Thursday, August 19, 2010

42 Sometimes Things Happen... {Picking Up The Pieces}

So it's been a week.... a crazy week.... a busy week.... a tearful week.... a week of new found appreciation.... a week of closeness.... a week of pulling together.... a week of denial.... a week of avoidance.... a week of bi-polar emotions... a week of gratefulness.

A week ago we had a flood.  This is not something that we planned for or worried about when we went to bed.  We have a sump pump.  It saves us ALL of the time.  But this time was different.  There was a power outage with a HUGE storm that had an ENORMOUS amount of rain fall.  This was happening at 1:00 to 4:00 in the morning while our family was fast asleep.  It was only a matter of time before water would begin seeping up from the ground into our basement.  And all while we slept only a few feet above it.  Our little one woke up from the storm around 3:30 a.m, and when we hopped out of bed to help him to the bathroom, we splish splashed in the dark through our entire lower level.  We still had no power and used the lights from our cell phones to find our way.  After getting our little guy back to bed, we stood there wondering what to do.  It was the middle of the night.  There was no power.  We felt helpless.....

My husband works at the school district and got the hook-up on a huge industrial carpet cleaner which had a water extracting option.  After hours of running the extractor over the whole lower level carpeting, we started feeling a sense of denial, saying, "We can do this, we can save this!" yet within minutes of thinking we had dried out a spot, it was back to sopping wet.


It was time to make a decision.  It was time to start looking at the real severity of the situation.  It was time to wake up and face the awfulness that had been happening the measly few hours we were trying to save our basement.  I started to take a closer look.  I wasn't happy with what I was finding.  Our baseboards were all swelling and corners were splitting.  Doors were swelling.  Furniture was cracking.  Our fireplace was expanding.  So was the rest of the furniture.  It was ALL splitting and expanding!  This was bad.  Real bad.


This is when help started coming in.  This is where the gratefulness also came in.  We had family members taking our clothes to their homes to wash them.  We had people putting all our furniture up on wooden blocks to try and prevent further damage.  We had a support system and a shoulder to cry on when our insurance company denied our claim, due to the "flood" and the fact they don't have any type of coverage that would have helped us in that very situation.

And then it got worse... the decision needed to be made to pull the carpet.  To say goodbye to half of our home's living space.  Safety is number one to us.  Our family comes before anything.  And carpet can very quickly be a sponge for mold in these situations, and with the amount of water that had come in, it was necessary for us to take the carpet out.  Which is exactly what we did that afternoon.


Here are a couple of shots of the damaged woodwork....



Fast forward one week.  A lot has been going on to reconfigure our life as a family of five, back together all on one level of home.  It took a lot of work to go from 2400 square feet to 1200 in the matter of a day.  How was it possible?  It was all about picking our most favorite things, and condensing the contents of both the upstairs and downstairs.  It was about imagining our daily routine, and planning to lay things out accordingly.  It was about knowing that since insurance wasn't covering our loss, that it is going to be quite some time to recover and regain our space.

As I mentioned we had some help.  Like a TON of help.  Our extended family really came through.  It was an overwhelming feeling of love and caring that just made my heart flutter a happy beat through the sadness.  It showed me that regardless of the loss we were feeling, we had more than we could ever imagine.

Those helpful hands forced us to make a lot of quick tough decisions about what to keep around and what to load up on the lines of trailers out front, which were heading to storage.  We are talking furniture, accessories, games, toys, rugs, files, etc...

Once all the condensing was said and done, everything had to be put back together.  This took two days and lots of muscles, but I am confident in all the decisions we made, as the last couple of days have been very comfortable in our newly shrunken abode.

Now it's time to open our door to you and let you in to take a look at the aftermath of the flood, a week later...


The first and biggest change that was made was to our living space.  We went from two fully furnished family areas down to one.  A lot of things got moved around, a lot was taken to storage.


Before included a large old entertainment center, a cozy couch, a glass coffee table....


Now we have our larger family sectional that was downstairs, upstairs!  This piece of furniture is by no means small, but it does comfortably seat us all, so it was necessary for this to remain and the other to leave.  It was also time to say goodbye to the previous TV and entertainment system and use the kiddie storage bins as our new media center, and to bring up our larger flat panel.


