With the one-year mark in the hindsight, I turn to reflections about what my husband and I went through when our house and yard was damaged.
The temperature changed from cool to near 100 degrees, with no electrical power (or Internet) for a week. Neighbors and their relatives swarmed upon our neighborhood. Chainsaws sang out from dawn to dusk. Tree removal companies from around the states arrived.
We didn’t know much of anything. We called our insurance emergency number, but got a recording with a “we’ll get back to you.” A couple of years ago, a single tree fell in Neighbor Mark’s yard, brushing some of his gutters off. With the same insurance company, Mark gave us a different number, and we talked with a live human who gave us a claim number.
The awesome emotional shot-in-the-arm for us was our son in Milwaukee driving out on Monday and Tuesday. My husband and I were still walking around in zombie-like shock. We are on well water. Without electricity, there is no way to pump water to our sinks. Neighbor Mark across the street kindly let us pull 8 gallons of water a day from his city-water spicket. Our son willingly washed sweat and brushed his teeth from a bowl of water. It was NOT similar to camping. What we had hoped our son to help us do in those two days, he finished in the first few hours of his stay. He’d finish one project, find us working elsewhere, place his hands on his hips and say, “What next?” What a blessing!
Heavy machines making ruts in our yards and all sorts of sawing machines rumbled our neighborhood for weeks. Following the storm, the silence of the saws at night was taken up by window-rattling generators. Our dog rescue neighbors a few doors down said their dogs’ medical bills were over $1,000, mostly from stress-related. There was no place to escape the noise, day or night.
Garbage rotted in our refrigerators and on the curbs. The garbage truck couldn’t make it down our street from the fallen trees and both sides of the street lined with tree removal trucks. They didn’t come back – not until I called, several times over the next few days.
Things take on different priorities during recovery. It’s not even like camping, nor even like working on mission trips in very poor locations. In normal situation, I would have been appalled if someone put filthy work gloves on my kitchen counter. Yet, in this new situation, I often found things in odd places, like my own filthy work gloves laying on the kitchen counter.
For four months, while our master bedroom was repaired, my husband and I slept in the guest bedroom, on the twin beds our boys grew up on. We never realized how short those mattresses were. It took us a month of attempting sleep in the fetal position before we thought to simply move the top mattresses out four inches from the headboard.
I remember writing angrily a year ago about tricksters coming into storm-damaged areas and taking money from storm-shocked victims, and never seen again. It wasn’t until months later that I realized our own local (Kalamazoo) contractor had done similar things to us. (I don’t even want to talk-write about what he did even at this date. Still too angry, and not able or capable of letting it go.)
With live-as-usual just a couple blocks from our neighborhood, people didn’t stop their demands on us Carlsons. (I could also list things people required of us, un-storm-related, but again, it would be an angry write. When I’m able to release the emotion from that time, I hope to write about it.)
As I write this, I realize there are still some unresolved issues. I know that some of them will never be resolved, but that some day I must simply be able to release them. Otherwise, I know that by holding on to those ugly feelings, I will turn into a bitter old lady. I do not want to turn into a bitter old lady.
(I promise that tomorrow’s post will be lighter – with reflections about our new and improved life, post storm recovery.)