Friday, March 24, 2017

The Flood

(I wrote this on March 20th, so it has now been a week and 2 days...) (I also am way too wrought up right now to proofread so I apologize in advance if I was too wordy!)

It has been an insane almost-week that has felt more like a month at least.  The word ‘whirlwind’ comes to mind, though in reality it was more like a ‘whirlpool.’

Tuesday the 14th was my dad’s 65th birthday.  We’d hosted his party on the Saturday before, which I’m thankful for since if we’d waited to have his party the next weekend, it would have been cancelled.

On his actual day, he and my mom came over later in the afternoon and we visited and then closer to the time that James would be getting home from work we ordered some take away.  The plan was Chinese Food, but our go-to place was closed so we decided on Greek, which ended up being really good.  We had strawberry tall cake with ice cream for dessert.  After my parents left and the kids were in bed, James and I checked out a comedian show on Netflix, Mike Birbiglia.  I highly recommend checking him out.  His show was really funny, and all around enjoyable.  I didn’t find him at all offensive, although of course that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t offend anyone!  I just found his comedy to be the kind I really like.  I’m glad we got to have those laughs, because in all honesty it would be our last for a while!  (I haven’t found myself laughing much at all since).

I didn’t go to bed that night till just before 2am, which in some ways I was kicking myself for as I headed up to bed, because I really do need to start going to bed earlier, and I really do crave better rest, which I’m not going to get if I go to bed that late.  In my defence, however, with it being Spring Break, I was finding the kids SO GOOD about letting me get up on my own, and I’d had sleep ins on both Monday and Tuesday, which was glorious.  The clocks changed last Saturday so my internal clock was a bit wonky, and so it may not have been all that much of a sleep in truly, but it was better than I’d be getting on a school morning.  I actually thought for a second that I was in for TWO WEEKS of awesome sleep ins, that have literally never happened for me in over 8 years (before Andrew was born).  Well, apparently I jinxed myself.

I half-awoke to the realization that EVERYONE was in the bedroom, and without even opening my eyes I knew it was early and my first reaction in my head was, ‘Why am I being woken up so early, it’s SPRING BREAK!!!’  Then my eyes were forced quickly open to James talking, although I’ve got to give it to him, he was very calm and talking in the nicest way possible, under the circumstances!  He said, ‘I don’t want you to freak out, but something very serious happened downstairs, and I need you to get up right now and help me with it!’  I knew nothing had happened to any of the kids since they were all there too, just quietly staring at me (they all had to know I wasn’t going to be pleased with what I was about to see!)  I said, 'What is it?!' And James said something along the lines of, 'Well, imagine the worst leak we've had...and it's way worse than that.' I shot out of bed, grabbed my glasses and went down the stairs to see several inches of water EVERYWHERE throughout the entire downstairs of our house.

Downstairs is everything aside from our bedrooms and our full bathroom.  So we’re talking living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom/laundry room, under the stairs (although the top step under the stairs, where all our xmas stuff and other random things are kept was only just starting to get wet, so LUCKILY, VERY luckily nothing was water-damaged in there), front hall/shoe area, hall closet....Literally every square inch of it was in enough water to come up over the entire sole of my flip flops, and they’re at least if-not-more double-thick flip flops compared to the basic ones you can get!  

I’d never seen anything like it.  I know it could have been far worse (it has since been brought to my attention that ‘it could have been sewage backup’ and yes, that would have been far, far worse, and now I will probably have nightmares that it will happen to us, because PARANOIA/PTSD - both of which I’m feeling effects of over what happened.  Not kidding.)

But it literally is the craziest situation like this that I’ve ever been in, and I found myself going into a sudden state of shock and panic both at the same time.  We quickly made sure the main water to the house was completely off, I ran upstairs and peed and threw some clothes on (thank goodness for capri leggings, since my pj pants were of no use to me with so much water!)  I called the emergency line for maintenance and left a voicemail.  I called my dad, who by this point was at work an hour’s drive away.  I didn’t ask him to leave work and come over, just for advice on what we should be doing first because I was so overwhelmed, no pun intended but my head was ‘swimming!’  (But my dad ended up leaving work immediately and came to help us, which ended up being a lifesaver because my dad is awesome and so knowledgeable about so many things and a true Jack Of All Trades.  If not for him, the whole process of even finding the source of the leak would have taken longer, because the actual maintenance people were slow (which is not surprising because everything is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with the management company...no offence meant to the real Mickey at all!))