I kept only my most favorite accessories, since the new space was quickly eaten up by the large sofa.


When picking what was to stay and go, I went with my gut and kept the items that would offer the space the most texture and function.  It is the first room anyone sees when they enter our home....


I mixed our cozy furry pillows with the hardness of the leather.  We also added the white club chair and took out the brown chairs, to ensure things didn't feel too heavy.


The bin unit previously resided on the opposite side of the room, and was used to hold personal items for the adorable little daycare munchkins I spend my days with.  The bins were condensed to the bottom and the top row is now used to hold our media items {along with my most favorite stack of books}.

Toys, our charging station and extra blankets for our nights cuddling up, were also a huge necessity!  So they stayed, tucked on the other side of the room!


When figuring out the new layout, it was important to maintain safe and spacious flow to the heart of the home, the kitchen.


The kitchen saw the smallest impact, as we didn't loose one of those downstairs.  It just basically got an accessory switch up do to all the other movement going on!



And of course, the downstairs is where the biggest impact is.

Right at the bottom of the stairs is where our family room was located.


Now it is acting as a temporary dumping ground for all that has remained as an onsite need, and has no where to go.


Most of what stayed were the items from our playroom.  This is to ensure that not only my little ones, but also the sweet daycare kids, all have things to do to keep them happy and busy throughout the day.  It's just a matter of me running up and down the stairs to snag something for them to play with upstairs.

Speaking of playroom....


It's kinda more of a rug drying zone at the moment...


The rest of the lower level holds the same story.

Our game room before....


And after....


Master bedroom before...


And after...


And office before....


And now....


Of course seeing side by side before and afters like this:


... is enough to drive an organizing addict a little batty!

In all honesty, I contemplated sharing this story.  But this is real life.  And the storm impacted our whole town along with surrounding towns, and a large amount of our neighbors are currently finding themselves in the same bummer of a situation as this.

Is the sadness still there?  Absolutely, I would be lying if I were to say we weren't still finding ourselves with tears now and then.  However, we are so very grateful.  There are no words that I can find to explain our extreme gratefulness.  Grateful for our friends and family.  Grateful it wasn't worse.  Grateful to have one another and to be given this wake up call.  It's a true picture that it's not what you have, but who you have.  That when I wanted to curl into a ball and feel sad, I instead was able to look at my strong little Preston, Peyton & Parker and run into their smiling arms for unlimited amounts of hugs and kisses, and all the sadness was gone.

We have a long road ahead of us.  Fans and dehumidifiers have been running for the last week straight.  All is dry and there is no more avoiding.  Trim and doors will be pulled and the remainder of our items will be sorted and then the rebuilding process will begin.  We will be looking at all of our options to prevent this in the future and make new decisions based off of what we have learned this time around.

And boy oh boy... this is going to bring you all a lot more stories and content.  Like where are Bryan and I living now that we lost our master bedroom?  Where do we store our office supplies and print our spreadsheets?  And what is going on with the boys bedroom switcharoo?  That my friends will be shared soon, so stay tuned!


42 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry to see that this has happened to your beautiful home! You seem to have a good attitude and outlook about it though, and I'm sure that's very difficult. Hopefully something very good will come of it!

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  2. Oh, Jen! I used to live in Ohio and this kind of thing happened to me more than once in my time while I was living there. I'm a big believer that things happen for a reason - even tragic things. It's difficult, but in the end you'll be stronger and closer as a result of it. Keep your chin up - it will all come together in the end!

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  3. What a mess. I cannot say I know exactly what you are going through because our basement was not finished and utilized - but we did go through a terrible storm (two actually) that flooded our basement twice. It's such a terrible and overwhelming feeling, I am so sorry. It's wonderful to have family and friends that could help you through this tough time. Keep your head up (which you already are!) and things will fix themselves.

    (Oh and we also had zero insurance coverage which is so unbelievably frustrating.)

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  4. Oh I am so sorry! My family's condo had to be completely gutted after a neighbors pipe burst through our wall and poured water into our place for 6 days before anyone noticed while we were out of town. I know how difficult things may seem right now but they will gradually get better and you'll have the opportunity to make things they way you want them again.

