Sunday, February 13, 2011

Frozen and Flooded -36F

The lowest temperature day ever recorded across parts of the state of New Mexico dropped to -36 degrees Farenheight about 03 Feb 2011. In 1971 it only got to -20F for one week. Disaster was widespread in the normally Sunshine state of New Mexico, back then as well as now again... this time, parts of the state lost natural gas pressure due to 'rolling electrical brownouts' in Texas. All of those supposedly CO2 Green Wind Turbines just can't 'cut it'..? Whodaguessed?

Friday February 4th was our day for grocery shopping. After a mgr. promoted, nearly free lunch at Applebees, then grocery stop, we returned to a flooded hallway and two bedrooms. The sheetrock wall was blown loose, with a deluge from a burst outside hose spigot feed line. My wife yelled OH NO 'shut off the water'. I ran to the garage and grabbed the street shutoff key. She yelled 'Hurry' as if I was moving too slowly.

The sidewalk meter cover was buried under the snow from the storm (we had over 10"), so a minute was lost locating and digging it clear. Finally shut off, I ran in to check the flood. An inch of water was in the hallway and computer office/bedroom. A call to number two son, found his 16 gallon Craftsman Shop-vac. Son stopped in after work to check on our progress, help move a bed, cedar chest and file cabinet, then returned again with another Craftsman shop vac unit to assist.

Many dumpings of the cannisters later, we were finally not walking in water. My emergency trip to the Lowes plumbing dept almost proved fruitless. The crowds of desperate do it yourselfers were ten deep. The little display mounted fittings that show what each box contains, were all being stolen from their screw mounts. Crisis mob desperation? No spare parts were left in bins to repair the 1/2" copper tubing. My desperate look, attracted one of the plumbing dept helpers that the store mgr graciously kept overtime.

He grabbed the last interior press-on valve shut-off, and told me to just cut off and clean the pipe and press it over the end to temporarily shut off the water line. That done, I was able to turn on the outside feed line pressure, while son held his hand on the fitting and watched for any failure..success.

The carpets and area rugs were still soaked, so for the next four days we sucked water with the vacs, then alternately reversed the vacs and blew air under the pads to attempt a drying. No commercial 'air movers' were available. A local yard and paint man, assisted me with the rest of the furniture moving.

The house now looks like a furniture storage warehouse with piles of 'stuff' everywhere. The carpets were so wet, they each weighed hundreds of pounds. Wife called Hartford Insurance co. Lady said to start on it ourselves to limit damage, keep records of expense, and she gave us names of a few companies specializing in such floods.

Predictably due to the statewide disaster, they were all so busy, that no chance of even getting on a list. Wife then found a company called 'Precise Carpet'. They sounded so promising on the phone, and eventually showed up.... a day later. Three men, two vehicles, they stood around, shook their heads and carried out the one pad we had already dried and exposed in one room.

They moved a small safe from one room to another and sprayed around the baseboards a few seconds from a little can of clorox disinfectant. The one pad was then tossed into the front yard. Shock followed their bill for $284 dollars for 40 minutes of 'whatever' later. The notation that they would return the next day and pick up the pad and take to the dump.... for $150 dollars more..., educated us in the term 'Crisis Profitability'.

I called their office and left the message 'your work is done at this house' (they never called back). Another big plumbing co used by the city of Albuquerque, 'TLC' is presently charging 'Triple time' during this statewide emergency, so further beware of 'crisis predators' in this commercial society.

The excellent 16 gal Craftsman Vac suffered distress during the extended job, so Sears was called. Great guy at the main store 'EJ', said bring it in. He carried out a new unit for exchange. Wonderful to do business at Sears. Due to our long endless hours of personal laborious attention, floors and carpet now dried before 72 hour mold set in, the busy Insurance adjuster showed up.

Another great and helpful guy with Hartford. He took measurements and notes of all damaged areas, and copies of our initial bills, including the 'crisis' padded bill from 'Precise Carpet'. Said Hartford was swamped statewide... literally, but that a check would probably be in the mail. The plumber is coming on monday to install freeze proof shutoffs in front and back. With ever colder winters (Global Warming sarcasm), we don't want to go through this again.

The computer is now set up on the dining room table. Printer is still hiding somewhere until it's home is finished. My painter/helper is allowing some time for reassembly of furniture after room repaints are ready.

Shopping for replacement carpeting is a pleasure. Every store had helpfull people with excellent information about quality and price, wood versus laminate, installation methods and materials. Decision is now for some snap-click laminate floors, that I can do myself, and some carpeting to be professionally installed.

It has been over a week now, and ready to start laying the laminate in two rooms. Underlay padding choice will be tomorrow. Still have decision of carpet and pad to equal what was destroyed. My totally worn out wife is getting tired of the maze of furniture. :More later as project continues..

Such is exciting life in the United States of America. "One Nation Under God"


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