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Rebuilding September 28, 2009

Posted by markgeil in Philosophical musings.

Most of the flood waters have receded and clean up is well underway. We had more rain Saturday, and the ground is obviously still completely saturated as the rain puddled up right away. Our phones are back, after a simple fix from our friend Jeff. I feel like a doofus being without phones for 5 days because I didn’t know enough to just unplug every phone in the house. Turns out the lightning fried one of the cordless sets, and that phone was taking down the whole line.  Anyway, hooray for an easy and inexpensive fix, even if I’m a doofus. The new TV box is supposed to arrive today, and Amy bought new phones Saturday. All the while, I’ve been doing FEMA paperwork and tearing apart the front of the house.

Most of the rain came in through the front wall, and once I started chipping away with a hammer and screwdriver it became obvious where the main leak was. What struck me was just how wet all the wood still was. Like, drops of water coming out of the wood inside our wall, seven days after the main storm. I pulled the insulation out and tossed it to the walkway below, and a stream of water started flowing into the yard. Gross. I disconnected the outside light above the door and then started trying to pry off some plywood so I could see the extent of the damage. You know the saying about “the right tool for the job”? I was ill-equipped. I did what I could with claw hammers and chisels and screwdrivers, then went to Home Depot to get new plywood, treated lumber, and a 36 inch pry bar! I got back and had the board off in 30 seconds. Hooray for the right tool.

I found the space where the water had managed to travel from above door all the way down to the basement, and saw more wet and rotting wood than I wanted to see. I knew of one board that needed to be completely replaced, but now I see two or three others, and I think these might be beyond the purely cosmetic sorts of boards. I called my buddy Bob who is a general contractor, and he’s coming by this afternoon to let me know if I just need to make the simple repairs I was hoping to make or if the house is falling down.

I left our dehumidifier running for two days in the basement and it feels as dry as British humor down there now. Next comes hardwood floor replacement (ugh), garage door opener replacement, and TV repair. All the while, I have a weird sort of survivor’s guilt going on. People have lost so much, and the things I’m replacing all seem like such luxuries in the grand scheme of things. I’m humbled that I even have a garage and televisions and a pretty window above the door. I’ll be less humbled if that window falls on my head, by the way. To add to the strange feelings, our new next door neighbors have moved in and are tricking out the place like they’re going to be on MTV Cribs. I’m prying off the front of my house and they’re filling a new hot tub.

I am keenly aware of the beauty of simplicity. I am also aware of how much stuff I have, and I try hard to be grateful for it, and I know that most of it is not necessary. But standing there Sunday on my old wooden step ladder (on that step where it says “Don’t step here or you will fall and die”), thinking about the flood and how others have it so much worse, and watching the drywall and electrical guys finish the new theater next door, I had the oddest combination of feelings: thanksgiving for what I have, jealousy for what I don’t have, and remorse for having too much.

Since I don’t really know what to feel, I will keep plugging away, fixing wood and spreading mulch and cleaning up. Nothing like manual labor to keep the mind occupied.



1. Savannah - October 17, 2009

Awesome blog!

I thought about starting my own blog too but I’m just too lazy so, I guess I’ll just have to keep checking yours out. LOL,

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