    It sounds like you have an amazing support system who will help you pick up the pieces! I'll keep your family in my thoughts and I hope that things will settle back to normal for all of you very soon! Keep your head and know that things will get better!

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  5. So sorry to hear about your flood! Your new living room looks beautiful!! I LOVE your leather couch.
    xo,
    kelly

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  6. I'm glad you put this story up. We, too, were part of the Brew City flood in the Milwaukee area (I know you're around Wisco!). We lucked out and only had a trickle-down effect, but our neighbors lost thousands of dollars.

    Way to be positive and honest!

    `jen

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  7. Sorry that you're going through this! I'm also glad that you put this story up... crap happens. We had a pipe burst when we were out of town too and it was a disaster.

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  8. Ugh - I'm so sorry to hear about this! I live in the Twin Cities, and we had that same storm pour down on us. It was a LOT of rain. Hope you guys are able to get things back in order soon!

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  9. So sorry to hear what you have been going through. Thank you for sharing it with us. I wish you the best as you pull the pieces together one at a time. I'm sure it'll be even more beautiful. It's the family that makes a home, so keep up the good spirit!!!

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  10. Oh, no, that is so sad. I'm so sorry for you guys. Kudos to you for trying to save the carpet, and knowing when it's time to call it quits and just throw the sucker out. I wish the previous owner of our house did - the basement had flooded (but our house has no sump pump, we think it was the water heater) and they did NOTHING. They didn't throw out any carpet or replace any trim. At. All. And let me tell you, after we moved in it didn't take long for us to realize what microbes that basement carpet was harboring, not to mention the rot eating away at the wood down there, and we then we knew why after only 20 minutes in the basement we would get headaches and feel ill. Sooo glad you guys put safety first. Apparently if a carpet gets wet and isn't completely dried within 2 hours (or some time frame crazy small like that), then it will start growing mold. And you don't want mold. It's a pain in the butt to get rid of...

    Anyways. I'm so glad that you guys were able to get help with this disaster, and that you're keeping your heads up and making the most of the situation. Keep it up!

    ~Chelsea

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  11. Oh my goodness, I am so sorry! I can't even imagine. My parents main living area flooded when I was a teenager,and we also had water damage in our first home do to a pipe issue, but still nothing as bad, so I really can't imagine.

    I pray you have strength to get through it without too much stress.

    Your "new" living room looks lovely!

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  12. Hi, found you from the IHeart link on another blog - sorry to hear about the flooding. My heart goes out to you. I'm out in the sticks of SE WI and we got hit 4 times a few years ago, still trying to put rooms back together, but that is more economy based I think right now. Sending hugs & prayers. It's the things you can't replace that are so hard, when I had to throw my oldest daughter Baby Book away my heart broke.

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  13. Thank you all for taking a moment to stop by and share your thoughts and support! I am beyond grateful for not only our friends and family at home, but also for you!

    xoxo times 1,000,000!

    Jen

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  14. I'm so sorry that you and your family had to suffer such extreme circumstances but I'm so impressed and heartened (we;re talking a few tears here) that you're focusing on what's most important - each other.

    I'm also so amazed by the fact that even though your house has been virtually cut in half and your possessions up in the air, you still managed to not only carve yourself a new space to live AND orgaise that space AND decorate it,. so that when you take refuge from the craziness of downstairs, you and your family can relax in well presented, orderly spaces.

    Best wishes for the coming days, weeks months. There may be a time when you look back on this moment as a catalyst for something positive, though it probably doesn't feel that way right now!

    xx

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  15. Oh no Jen....This is bringing back a lot of memories of Katrina for me (I'm from New Orleans). What a mess, but of course your positive attitude is sure to get your family through it. Your house actually looks amazing for just having a flood a week before. Definitely keep on those insurance companies.... We had a lot of trouble with them after Katrina, but with constant persistence and many many months, we were able to get some results.

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  16. Oh no! My parents have been thru that numerous times....they got flood insurance after it happened the first time.....I am so sorry but you seem to be taking it all in stride.

