Asbestos Abated, Repairs Begin

Before repairs to our recent flooding damage could begin, since our condo was built in the early 1970’s, we had to have the damaged areas tested for asbestos. It was found in almost all the samples taken from the floors and walls, so an abatement company was called in to take care of ripping out and rendering safe all affected areas. Early this week they finished their part of the job and Serv-Pro confirmed everything is now finally dry, so now the contractor can begin the work of repairing our home.

(I hope your family never needs their services, but if you ever do, I can’t recommend Serv-Pro highly enough. They were so quick, responsive, helpful above and beyond the call of duty. It is a national company and most likely available in your area if you live in the US.)

Here are some photos of our house at this stage in the process:

The kitchen, dining room and living room are storing all contents of the home at this point.

The kitchen, dining room and living room are storing all contents of the home at this point.

View of the living room.

View of the living room.

The hallway and laundry closet.

The main bathroom minus damaged shelving, waiscoating and sink.

The main bathroom minus damaged shelving, waiscoating and sink.

Eli surveying "his" room (he sleeps with us but we store his toys and clothing here).

Eli surveying “his” room (he sleeps with us but we store his toys and clothing here).

The room used as my husbands office.

The room used as my husbands office.

We debated letting Eli see our home in its current condition as he has been so upset that his “house is broken”. In the end it would have been too hard to manage the logistics of keeping him away when we both needed to be there to meet with the contractor. I think seeing it was helpful to him to understand why we have to be in the hotel now and can’t just go home. He also seems to have a pretty good handle on the concept now that while everything is very ugly, dirty and non-functional now it will be better than ever before once the “worker men” are done doing their thing.

The master bedroom.

The master bedroom.

The master bath which now needs a new wall and vanity. This room was horribly stuck still in the 1970’s so it will be really nice to have it redone and the silver paisley wallpapered wall painted over. I thought I’d spare you the nightmares that might ensue if you were to see THAT monstrosity!

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As for life in the hotel, it has it’s definite perks, at least as far as our vehicle-obsessed two year old is concerned. The garbage truck comes to empty the dumpsters EVERY DAY… we can hear it come from inside our room and go out to watch it from the third floor. That’s a view down directly into the hopper! Ok, maybe not everyone’s cup of tea (especially right on the way to breakfast), but it is definitely a high point in Eli’s day.

 The hotel is located directly across the street from the fire station as well so we get to watch the fire engines leave with lights flashing and sirens blaring a few times a day. When we go out for walks we can also see the firefighters prepping the trucks for their next emergency if the station garage door is open. Just a block away is the exit ramp from the freeway. This means that from our hotel room window we can see every manner of truck drive by. Cement trucks! Food trucks! Big rigs! Delivery vans! All must be identified and exclaimed over.

Yesterday when we went out for a walk we were able to hop on a city bus, which Eli has wanted to do for a long time. We took it only a short distance to the nearby mall where Eli was able to play on the quarter-consuming mechanical rides. For once it was an easy task extracting him from the mall, because all I had to do was remind him that we were going to catch a bus back to the hotel. He couldn’t leave fast enough!

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Of Plague and Flood

Things have been a bit quiet here on Folk Haven for the past two weeks. That’s because they have been anything but here in our household. On January 2nd we received what I am hoping is not just a taste of what 2013 has in store for us, but rather we are just getting all of the badness out of the way at once. When I was in high school the lunch ladies had a sign posted that read “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse can happen to you for the rest of the day.” I hope our current situation is just our proverbial frog.

Let me explain… On January 2nd, I threw a load of laundry in the wash and left the house with Eli for a walk to the park to enjoy the balmy mid 60 degree temperatures. While we were still at the playground I received a call from my husband who had just arrived home to find water all over the floor. He asked me to try to pick up an extra mop from the neighbor on the way home. I envisioned arriving home to maybe an hour’s worth of clean up.

Instead there was standing water about 3/4″ deep throughout almost every room in the house. We utilized every towel as well as our mop and the neighghbor’s. My husband hauled wet personal items like the bean bag chair into the sun to dry and eventually there was nothing else that could be done immediately. I took Eli and collapsed into bed for a much needed nap.

