My Flood Disaster is Almost Over–I Hope

Bookshelves in progress, accompanied by a “Sex and the City” marathon.

I now have new respect and sympathy for people whose entire houses get flooded by hurricanes, overflowing rivers, tsunamis, burst dams or whatever. I only had one room get soaked, and it has taken almost two months to begin to recover. I never saw this coming.

I woke up on Aug. 20 to discover water all over my laundry room. My 12-year-old water heater had died in the night, and water was pouring out the bottom. Phooey. But the laundry room, formerly part of the garage, was never completely finished. Once I mopped the water off the concrete floor and got a new water heater, I figured my troubles were over.

But no. The next night, I was on the phone with a friend when I happened to walk barefoot through my den, also formerly part of the garage. The carpet was soaked. Major curse words flew out of my mouth. I have already blogged about the details of all this ad nauseum. The short version: I spent a day trying to sop up the water with minimal success as the stench of wet carpet padding, wood and sheetrock permeated the house. The next day, I followed my father’s advice and called the insurance company. Water damage workers tried to dry things out, then removed my entire carpet and my four six-foot tall bookshelves. They also chopped a soggy section out of my wall. Over the weeks that followed, I had many visits from various professionals, interspersed with long periods of waiting.

Everything from that room, including hundreds of books, all of my clothes and a host of photos and knick-knacks, is spread through the rest of the house. But now it’s almost over. The wall is patched and painted, I finished putting together the last bookshelf last night, and the carpet is due to be installed on Wednesday. Emerald cut, rust-colored Spanish tile instead of the silly white Berber that used to be there. It will all turn out to be an expensive blessing, I’m sure.

Having been surrounded by my possessions all this time, I’m not so fond of them anymore. And I realize that when the flood hits, everything that gets wet becomes worthless. I will reconsider every item that I put back in that room. Do I really need so much stuff? Don’t answer that. I know what you’ll say.

Meanwhile, yesterday I noticed the roof is leaking in the laundry room. Just a little.

Lessons from the Storms

What a crazy time we’ve had here on the Oregon Coast. Over the last week, we’ve been blanketed with snow, pummeled by wind, and drowned with rain. We’ve had power failures, trees down, closed roads and flooding. Highway 101 just north of where I live has a big chunk out of it where the land slid out from underneath it. Every trip to Newport is fraught with the worry about whether we’ll be able to get back.

At one point, all the roads east were closed, along with the Yaquina Bridge where the wind threw a semi into a pickup truck. I wondered how that could possibly happen until I tried to drive home from church yesterday. I feared that any second, the wind would have its way with my car.

Meanwhile, the creeks have turned into rivers, and the rivers have turned into lakes. Today, on a rare storm-free day, people are returning to flooded houses to see what they have left. We definitely got paid back for all the clear days we had in December, and the storms aren’t over. Rain and wind are expected to return tomorrow. Everybody’s talking about the weather. Conversations often conclude with, “Well, that’s life on the Oregon coast.”

It can be a challenge living here, but we certainly appreciate our sunny days. Meanwhile, I’ve learned a few lessons from the crazy weather. Here are just a few:

1) If you don’t buy rainboots, you’ll always have wet feet. They don’t have to be cute, just waterproof.
2) Don’t let the gas tank or the refrigerator go empty, and stock up on toilet paper. You might not be able to drive to the store.
3) Water and electricity are not guaranteed.
4) Find that old camp stove and figure out how to work it.
5) Keep at least one old-style phone that works without electricity.
6) If the sun appears, run outside and pay homage.
7) If you won’t go outside in the rain, the dog won’t either.
8) The best coastal hairdo is a hat.
9) All plans are tentative.
10) Get a boat. 

What have you learned with this winter’s weather?

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