Friday, July 19, 2013

Rescue, Recover, Salvage

We were allowed a brief look at the house late Saturday night (June 22) once the water had receded.  My heart sank.  There was 3 feet of mud brown yucky water in my basement.  My bedroom door was swollen shut, and a layer of silt covered every surface where water had been.  It was a disaster.  I barely slept that night, the anxiety of what to expect was so great.

I drove my friends back to the airport.  A vacation they are sure to never forget, I am sure.  Though I am not sure how I would have got through the previous days with out the extra support they afforded me, we had made lists, discussed worst case scenarios, worked out plans of attack, as only one thinks they can when faced with this sort of situation.

We returned to the house midmorning on Sunday and my sister in law and a handful of neighbours had filled two trucks full of our belongings that were above water.  We set in and continued packing, a woman whom I had never met arrived at my door to ask how she could help.  Thinking she was with the others I asked her to help pack the kitchen.  Over the next couple of hours, I found out she wasn't with the earlier group of neighbours, but had a friend down the street who she had come to help.  When the friend had not arrived, she just looked for someone else to help, and that turned out to be us.  This was to be the atmosphere for the next few days.  Neighbours and community rallying to help each other out.  There were beverages being handed out, food trays passed around.  People covered in mud.

Once we emptied the top dry floors of the house we headed down, down to the muck filled basement.  A kind neighbour had pumped out the water so there was only about 20 cm still there.  I wandered with my steel toed rubber boots through the water, picking out things that could be salvaged.  These were then rinsed and packed for further cleaning.  The devastation on that level was intense, the smell horrible and the mud slippery.

In the master bedroom people uprighted chests of drawers, trying to salvage all that was in them.  Three good friends worked tirelessly sifting through the mud to find valuables, there were small mercies.  Items that when found would make me laugh or cry.  A picture of my brother and I when we were children was a rare treasure.  I cried with joy, I was so sad that I thought I had lost it and now here it was, muddy, but here.  Tamara, a true gem, went as far as borrowing a sieve from a neighbour to see if she could find my pearl earrings that I got as a wedding present and an Emma Glover ring that is precious to me.  She found one earring, an opal from my mother and the ring but sadly not the pearls.  These two finds we like striking it rich in the gold mines.

The feeling of community coming together was overwhelming.  Neighbours really rallied to help out.  I found out I was living among an amazing group of people.  These people spent every free moment helping others out.  There were pumps going and things being moved out as quickly as possible.  And that was even before the salvage began.

It was a day of small celebrations, lots of hard work, a feeling of community and a lot of laughter despite what we were going through.

I know that I will ever be able to truly thank all the people who helped, especially Jen, Tamara and Lynn.  Who not only did they spend the entire Sunday with us cleaning, but continued through out the week with all the other tasks that go with recovering from a flood.

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