Less than an hour later Eli and I both were abruptly awakened as he began to vomit vigorously all over himself, me, the blankets, sheets, pillows and the one bed undamaged from the flood. It was the beginning of his third and most serious bout of the stomach flu in a month. He continued to be unable to keep anything down, and to soil many pairs of pajamas and various bedding items all afternoon and throughout the night. And since there we were without clean towels for bathing or a washing machine my husband spent the evening running multiple loads through the machines at the neighborhood coin laundry while I tended to one very miserable little feller. As he huddled over the toilet the light in the bathroom died… not the lightbulb, but the light, some electrical problem in the wall. Thankfully Eli isn’t afraid of the dark as we visited the dark bathroom many a time more that night.

We quickly got a replacement washing machine and after a couple of days Eli’s flu ran it’s course. As he had already had it twice before in the previous weeks (or so we’d thought) I thought I must be immune to this particular strain of the virus. Um,.. uh… NO. By Saturday evening I was definitely the next to play hostess to the bug. I was sick and losing fluids just about every way possible all night long and by morning the resulting dehydration had led to contractions. Sunday was spent in the hospital getting IV fluids and anti nausea medications. Thankfully the contractions subsided quickly and after about half a day I was released to rest at home.

By now we were 4 days post flooding and I was beginning to smell mildew. We had been unable to dry out the carpets at all and the laminate floor in most of the house was showing damage. With everything else going on we hadn’t been able to start the process of calling the insurance. Actually, initially we had thought we were uninsured for this type of damage. Fortunately, we do have coverage and Monday morning we began the process of taking action to address the damage.

We have to replace all flooring in our house except the tile in the dining room and kitchen. Walls in the two bathrooms have to be partially replaced as well. As our condo was built pre-1980, asbestos testing had to be done before any work could be started. We found that almost all of the samples collected tested positive for asbestos, so beginning this week an abatement company will have to come in and contain each room  in plastic and remove the mastic that covers the entire cement slab under our existing flooring. To allow them access to get the work done we have to pack up every room and clear it. As our insurance doesn’t cover this service we will be doing it “musical chairs” style, shifting everything from room to room until the work is finished. Obviously it will be impossible to live here while all of this is going on.

I am now dealing with all of this quite a bit better than I was a few days ago. It has been exhausting to say the least. I am in full nesting mode as I enter my 33rd week of pregnancy, but instead of getting everything ready for the baby we are packing up everything and shoving it to and fro. I sincerely doubt any more sewing for the baby will get done at this point. Eli gets more unnerved than many children by disruptions to his environment. This has all been quite challenging for him as his “house is broken”, he isn’t allowed into his room for safety’s sake, and we will soon be living away from home. We’ve been experiencing many more meltdowns that are of greater duration than we have before as he tries to regain some sense of control amidst the chaos.

I am trying to look on the positive side though. We do have insurance coverage, which is no small things as the bill for this laundry misadventure is looking to be over $10,000. This could have occurred while I was completely overcome by morning sickness, or during the time I was on bed rest. It could have occurred right when the baby was being born and we were bringing her home from the hospital. Instead this is the week that extended family is away on vacation and can offer to let us stay in their nearby condo. Another family from church has graciously offered to let us stay with them if we are still out of our home after this week. Although this has been a challenging time for Eli, it could be so much worse. I am proud of the adaptability he has shown, and in the moments when it is more challenging it is still a good learning opportunity for him in dealing with life when it is not as one would wish, and for us as we continue to hone our parenting skills. We also could have lost much more personal property than we did. Above all else, no one has been injured, and we have a home to call our own, no matter how damaged it might be.

As the old hymn says:

“When peace , like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

Horatio Spafford- It Is Well with My Soul (1873)

If though this all I can only learn to better live genuinely holding the attitude described in this hymn. The story behind it is actually quite amazing (and makes my personal circumstances seem trivial indeed).