Friday, June 13, 2008

Decluttering by Flood-Part One

With that title, I don't want to make light of losses by flood - we were in one in 1993, in which we waded out of our apartment and never went back there to live. In comparison to the devastating losses I'm seeing in our community right now, our material losses were minimal. But the experience was traumatic enough for me to be able to feel that I have a pretty good idea of what one feels when the water rises inexorably and goes where it wants to go and takes away what it wants to take.

We had 7 inches of rain here in Terre Haute last Friday night/Saturday morning. I awoke to a reverse 911 call telling me the county was in a State of Emergency, all roads closed, and that we were to stay home. I went to look down in the basement and saw the damp sheen of a layer of water on the floor, headed towards the drain/sump pump.

It was never anything measurable in my basement. I spent some five hours on and off with a 5 gallon shop vac, filling and emptying it some 10 times. As the rain stopped, the results of my efforts began to show as spots here and there stayed dry. This wasn't flood water in my basement. This was an incursion of rain water through the ground and foundation, something that happened when rain was particularly heavy, though it happened much less once we replaced our gutters with extra-wide ones. There were certain vulnerable spots where I keep spill pillows - 4 foot snake-like tubes filled with a material that will absorb a gallon of water.

This event, however, overcame the gutters, the snakes, and left me with a very cluttered basement to dry - a task I'm doing with Roy, and my de-humidifier, bleach water and Lysol. Luckily, most shelving and bins are up on small blocks of 2X4's.

Sometime during the day on Saturday I realized that I was going to face a bigger problem. I was hearing that the whole area was heavily flooded where I have two storage units. One was full of books and a few personal things. The other was the unit where everything was stored of my mother's from her home in Florida and trailer in North Carolina.

I had just been out there the week before, beginning the task of sorting through. There was a stunning amount of paper - family history items going back to the 1800s, photographs, letters, documents, and a vast amount of my mother's files and writing. The trilogy of novels which my father was writing were also in there.

It was Monday before was able to get through to the road the storage facility was on. The road was clear, but....

....this is as close as I could get to the units:

I thought I could see that the whole door to Mom's unit was visible, but watermarks on the buildings showed that it had been 3-4 feet high along the walls.

I went back home, to work on the basement. As we moved things and cleaned, I began to fill boxes with things to go to Freecycle or Goodwill. I kept trying not to think of the losses in the storage units, but trying to find a way to think about it that would create a positive result.

The week before, I had been truly stressed at the volume of Stuff that I was going to have to deal with. I did not want to bring it to my home for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the respiratory problems that old paper gives me. All this was stored improperly for decades, in a garage in South Florida. It was laden with the leavings of a variety of paper-munching insects.

The task of sorting and properly perserving this treasure trove of family history seemed a monumental task which I wasn't sure I even wanted to try. And certainly, I'd need to find a place to do it. There was no way I could work through the summer heat right at the storage unit.

Well, one thing the flood had done was to give me the answer to that dilemma. Right after I took the picture above, I went to rent another storage unit. I knew that I'd need some place to take anything I could salvage. This unit is indoors, climate-controlled. It's where I have Patrick's things stored. It stayed dry and safe during this flood.

Roy and I were able to get into the units yesterday. And that will be Part Two of this saga.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh boy. :(

I guess it's like they always say, "it could have been worse," but that ain't much consolation. You deserve a break, 'Zann!


10:25 AM, June 13, 2008  
Blogger Barbara H. said...

My heart is breaking for you, because of the possible loss of family history and photos. Some stuff can be replaced; other stuff cannot. I'm so sorry. I have a storage unit, and fire and flooding are my biggest fears. Sending you big hugs.....

12:44 PM, June 13, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear, I was wondering how you fared. Lovely pic of your grandfather and he does look a bit like JL.

thinking of you,


1:42 AM, July 01, 2008  
Blogger tiger said...


3:33 PM, April 04, 2010  

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