I called the manager’s mobile right after I hung up with my dad and she ended up calling me back soon after and said that she’d left a message with the plumber but didn’t have an ETA, other than that he was notified.  I texted a neighbour friend of ours from a few houses down, which sadly had a huge leak throughout his place before as well (all our neighbours have had leaks), and he came over a little while later to take a look/take some video for documentation/and also brought us some water so we could make some coffee, which was much appreciated!

We just started frantically moving things and it was crazy to discover just how much stuff we have, and how much of it can’t be near that much water!  THANK GAWD neither our family laptop nor James’ work computer were on the floor, as we often had a habit of just resting them against a piece of furniture on the floor at night time.  I say ‘had’ because NEVER AGAIN, obviously.  It would have killed me to have lost those, or our backup thingie, which thankfully was tucked safely in a cupboard and the power cord didn’t fry.  The power cord to James’ work laptop didn’t survive, though - he had a meeting at 9 that he had no choice but to attend, so when he took his computer upstairs to plug it in he found the adapter got super hot and seemed like it was going to do something bad so he unplugged it.  When he tested it again later it was for sure toast.  So he couldn’t work more than a few minutes because his computer was almost without power, although he wouldn’t have been getting much work done anyway because there was way too much house stuff to do.

We just kept moving things, and the plumber fixed the leak.  He then informed me that all the walls in the house with pipes would be cut in order to change ALL the pipes in the house, which they would be doing the next day.

I LITERALLY PAINTED OUR ENTIRE HOUSE LAST YEAR AND ALMOST EVERY WALL WAS GOING TO BE CUT OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was (and still am) so upset.  This was by far the worst leak we’ve ever experienced, but it was also our TENTH since moving here 4 years ago!  That’s insane.  And this is not the first leak to cause a lot of damage, although it wasn’t to this extent.  All the downstairs carpet had to be replaced in December of 2014 due to a leak IN THE EXACT SAME PLACE as this leak.  I guess we just caught it earlier, because it didn’t travel into the rest of the downstairs area, and it wasn’t nearly as deep either.  But still.  Something’s gotta give, I am completely NOT ok with this continuing to happen, always having to live in fear of what’s next because the workers do such shitty work time and time again.

A little later the carpet people came and ripped up all our carpet and the underlay and sucked out as much of the water as they could and then brought a big fan in.  (When they first came in they said they were going to try to save the carpets and just get as much water our as possible - SERIOUSLY! It was a few inches of water EVERYWHERE! They realized once they cut them up that they wouldn't have been able to get that much water out, but imagine if we'd said OK to that, we would have major mould issues starting by now!) We also had them get as much of the water as they could out of our living room rug THAT I JUST BOUGHT ABOUT 6 WEEKS AGO FOR $250!!!!!  I was totally freaking about my rug, since I LOVE that rug and looked around at a million stores before I found it, and now it’s tainted.  But anyway...that and my new ‘pouf’ chair, which I got for $75 with the gift card I got for my birthday from a group of my friends.  It got soaked right through and while I THINK it’s dry now, I’m not entire convinced it doesn’t have an odour to it that could get worse with time.  We will have to see.  (I’m also concerned about our couch, which luckily does have legs but it still managed to get quite wet in parts and could end up with mould issues in time).

Anyway…

So the rug was left to dry and literally only seemed dry as of yesterday, so it took 6 days to dry out.  I THINK it’s salvaged but it’s definitely not the same as it was, and it’s definitely dirty and just not the new rug I had before this happened.

The XBOX was in water, since we had it on the floor (which we never will again!) but LUCKILY it managed to survive.  We put it in front of a fan for a day and a half before we even attempted to turn it on, and it worked.  I would have been so heartbroken for the kids if they’d lost that since we just got it for them for Christmas.  The power adapter for James’ work computer fried, and he lost a full day of work because he couldn’t put in any hours once he lost power to his computer.  Luckily his work replaced the cord, but that doesn’t account for the fact that he had to use up a vacation day because of this stupid leak.

We lost several books from my childhood that had been on the floor, as well as some puzzles (although thankfully not the ones that were from my brother and my early childhood, which would have killed me a little to lose!)  There is some furniture that only time will tell whether it’s OK, as it’s possible with particle board stuff that it will warp, and we have yet to test out the subwoofer which was quite saturated with water, as well as the piano pedals, which were in water.  The feet for the piano are thankfully plastic, but water getting in where the pedals are may have rendered them useless.  Which would really be upsetting considering I gave that to James for Christmas and it cost me around $150 between buying and the shipping charges.

I know it could have been much worse.  But, you know, it also could have just NOT HAPPENED.  And the thing that really pisses me off is that IT SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED considering that area was supposedly replaced just a short time ago, which means whoever did the job didn’t do it properly.  Knowing that all of this was completely avoidable makes me angry.

