Two older people, one working full-time, cannot clean up a house from a flood. And pretty much everyone we knew was going through the same thing. Add the lines and the forms and the paperwork to apply for relief, and the mold just kept growing.
For us, the Red Cross was worthless, but others we heard got aid. I think it was a triage situation. FEMA was pretty much, we can offer you low interest loans through the Small Business Administration if you qualify. The State of Minnesota was awesome providing up to $50,000 in a “forgivable” loan—but we would soon find out that that was a drop in the bucket. And yes, the insurance company did pay $250 for what was lost in the refrigerator and freezer due to the electrical blackout.
For us, and many others, the saviors of the day were the Salvation Army. Truly caring, compassionate people who were able to coordinate volunteers who not only came and dumped the entire contents of our basement into a dumpster, but did demolition, cleaning and partial repair!
On the day our basement was cleaned out, I was so over-wrought that my mother came out, gave me some valium and took me to her house. I cried myself to sleep and came home after they left. All the memories of my children’s childhood, keepsakes, antiques, things that I had worked for so long to acquire, and the boxes of stored food, medical supplies and ammunition. All gone…
They came back and demolished the sheetrock in the basement and washed the block walls down with bleach water. Eventually they were able to get volunteers to even repair part of the basement where my step-daughter slept.
My vacation hours were gone and I had to resign from my job. There was just too much to do. We were down to one income.
A tree that had almost come down on the house had to be removed. It was lifted with a crane over the house. Not cheap. There was so much construction going on all over southeast Minnesota that contractors were impossible to find. I got the Amish to dig out the collapsed retaining wall, pull back the boulders and build a new retaining wall. Not cheap. The flooding creek had almost taken out the barn and riprap—small boulders—were needed to stabilize the bank. Not cheap. The rest of the basement had to be rebuilt. A new furnace had to be put in. And it seemed like the electrical appliances up stairs were all on the blinks and going away. School had started. Winter was coming.
We had to apply for an SBA loan. My home had been paid for, now we were $100,000 in debt and only had one income.
It was the next year before we got the money to completely rebuild. And then it was the contractors. I have come to hate contractors. One or two days a week and off they go to another job. And if you are not there, they take shortcuts and screw you where they can.
By 2009 we were finally recovered from the flood. But our finances and emotions had taken its toll. And what had I learned through all of this…?