Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Storm Sandy... The Aftermath

Anyone who lives on the East Coast knows that Storm Sandy had a devastating impact on New Jersey, NYC and parts of Connecticut.

While power was lost for days, if not weeks, many lost their homes from floods and my dad is one of those people.

For a man who lost his wife of 65 years this past April and his home of 57 years in October, he's pretty resilient, but I think it's the ones around him that are feeling the effects of Storm Sandy.

From the day of the Storm, life has been more than chaos for me and some of my siblings. He lived with one sister for 2 weeks before I moved him into temporary housing at a local hotel for another month until a new home was found for him. He's 90 and we were looking for an independent living facility and my sister did an amazing job researching the various places in our area. While I only toured one of the places (the one he didn't choose) I must admit, it's great to see how people are creating places where the elderly can live in a place they can call home and not feel as though they were just transplanted someplace where babysitting is 24 hours/day.

My sister and I helped move him into his place on Sunday and while there are tons of boxes still left to unpack, let me tell you what it took to get him someplace safe. The list includes:

- moving furniture to the 2nd floor prior to the storm
- negotiating with hotels in the area to find the best rate
- meeting with his homeowner's insurance carrier to get some money for wind damage and rain damage
- meeting with FEMA only to get some money for additional living expenses, but being denied because he collected last year and FEMA informed him he needed to get flood insurance
- meeting with plumbers to drain his pipes and winterize the house
- meeting with contractors to gut the house because as much as you try to explain it, a 90 year old man does not get that opening windows would really have paid off. So, instead of having to gut the first floor of a house, you now have to gut 2 floors because the walls were wet and the ceiling in the dining room grew a disgusting mold colony.
- shouting at your 90 year old father because he refuses to wear his hearing aid
- making arrangements with a friend to hire her son and 3 of his friends to help pitch or move items to a storage unit
- arranging for a dumpster
- packing and pitching items from a house my father lived in for 57 years in record time of about 14 hours. I'm truly grateful my mom was not a packrat, but in the last 4 years she was in a nursing home, he managed to save a lot of paper
- having to go through your mother's items that hadn't been looked at since her funeral
- getting sick and going on antibiotics from the respiratory infection I got from mold exposure while packing up his house.
- having another sister throw up for 2 days from same mold exposure and stress of the Thanksgiving weekend
- having arguments with your 90 year old father because he thinks he can just turn on his electric and dry out his house (water was higher than electric sockets)
- having more arguments with your father because he doesn't understand just because there is a flood it doesn't mean your homeowner's policy automatically covers you. YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THIS COVERAGE.
- having an argument with your father because you ask him to do you one favor and wait for the plumber to winterize the house because you have a full-time job, and while your boss is understanding, there is really only so much time you can take off and he can't even wait for the plumber because he wants to meet his friends. Instead the plumber calls you,you panic because the temperatures are going to drop soon and his pipes might freeze and burst creating an even bigger mess in house. You end up cancelling all your afternoon calls and finally talk to your father who yells at you because he doesn't like the fact that I was upset about his rearranging the plumber's meeting without consulting me and yelling even more at me when I tell him I had to cancel my meetings so he could go have lunch with friends. No thank you. No apology.
- talking for multiple hours with a realtor how to even price the house because it's been in 2 floods in one year
- talking with a real estate attorney to find out if there are any environmental issues that could be a problem when we go to sell
- recognizing that to sell the house $15,000 must be paid to take down the walls to the studs, remove the carpets, replace exterior doors and spray to kill the mold so the structure of the house can remain in tact.
- recognize at some point, while doing all this legwork, your father only respects my 2 sisters and has no issue with dismissing me and the efforts I've been doing to help him.
- recognizing at times his "thank yous" are just lip service
- spending far too much time in Bed, Bath and Beyond and having no desire after 3 shopping carts full of stuff and saving $138 using their coupons how you may never want to step inside any store again. Actually, after this trip, I had to go into Walmart to get some items and had to leave quickly because I was so overwhelmed and it sucked.
- losing all personal time and getting physically sick from the stress and lack of sleep
- having multiple calls daily with the contractor and finding out the City doesn't want to grant you a permit for the demolition within the home to destroy the mold.
- digging up any photos you can find to help get the permit
- having my 2 sisters take my dad to the hospital because he HAD to fix something and went into his garage didn't watch where he was going, tripped and fell flat on his face and broke his nose (he's fine)
- ending up in tears on several occasions because my father has been more than difficult
- realizing that I need space from him
- getting closer to YogaGirl than I ever thought possible and thanking my lucky stars that she stays calm when I can't and vice versa
- hoping that things calm down at work so I don't have to keep working till 8 pm like I have the past several weeks
- looking forward to December 24th because I moved Christmas to the 23rd and I can breathe for a couple of days.

My heart goes out to anyone who suffered, or has suffered from any natural disaster. All the details are crazy enough, but the fighting and other feelings that I've experienced since the storm are more than I wish upon my worst enemy. I've become the ugliest me because of it all and look forward to it all ending.

In addition to the packing and pitching of the house,I appreciate that one sister took my father in during the storm and has been in charge of his medical issues, and that YogaGirl has done so much for my father in terms of finding him his new home, getting the movers to get him in and looking to protect his future financials. She is also paying for repairs to his home so we can put it on the market.

I also appreciate the wonderful people I've met. The claim examiners, the movers, my friend for finding people we needed desperately to help us clear out the house and the amazing contractor who is working with us to keep costs down and manage my father. The realtor and especially my husband who has not only helped out a lot, but has tried to make my life easier by making dinners so I can work late, listen to me cry from sheer frustration with my dad and hugged me when I needed it.

I can also admit this - I've reached my limit and I'm glad I wrote this post. It's been extremely therapeutic. Now...if I could only sleep.


Brian Miller said...

i bet it was...wow you have had your hands full...i am sorry you and he had to go through this...the aftermath of storms can be pretty brutal...i have helped out after a few of them....

Little Ms Blogger said...

It has been horrible. I do recognize all the people who have made our lives a bit easier. May I never have to go through this again.

Maria said...

LMB, I am surprised that you were able to bake such wonderful Christmas cookies in the midst of all this craziness. If you need someone to commiserate with, call me, living with an elderly parent has been one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. To top it off, my Mom has early stage dementia so it's heartbreaking as well. I commend you for what you and your sisters are doing for your Dad. There are alot of kids who just don't care about their elderly parents, I have heard so many sad stories from my friend who is the Executive Director of Stamford's Senior Services.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Oh. My. Gawd! What an ordeal-- a nightmare, for one and all. Sheesh. I can't even imagine.

You and your sisters have done an amazing job. Times like these often seem like a thankless pain in the butt, but I'm glad your dad is safe.

It's good to get all this off your chest, I hope it helped.

Hang in there. xo jj

Little Ms Blogger said...

Maria - Don't be impressed, I stopped baking because I ran out of time, but I did enjoy doing it when I could. A definite stress reliever. I'm glad you enjoyed them.

Joanna - It is still on going, but I have met some very kind people who are really willing to help. I just can't wait - I have about another month before I can really take a breather.

Brian Miller said...

hey you...i was surprised to see you in my email today...took the day offline..and actually will be until the weekend...but that was a pleasant surprise...how are you?