What’s Not Wrong with the Flood of 2011?

Early last Saturday morning the living and storage areas of our finished basement were flooded with several inches of sewer water. Pretty nasty. Today is Thursday, and a demolition crew is still here removing flooring, paneling, and contents, and working through the process of drying and disinfecting everything.

If we dwell on the loss, damage, and inconvenience, well, we could dwell a long time. So, we’re moving beyond that as much as possible, and trying to see this as an opportunity, although that vision comes and goes.

Some good things have come out of our flood situation. For example, I’m so proud of the way our family has handled this. We’re all exhausted, but we’re working together, taking steps together, and making decisions together.

We’re also clearer than ever that we have too much stuff. It’s time to be much more selective about our toys, our collections, and our possessions.

I’m glad we’re at a certain station in life where we can throw away furniture that is contaminated by sewage. We’re not rich—far from it–but our lives are improved by getting that damaged furniture out of here. Our hearts go out to the families whose lives are apparently improved by picking up that contaminated furniture from the curb and putting it in their trucks and station wagons and presumably taking it home.

Although I cannot be considered a youngster at age 53, I can still work pretty hard and carry stuff that is crazy-heavy. I’m glad I don’t do it for a living, but I’m just as glad I can do it when I need to.

We’ve had family talks over the last few days about the priorities of health and safety, followed by security, followed by convenience and comfort. The big life lesson here is the reaffirmation of those priorities.

And we appreciate the help, support, and good thoughts. Thanks.

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4 Responses to What’s Not Wrong with the Flood of 2011?

  1. Mindi Rench says:

    Your attitude towards the flood very much reflects mine when we got 4.5 feet of water in our basement in September of 2008. All together, my basement has had significant water 7 times, and each time I throw more stuff away, get better about organizing, and seek information about how to keep it from happening again. At this point, the ball is in our town’s court, as what seems to be causing our flooding is a blockage in an easement on our block that keeps water from flowing to where it should.
    I hope the rest of your cleanup goes well. It certainly isn’t easy or pleasant, but setbacks like these do bring their own (sometimes hidden) rewards.


  2. mardie says:

    Your attitude is always inspiring to me. And, I’ve grown to understand more deeply the name of your blog, the use of the negative to reflect an acknowledgement that life is not always sunshine and roses, but that it’s our perspective that gets us through. It is easy to look wise and brilliant in the good times. You make it look easy in the tough times too, and lord knows I’ve appreciated that perspective in the past year.
    I hope your new couches are soft and cozy. I hope your children are paying close attention to how the adults in your house cope with the tough days.


  3. glenda says:

    Oh, Gary, I’m so sorry about this personal catastrophe. Our basement flooded a couple of years ago when a down-spout broke, but that’s not as gross as what your family is enduring. Our insurance company claimed the damage was not covered, so we (my husband primarily) took care of the repairs ourselves. A colleague who lays carpet on the side replaced the padding, stretched, and tacked the carpet. We were lucky. The damage was minor and mainly an inconvenience.
    Purging ourselves of “stuff” is healthy. I’ve never been much of a collector, and I always feel better when I give spaces in my home a good cleaning out. I need to do that a bit more often w/ my attitude–clean out the junk, that is. I appreciate your perspective and wish you all some much-needed rest and comfort.


  4. BillH says:

    Sorry to hear about the flood issues. Floods are never fun for anyone but the newspaper photographers who get to take pictures and then go home. I hope your insurance covers a lot of the damage. But here in southeast Iowa, we know a bit about floods.

    There are people in the area here that STILL are having problems after the Great Flood of 2008. The entire small town of Oakville was pretty much moved to somewhere near St. Louis. Roads were entirely rebuilt because not only did the road wash away but so did the entire dirt/rock mound it was built upon. We had one lady where I work who had to take a boat from just outside her house to where she parked her car just to get to work each day; if she had not been at work when the road closed, there would not have been a car for her to drive to work. If I had wanted to go to Iowa City from Davenport for about 2 weeks the ONLY way was to drive through Dubuque and then Waterloo, turning a 60 mile drive into a 250 mile drive. You couldn’t even walk on the I-80 bridge over the Cedar River (much less drive on it!), and there is still construction going on there. The Burger King in Iowa City near the U of I’s baseball/softball complex still hasn’t reopened, and a couple of other businesses near there simply razed the buildings and relocated. Cedar Rapids had a large portion of downtown (including the Public Library) closed due to flooding that year; May’s Island will not be the same for a long time.


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