I’m sure I’m forgetting things that were damaged but it’s all such a blur right now and I felt like I was just thrown into this crazy mode where I was both panicking and completely numb at the same time.  In some ways those feelings haven’t changed a whole lot since.

I should mention my dad had taken Andrew back to my parents’ place and left him with my mom, and a little later (before the carpet people had arrived) I took the girls over and the kids stayed with my mom for the day so that James, my dad and I could just work on moving things and figuring things out at home.  That was a lifesaver because I can’t imagine being as stressed as I was and in that crazy situation and also have the kids in my care the entire day! I picked them up around dinner time, swung home to get James, and we went to Boston Pizza for dinner.  The dining room was chockablock full of stuff and unusable, and the kitchen wasn’t much better, and with everything we’d been through there was no way I was up to cooking a meal.  We ate there, and then came home and James set the TV up in our bedroom so the kids would at least have some entertainment, because even their toys in their bedrooms were a disaster because everything from downstairs was randomly placed upstairs and it was just CHAOS.

So the norm has become that everyone piles onto our bed and watches TV in our what-feels-like tiny cramped bedroom.  In reality we have a big bedroom, and thank goodness for that because it’s currently storing a LOT from our living room!  So it’s crammed in and it feels claustrophobic to me when we’re all in there for hours and hours on end, since there’s really nowhere else to go in our house.  We spend the majority of our time in there for sure.

So the day after the flood, workers came and spent the entire day cutting down walls and changing pipes.  When they were done they told me that a cleaner had been in to clean up, but literally NOTHING was clean.  I wasn’t expecting there to be no dust, but I didn’t expect the toilets to be left with dust all over them, or for there to be a layer of drywall dust on every piece of fruit in our kitchen, the counters, etc.  There’s no way anyone ‘cleaned’ ANYTHING.  Also, they hadn’t covered our couch with plastic, only one chair was covered, so literally EVERYTHING else has massive amounts of dust, and not realizing it I sat down on the couch and a huge cloud of drywall dust came up at my face and I could taste it.  After having just finished cleaning the kitchen as best I could and the toilets and the stuff we would NEED clean for the next day, I had to spend the late evening vacuuming the dust out of the couch.

Oh and to add insult to injury, when I was cleaning up the kitchen I discovered that the workers had dropped something ON THE BRAND NEW COUNTERS THAT HAD LITERALLY BEEN INSTALLED LESS THAN 2 WEEKS EARLIER and CHIPPED one of the counters.  Seriously.

Also, my great grandmother’s antique sugar container had been used as a step stool (I could see by the footprints on top) and the lid was indented (and now always will be because it’s nearly 100 years if not older and obviously can’t be fixed.

I’m sure there’s more, too, I know there is…

I can’t even remember that evening...But I do know that day I talked with management and they said that replacing the drywall wouldn’t be happening till Monday or Tuesday.  The next day was Friday (St. Patrick’s Day) and James had the day booked off as a vacation day so we could do something fun during Spring Break as a family.  (Spring Break was/is all last week and this week here).  I was already feeling bummed that James had booked a day off that wouldn’t be as fun nor relaxing as we had originally planned it to be, but they have a policy at his office where if you book a day you shouldn’t change it around without some notice.  I told management that since they’d told us no one was starting the drywall the next day, that just a heads up to know we would be going out by around noon and wouldn’t be home for several hours, as given it was a vacation day, I didn’t want to be waiting around at home all day for workers to come over.  I was assured that nothing would be starting till Monday at the earliest, so that was fine.  The only thing we had to be home for was the carpet people (different than the ones who ripped it all out) who would be coming at some point to measure the area.  Which worked out because they arrived around 10:30 or so and it was done in a flash.  (And might I add, unlike ANYONE who works directly for the management company we rent from, who never introduce themselves or say why they’re here), the carpet guy introduced himself, told me the company he works for, and was immediately pleasant and made sure it was OK to come in to take the measurements.  Which is what I’d expect from anyone even remotely professional.  Which I guess is why people who work directly for the management company DON’T do that, because let’s face it, they are NOT professionals.

We also had to have a maintenance guy come and reattach the hoses to the pipes for the washer, because the guys the day before had not informed me that our washer wasn’t re-hooked up, and I needed to wash some stuff that was covered in drywall dust due to no one covering anything.  He also had to fix a fuse for the electrical in the upstairs bathroom because obviously it was blown the day before from all the equipment the workers were using, and of course our panel doesn’t say the right thing for what breaker is for what so we had tried to no avail to fix it ourselves.  Luckily all of that got done before noon when we wanted to head out, and as well the other carpet guy had come back and collected his big fan.  The place was mostly dry by that point but under the stairs still needed more time, and of course our rug that still needed days of drying.  Luckily we have several fans so we brought them downstairs and set them up where need be and ran them 24/7 for days.

