Starting Again

Oh, where to begin.  Last Thursday’s post spoke volumes, even in its brevity.  And so much has happened in the four days since. I will go back and write about the actual experience someday and share that, but not today.  Today I want to provide everyone with an update on where we are and what we see going forward, inasmuch as we can see that right now.

Amazingly, there is a lot of good news.  We have been staying with Chris’s parents about an hour north of Houston since Thursday. In the interim, offers of spare rooms have poured in. Yesterday was a call from friends who are out of town and their home is sitting empty for two more weeks…would we like to move there while our “permanent temporary” housing is arranged? Um, yes please – and thank you! It is centrally located in town where we will have access to our house and all of our “normal” activities with ease, and will be much easier to manage with James than a hotel. It will also allow Mom to stay cost-free and nanny for a few more days while we get past the frenzy of meetings, etc. And it will give us some desperately needed down time to just sit quiet and be.

The more permanent fix is being arranged by our insurance. We are looking for a rental house in our neighborhood and they are apparently several possibilities. We hope to make it there by mid October.

And friends and strangers alike have been so generous. James now has plenty of clothes to wear, toys to play with, and a Pac-n-Play to sleep in (Chris’s parents will keep theirs so he can come visit without packing up). And we are truly humbled by all the funds and gift cards people are sending. How does one ever thank people adequately for such generosity? We are blessed beyond measure and ever so grateful.

In the mean time, the insurance company and their sub-contractors have been at the house almost 24-7 since we called them Thursday night documenting, removing, inspecting, etc.

What can I say about our sweet house? It looks sad and awful. I can’t think of words to convey how awful awful really is…Perhaps someday when I get a download cable for the camera I’ll post pictures. On my way out the door I was able to grab our purses, the diaper bag, cell phones, and the camera, which was by the door because it was James’s birthday.

Standing in our downstairs, you can literally see the sky from five rooms. Part of the office fell into the kitchen. What didn’t burn got caked in soot and smoke and water. As of yesterday, almost all that was left downstairs were load-bearing wall frames and sub-flooring.  Literally all the dry wall, cabinetry, counters, appliances, floors, etc. are gone. If I understand correctly this is to mitigate additional water damage and to inspect.

Let me circle back for a moment and say that the fireman (I think we have between five and seven trucks?) were so kind.  After the fire was out they grabbed every picture frame hanging downstairs and brought out of the house, along with jewelry, and our crystal and grandma’s china which were amazingly unscathed. They also brought our wedding album and the album Mom made Chris as an engagement gift with all my school pictures and some family favorites from growing up. They weren’t even wet. They were in the middle square of a five-by-five cube bookcase!

And yesterday, in a true miracle, the folks working in the house were able to find and carry out of what little remains of the office, many boxed up hard copy photos (some of the OLD family photos and childhood pictures) which were in plastic bins – to protect from hurricanes. They also found our wedding proof albums, which were damaged but hopefully salvageable, and four of five of my “memory boxes” containing mementos from Dad, Aunt Anne, and Grandma. I simply can’t put in to words what these things mean to me (but I can cry it out). And while they are only things, they are my/our history.

It’s ironic that the physical have, at least in part, survived while the digital are likely gone…though they did pull the hard drive from the rubble, I can’t imagine in the heat and flames that anything is there. We’ll see. At least the very best have been emailed and shared and can be collected. (Side note, it is best to take your external hard drive back-ups off the desk and put them in a fire-proof safe or off site. Duh!)

So today we move back in to town. We keep working with the insurance folks on the inventory, especially for the office and upstairs TV room which were largely destroyed, and we get ready to try to resume a little bit of normal life.

Right now, our hope is to rebuild – whether that’s start from scratch or reconstruct isn’t clear at this point. What we do know is we expect to be out of the house for 6-12 months at a minimum.

The best part is James is fine. Thankfully he is too little to be traumatized or understand and he is rolling with it. He is our bright spot, and will have one heck of a first birthday story. And on a funny side note, our friend Elizabeth (who has four girls) hosted his little birthday party on Saturday (sweet James still deserved to be celebrated). Overwhelmed by the boy selections at the party store, she picked fire trucks as the theme, completely without thinking. And we all laughed our heads off, cause what else are you gonna do? And we do love the fireman!

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3 thoughts on “Starting Again

  1. susan October 5, 2011 / 6:43 am

    Thanks for the update, Eileen. It was good to hear ‘your voice’ in this. We’re praying for you guys lots. I didn’t know firemen grabbed stuff on their way out….that’s one of those things that is really touching to me!! And I’m so glad some of those special keepsakes are ok!! Much love…

  2. Tim Morgan October 5, 2011 / 3:18 pm

    Hi Eileen, Couldn’t believe the news when Chris emailed me last week. So pleased to hear that Friends and Family have rallied round and made the aftermath bearable! I know it is of little comfort but you have been in our thoughts lots these past few days! Love Tim, Jan, Daniel & Erin.

  3. JoAnn Serdinow October 5, 2011 / 6:24 pm

    Hi Eileen, Auntie Fran has kept us posted on your family’s attempt to grab the attention wheel…You win, but then again no one really wants to top it…YUCK.
    Our prayers of thanksgiving that you all survived the tragedy with hearts and bodies and that wonderful sense of humor. There is still much to go through, but it sounds like you are in the right direction. A huge hug for each of you, JoAnn

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