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  17. I am so sorry that your lower level was completely flooded out. You are in such good spirits considering the ordeal that has gone on and you have still managed to keep your house as a "home." You and your family will get through it especially since you have each other. That is what matters most.

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  18. I'm sure that having this will undoubtedly be something you and your family will never forget. It's always a good reminder to know that things are just things and can be replaced....but people are so much more important. I will pray for you and your family. You have organized the main part of your home beautifully in spite of the chaos. That's truly amazing...and as a fellow organizing crazed person - it can also drive you batty living with things out of order!! Do you have a daycare in your home? Boy, that will certainly make things change...praying for you family and community! Becky

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  19. Jen, I found your blog this morning and loved it so much I actually emailed my husband about how lovely your house was. Your playroom is exactly what I want mine to look like and I told him I couldnt wait to show him your photos. Then I came on just now and saw your recent post. I am so sorry. I'm sure you are just devastated but I can tell from your home and blog that your family will come back even stronger than before. I also wanted to let you know I'm a real estate agent and have seen this happen lots of times before. Most people unless they are in a flood zone do not have flood insurance and little do they know that their insurance policies do not cover water damage if it comes from the ground up. Most policies only cover water damage from above. Homeowners can get riders to their policies to cover water damage from the ground up. If you could and get a chance please post that homeowners should call their homeowner insurance companies and check to see if they are covered and if not ask if a rider is available that they can add. I wish more people were aware that this happens all the time and what to do to prevent not being covered. Keep your chin up, you are surrounded by love and beauty in your family and friends!

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  20. I'm so sorry your family has had to go through this, but you have worked wonders in the space of one short week. As someone said, you have already created an area of ordered calm for your family while the affected areas are dealt with.
    And another thing told me clearly your spirit has not been broken during all this turmoil - the flower in the small vase on your ottoman. What a beautiful touch.
    You will get through this, and you will be stronger for it :-)

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  21. Wow!! I admire your spirit. People are more important than things, but it's such a bummer that you lost so much at once. I'm glad that you and your family are safe and I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with the lemons. :)

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  22. Oh I'm SO sorry! That is a nightmare. Good for you for making the best of it. When my basement was just cement floors, my kids loved to pull out the chalk and color. Maybe you can do that with the day care kids? Best of luck with all the work you have ahead of you!!!!

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  23. Hi Jen! I'm a new follower of your blog and because of it, I have been in organizing mode in our home also. I'm sorry to hear about what happened to you and your family. I'm from the Philippines and this happened to our country last year when most of Metro Manila was submerged in floodwaters of only a few hours continued raining(imagine people staying in rooftops waiting to be rescued because water was two storeys high). I know that you and your family will overcome this. I'm praying that this ordeal will be over soon.

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  24. Jen, so sorry to see this post about your home and community. Our thoughts are with you, but something tells me you'll turn lemons into lemonade!

    Erin

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  25. i know I already commented but I just wanted to say thank you. I've been ignoring some major organising and cleaning that needed to happen in my home, slacking off with excuses like 'too busy'; 'too stressed from work/relationship (which is silly because I have the loveliest boyfriend in the world)' etc etc.

    But I was so inspired (even more than your blog normally inspires me, which is A LOT) to see that despite the situation you still made tidying, organising and setting up your home a priority and that I should do the same. So thanks to you, I have a completely different house tonight (Sunday) than I did on Friday night. Thank you!!

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  26. Hi Belle!

    Thanks for such kind words, you have really melted my heart! Thanks SO MUCH for stopping by and taking a moment to pass on your motivation! You are why I blog every day! :)

    xoxo,
    Jen

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  27. Jen-I'm so sorry to see this happen to your home! I read the earlier post, but I had not idea the impact until I saw the pictures of your lower level. You did a great job arranging the top level so that it is functional and pretty while the downstairs is being repaired. Keep your chin up and remember we are rooting for you here in cyberspace.
    xo-Anya

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  28. Thanks for sharing this story and being real about what happened and the long road you still face. I'm so sorry that your family had to go through that! I think you've done a great job making your smaller space work for your family. Best wishes!