So Friday afternoon we went and checked out what was happening for ‘Feel Good Fridays’ at Brentwood Mall.  They have a DJ every Friday afternoon, and some other fun ‘free’ thing (like the one time I took the kids and they had a caricaturist who drew such cute pics of the kids that we had them laminated and put on their walls!)  This week it was a free 5 minute massage, which James ended up partaking in but it was too bad there wasn’t something more fun for the kids.  That being said, they made several song requests to the DJ and he came through for them (after some waiting!) and their songs got played, which was pretty cool, and they did some dancing.  They requested Scream and Shout by Will.I.Am and Britney, Good Feeling by Flo Rida, and something else that escapes me at the moment.

We went to Taco Time for lunch because I again couldn’t fathom going home and having to cook, especially since that day we had the stove pulled out into the middle of the kitchen, as well as the fridge, in order to dry out the sides of the cabinets where water had seeped.

That evening I went on my own to Walmart and bought some plastic bins to put our Christmas stuff in because I had a lot of it in cardboard and NOTHING can be in cardboard in this house every again.  LUCKILY the water hadn’t made it’s way high enough under the stairs yet to cause damage, because everything in their is on a step above the floor.  The wooden board was only just starting to soak through with water, which would have ruined our Christmas tree  and other ornaments if the leak had gone another hour I’m guessing.  So I got 4 bins which cost me about $60 and that was with the bins being on sale.  And I’m going to need to get more before all is said and done.

On Saturday I went out for a while on my own because I just couldn’t stand being at home given the conditions, and a little later because it was so sunny out (although it ended up being freezing cold and windy despite the sun) we took the kids for a walk at Deer Lake and then to the Burnaby Village Museum so they could enjoy a few rides on the carousel.  

On Sunday I took Andrew to his dance class to be able to get out for a while, and then I don’t even remember the rest of the day.  Everything is a blur to me right now!  I think we had the kids playing out in the backyard a bit, even though it was still cold it was sunny again.  We just can’t keep them cooped up inside upstairs in our room all hours of the day, but there also isn’t much we can do when the weather isn’t cooperating to be outside (and of course now we’re back to rain so the yard isn’t even an option).

On Monday the manager came by to look at what had been done and I had a chat with her about things.  I had left a note for her at the office on the weekend so she had got that, which detailed my displeasure with how things were being handled in terms of the damage being caused by the people who were supposed to be ‘fixing’ things, and the fact that I want some monetary compensation for what we’re going through this time.  The fact is, with all the leaks we’ve had in these past 4 years we’ve had a lot of upheaval and have spent a lot of time waiting around for workers and cleaning up after them because NO ONE EVER CLEANS UP AFTER THEMSELVES around here.  I am so beyond tired of how much of a disruption this is, and I’m not ok with paying full rent for a living space that is half, if not more, unusable.  Enough is enough and I feel we deserve some compensation for what we’ve been put through.  We’ve had way more than our fair share of issues here, and the vast majority of them were avoidable because if they had people doing the work the first time who were actually qualified and knew what they were doing, we wouldn’t be in this situation at all.  Why should we have to pay for their mistakes?!  

I was basically told that it was beyond her control but that the drywall wouldn’t even START to be redone until ‘at least’ next week, meaning this whole week we are left in limbo, and even then there is no actual date for when they’ll be starting.  She said there would be no monetary compensation unless I take the issue to arbitration.  She first said that there would be absolutely no reimbursement for the paint I would have to buy in order to repaint it the colour I chose (because there’s no freaking way I am going back to the beige they would paint it!)  I spent hundreds to paint our house last year, only finished it a couple of months ago, and when I think I put so much effort into it and all my ‘spare time’ of which I have so little to begin with, and then I have to rebuy the paint because of the errors of the unskilled workers who didn’t fix the pipes properly last time?!  Seriously?!  That just doesn’t sit well with me AT ALL.  By the end of our conversation she said that she could make it work that they would buy one can of paint, which sure if better than none at all but it’s still completely not good enough.

