Reader “just waiting” writes once again from the heart of Superstorm Sandy’s destruction — this time to say thanks for the help you gave the other day and to report on how government is “helping” the situation.
His own home is inland and was spared, but his parents live on one of the hard-hit barrier islands.
“just waiting” writes:
I want to send my heartfelt thanks to the members of the Commentariat for their good thoughts and sage advice in this difficult situation.
My parents home of 40+ years was in the path of Sandy, and suffered some pretty significant (but compared to some, not that bad) flood damage from the storm surge. I’ve heard rumor of one house totally undamaged by the storm, out of thousands, maybe 10,000, on the island. Seems everyone was touched by Sandy. Many homes were damaged so badly they’re now uninhabitable; many more were reclaimed by the ocean, leaving empty lots in their place. The geography of the island changed. All utilities have been shut off. The entire island infrastructure has been damaged. The flashing sign as you enter reads “Island Water” “Don’t Drink it” “Don’t flush it”
FEMA, NatGuard, and various police agencies prohibited anyone access to the area for 16 days, and then let us in only once for two hours to collect valuables. You were allowed to bring one suitcase to carry on your lap on the bus. Hollywood could not have scripted a more dismal and depressing refugee scene: cold, gray, windy, rainy day, dozens of haggard folks dragging a suitcase around in the streets amidst the destruction, police and emergency vehicles everywhere.
By that point, the storm’s damage had been seriously worsened by the delay. When I walked in the house on Day 16, the carpet still squished “water.” Brown “mud” covered the floors and lower walls. (I have to note, this is near the ocean; there’s sand, and no dirt to make real mud with for miles). We had taken out all the valuables and family photos the day before the storm, so we had enough time to throw out all the stuffed furniture on the 1st floor before we had to go back to the bus stop.
We were “allowed” back to the property on day 20, in our own vehicles, after providing ID at Checkpoint Charlie. (Yes, I have a problem with “the authorities” denying property owners access to their properties, no matter the reason.) By day 20, mold had started growing on the bottom two feet of all the walls. As I peeled up the carpeting, it was so saturated that it dripped. The padding was like a big sponge. When it was all up, there were puddles left on the already delaminating and warping plywood subfloor. Dishes inside lower cabinets were still filled with brown sludge water, and water ran out of a hutch when I pried the doors open. We saved Mom’s china tea cups; the rest of the stuff on the 1st floor joined the stuffed stuff in the pile outside.
I get to get back in on Wednesday, day 23, to start gutting the 1st floor down to the sticks. Subfloor included. Mold remediators will be in after that. I’m told walls should be left open to dry, so not planning to rebuild until spring. On the plus side, I got a real good workout dragging wet carpet and padding out of the house, and Mom gets to spend the winter in Florida then come home to a new kitchen.
Again, my sincere thanks to you all.