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  29. Wow... what a story! You've done a lot in just a week to make your home liveable. I'm really impressed! I just found your blog today, and I can't wait to see what other organizing tips and inspiration you have!

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  30. Jen, hang in there. As terrible as this seems right now, there's always a silver lining at the end of this mess. I thought I was finally getting somewhere with the house when it caught on fire; now I'm probably 800% further than I would have been in a year under normal circumstances.

    At the end, this will have a positive impact.

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  31. I stumbled upon your blog just a few weeks ago and love it! I also have 3 boys ages 4,3, & 18 months. You're truly motivating and inspiring as I feel completely lost sometimes how to keep the chaos under control and organized. We too, had our basement flood 2 weeks ago (we're from the Chicago area). Carpet ripped up and everything in disarray. I can completely relate. Hang in there!!

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  32. I am so sorry you having to go with this. I don't know if I would do as well as you are! Thanks for sharing how your home and family are cooping!

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  33. Hugs. Big hugs. We are going through this now. :( The difference is, the ins is paying for it, but it happened while my husband was away in Ca.... the help of people I see on a daily basis was amazing. Their hard work and willing ness to help. Take care and hang in there!!

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  34. Hi Jen, I'm just now reading this post - 9 months after you wrote it! I can totally relate to this post: we had a flood in our finished basement in the Spring of 2010. Just like your situation, it was from sump pump failure. Count your blessings that your family helped you out. It was just me, my hubby, and our son doing all the work of cleaning out the basement. (OK, so one of our son's friends helped out for a couple of hours.) We then had to have a restoration co. come in and pull all the carpet out, put the furniture on blocks, and run all the fans & dehumidifiers - to the cost of $4000. We just finished restoration a few months ago. Blessings to you!

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  35. Wow! Flooding can cause major problems if not treated properly. Sorry to read about your ordeal!

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  36. I have such a mess here in my home recovering from two floods in one year, that my husband wants to move or burn it. Its so out of control. the stacks just accumulate. I try to clean out and donate. I just can't seem to catch up. Its so frustrating. Sorry you had the same experience. You are so very talented I am sure that it's springing back together there.

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  37. I am happy to see that someone else has lived through this. Our home flooded in June 2008. We woke up to our box fan on the floor throwing water on our bed and 8 inches of water throughout our whole house and about 4 feet of water in our garage. We had a 2 year old and a three month old that we had to wade waist deep water for about a half mile to get to the road to get help. Luckily, we had power long enough to get the few things we needed to get us by until the water went down. Our home turned out to be a total loss because we didnt know to take the carpet out and the mold took over. Looking back, it is common sense now. You did an amazing job saving your home! You are for sure a super mom and wife. :) LOVE your blog!

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    1. It makes me so sad to hear you lost your home! I am sorry you had to go through that, such a hard thing. I hope that all is well now, and that you are happy and smiling big in your new space.

      xo!
      Jen

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  38. I am a little late responding to this but I am so sorry for your loss. I couldn't imagine losing half of my house! But I also just wanted to say to you and anyone reading this blog, as an insurance agent....you can purchase coverage on your home insurance policy for sump pump over flow and water back-up!! Many agents do not inform people of this coverage because of the price but most of the time it is about$ 75 or $100 for at least $5000 of coverage! (now flood insurance is a different story..like a river over flowing or it rains so much it comes in through the front door..) ASK for water back up or sump pump overflow coverage and if they say they don't have it, go somewhere else!!

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  39. Been there too growing up. A battery back up, and alarm can help on your sump pump. Have you thought about staining your concrete floors? They will dry immediately and then you would have to worry about the furniture mostly.

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  40. In reading this, I can only imagine how very hard it was to see the before and after imagery. The way you've shared catastrophe with others, approaching it as an organizational challenge and working from your strength, is impressive and very healthy. I'm sure you both were filled with despair and anger during and since but your public attitude and ability to share with others in such a constructive way is inspirational.

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    1. Thank you Tricia! It wasn't easy at the time, but it all worked out in the end, as things typically do. It was all about appreciating family first. And having new spaces to play with was a positive in the end. :)

      xo,
      Jen

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