Obviously she herself wanted to make some effort to appease me, so that afternoon she had her maintenance guys come and ‘fix’ the drywall above the light fixture in the kitchen.  Which all I will say about that is, luckily no one can actually see it.  They fixed the drywall by duct taping pieces of drywall to the outline of drywall that was still there.  I couldn’t have done that myself, really, but whatever.  I can’t even question it at this point.  Luckily other than leaving some drywall bits and dust in the sink and our new kitchen faucet that we bought and installed ourselves after our new counters were installed 2 weeks ago (because our old one leaked and had a bucket catching water from under the sink area for YEARS because no one would ever come to fix it...and the guy told me it needed replaced but that they only had the same style which would have the same problem so I was better off buying what I wanted myself...so I did...for a rental unit...and you better believe I will take it with me when we move from here one day, too, even if I don’t need it where we’re going!!) they actually did clean up after themselves, which I am sure they were told they’d better for fear I would drop off another letter of my disdain!!!  But seriously, who could blame me for that?!   This is beyond unacceptable at this point.

So I basically told the manager I WOULD be taking this to arbitration if nothing is offered to us for compensation because this is beyond being unfair.  After setting up to have the maintenance guys come to ‘fix’ the drywall above the kitchen lights, she called again to say that the flooring in the very front of the house (vinyl) could be installed the next (yesterday) morning.  She had told me when she was here on Monday that they’d be done, but last because it was the least priority of everything we needed done.  But it turned out it was the only thing available to be done and that they’d be too busy to do it if it was left any later so best to get it done now.  So that was done all day yesterday, while the kids and I were basically confined to upstairs, which by early afternoon was proving to be hellish because we were all totally stir crazy.  But at least the floors in the front did get done, and I’m glad we have actual baseboards now and not the ugly plastic ones we used to have.  Which we still have in the bathrooms but I’m hoping to have them replaced soon, too.  We can get tile put into the downstairs bathroom but I’m kind of hoping to leave the linoleum since it’s easier to clean.  We’ll see what happens there.

The workers were friendly enough, and over all I do like the more modern look of the new floor, but of course it’s not without its flaws, too.  There are areas that are cut too short and don’t match up, and the way it’s cut around the bathroom door area is questionable.  I also had to use an exacto knife to cut down one piece that was way too long on one part and was already lifting up.  Several pieces need more glue under them.  A friend who installs flooring as a living came over to check out their job and even had to lift one of the pieces up because it was sticking up so high in the middle and it turned out there were a pebble underneath the vinyl.  This is what we’re up against!  If you don’t look too closely at the things, they tend to look OK, but the closer you look the more you’re going to notice that things aren’t quite how they should be, and that pretty much sums up everything around here, aside from the stuff we’ve done ourselves.

I should make note as well of the fact that the back door is creating so much condensation (which I’ve been mentioning to management for at least 3 years now, but was obviously a problem long before we even moved here) that it is now rotting the wood frame around the door/window, which is part of what holds the house together!  I mentioned to the manager what the problem is and the only way to fix it but didn’t get an actual answer as to what will be done about it.  There are so many other problems that desperately need attention, too, such as our carport roof that eventually WILL cave in, it’s not a matter of if, but when, and the gutters that all need to be replaced.  They were cleaned recently, but our neighbour’s gutter has fallen and is hanging into their yard, and ours leaks through the middle and isn’t even functioning and now I worry it could fall, too, and potentially hurt the kids if they happened to be outside.  SO MANY THINGS.

As the saying goes, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day,’ and I’m aware that despite how much needs to be done, it can’t all be done immediately.  But I would at the very least expect they’d get the drywall done right away so that the painting could be completed, so that the carpet could be installed, so that we could get our house back to working order and feel like we’re actually LIVING here, and then get the rest done in a timely fashion.  It really doesn’t have to be as complicated as it’s made out to be, it just has to actually happen.

Another side note, the dryer ducts by law have to be cleaned out 'in a timely fashion' - most places I know of do it once per year...and it’s been well over 2 years now since ours were done, and they’ve been done once since we’ve lived here and who knows how long it had been before that.  They only did it the one time because I asked them to.  Our neighbours who I’ve talked to have lived here several years longer than us and have literally NEVER had theirs done.  That’s a fire hazard!  Our furnace only gets serviced if we request it and even then they do it only once per year when it should be every 6 months according to one furnace inspector I spoke with.  They had our chimney cleaned for us once a few years ago, which should be done every 2 years at most but have no said they will no longer do that for us and we have to pay to have it done ourselves.  Like I said, there are SO MANY THINGS.  And yet they’ve raised our rent starting May 1 by $62 per month, and what are we getting?!  We are going to be paying that much more soon, and they won’t even compensate us for all the crap we’ve been dealt since we moved in.  What a total slap in the face.

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