of wall removed.

    As a result of all of this, I’m more easily able to get rid of “stuff”… as so much stuff was ruined and/or was given away (since I knew she was going to pass away soon). I’m in the process of thinning out my own home now of “stuff” that has little significance to us.

    In any event, it is interesting how disasters can change things for the better in some ways.

    Good luck.

  • 46 Sonya // Jan 3, 2013 at 5:36 am

    Just came home to this ordeal last night for the third time this year to 40 plus gallons of water all over my house and my dog wading in it. Luckily my house is on a slab is all I can say!

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