Monday, December 29, 2008

Here's to 2009...

I've officially given up on 2008. This year has been pretty cruddy overall - not entirely (NZ, Andy, lots of random memories...), but largely. I don't want to think about it or dwell on it anymore. I'd much rather just forget it and move on to 2009 - a.k.a. The Greatest Year of My Life.

Before I do that, though, I may as well document my latest drama - The Flooding of the Gustafson Grounds...

Last Sunday, I was happily painting away when I decided I should go downstairs to my bedroom and get my MacBook. As I was unplugging the charger, I noticed my sock was soaked. I looked around the floor, expecting to find a broken glass or a water bottle that Freddy had knocked over. When I didn't see anything, I took my sock off and smelled it thinking that the little bastard must've peed on the carpet. Nope.

At this point, both my socks were soaked with ice cold water and I was getting concerned. I put down some towels - they were immediately soaked. I put down more towels - more drenched towels...

I realized that the water had to be coming from the vacant house next door. Since the house is a foreclosure owned by HUD, I had no idea who to contact that might actually care that my house was flooding on a very cold Sunday night in December, just a few days before Christmas.

After making several frantic calls, a cop showed up at my house and confirmed that I was correct. Not sure why the city sent him since he couldn't DO anything about it...

Then, my fantastic realtor was able to track down the selling agent for the house next door and she came - and was very nice, but was also unable to do anything besides unlock the door.

And yes - I called my Homeowner's Association (everybody seemed to think I'd never think to call them and once I did, they'd rush to my rescue.) They do a very nice job mowing the lawn, plowing the snow, and making sure our trash gets collected, but they don't care at all what happens to the INTERIOR of our houses (nor do they answer on Sunday nights anyway.)

I was up all night trying to prevent as much of my stuff from getting wet as possible, switching out towels (mostly just to feel like I was doing SOMEthing...), and trying to figure out what the crud I was supposed to do.

The next morning, with my house getting increasingly wet, I called my homeowner's insurance right away and got my claim processed.

Then, some guys from the city came by and let me know that a pipe had burst in the house next door because it wasn't properly winterized. They shut the water off - which, of course, was good, but too late to make a difference. It was so cold in Minnesota that all the water was ice at this point.

After making a gazillion more calls, I went next door to check it out for myself. All the windows were frosted with ice and there were icicles hanging from the sills. Inside, there was a layer of ice about an inch thick coating the upper level floors (where our kitchens, dining rooms, and living rooms are).

I went downstairs (where our bedrooms and bathrooms are) and it was like walking in a swamp. As I stepped one the carpet, the icy water covered my shoe. The ceiling was brown and looked like it may collapse any second. There were brown stains running down the wall we share and the paint was bubbled and buckling.

Back at home, I got back to my frantic cleaning, trying to get everything off the floor. It was a very. Long. Day.

Tuesday, the insurance adjuster came to do his initial inspection. He determined that I am not liable for any of the damages so my insurance company couldn't do anything for me till we knew what the OTHER insurance company was going to do. Problem is that we have no idea who the OTHER insurance company is - or if there even is one since the house is in foreclosure. Either way, I had to take immediate action to protect my property as much as I possibly could.

So, back to cleaning.

I have a lot of stuff downstairs - more than I realized...lots of clothes that were soaked, very heavy oak bedroom furniture, gazillions of books...tons of stuff...and nowhere to put it and nobody to help me. Ugh.

I was finally able to get my cousin Rodia to help and I was extremely grateful for that. Since my house is a split-level, getting things from downstairs to upstairs requires climbing 2 flights of stairs - being able to just hand stuff up sped things up exponentially.

The next day was X-mas Eve. Another visit from the insurance adjuster and then the contractors came. They ripped out my soaking wet carpet from the entire downstairs - which required them to shuffle my heavy furniture from one room to the next while I chased behind them, picking up all the stuff that fell out or that they knocked over or spilled. Being X-mas Eve and a ton more work than they had expected, I couldn't be upset that they were less-than-careful...

In the end, I couldn't get to my bathroom (I've since cleared a path), I don't have a bed, I couldn't get to any clean socks or underwear, there are sharp little nails sticking up everywhere, and I was feeling very sweaty and stinky. With all the dust and mustiness and other yucky stuff filling my house's atmosphere, my eyes were burning and my throat was swelling and I wanted a shower so badly that I would've cried if I'd had the energy.

Luckily, Jim invited me over and let me use his shower and the next day, X-mas, was relatively relaxing.

Friday, more contractors came to check out my ceilings, walls, baseboards, etc; the carpet guy came to take measurements; and I made another gazillion phone calls.

Not much happened over the weekend. More water in my house - to be expected considering the mess next door and the warmer temperatures...more cleaning, more shifting and shuffling stuff around, trying to find things like socks and clean towels...

Now it's Monday - 8 days after the initial flooding incident...more contrators; lots of stepping on painful little nails; more calls; arguing with the HUD people; trying to keep track of all the damages, costs, and all the stuff my insurance guy tells me, what HUD tells me, what the contractors tell me....

AND working...from home since I can't exactly leave my house when people are coming and going all day. (Not to mention that even if I could, I'm sure as soon as I got to the office, I would need to be back here to sign something or figure something out or give directions to somebody or protect my stuff from careless contractors.)

I guess that's the plan for tomorrow too...Hopefully things will be settled down and figured out by next Monday.

Living alone is hard.

Life is hard.

I read a line in a book today that said something like, "Life should be simple. Not unchallenging, but not so difficult."

I agree.

But, here I am. Things could be worse. Things could ALWAYS be worse.

1 comment:

FibreJunky said...

2009 has GOT to be better...for all of us. I'm amazed that you can write about this wish such humour. You do sound quite exhausted, though. Best of luck with all the contractors and insurance companies.