My friend Frannie and I spent the day helping at a house at Pennington Bend, a flooded-out neighborhood right by flooded-out Opryland. (There’s a photo of Pennington Bend in my previous entry). I learned a few things:
1. There are two kinds of house cleanouts: a) flood-insurance cleanouts and b) non-insured cleanouts. Insured houses mean that you have to be meticulous about keeping a list of ruined contents to give to the insurance company. The house we were helping at was one of the few in the neighborhood with insurance, so we kept a list of every single item in the house that had been ruined by the flood. The previous list-maker included stuff like “1 16 oz. package Kraft Cheese singles.” This seemed excessive to me at first, then I thought hey–if a flood had wiped out my cheese, I’d put in for some new cheese. Heckyeah I would. We had a moment about whether “box of saltines” was enough or whether it should be “1 pound box of saltines.” We went for specificity–no way were they going to end up with a half-pound box of replacement saltines.
Frannie took home a cast-iron skillet to re-season and return to its owner. I think it has a pretty good chance of making it.
The non-insured cleanout under way next door meant that a huge pile of dead house and contents grew in a completely unsorted way. It looked kind of cathartic over there; no constant stopping to write down “T-shirt, men’s, size Large.” Just ditch it. The drywall was flying.
2. The churches are HUGE in the cleanup effort here. A shout out to First Baptist Church for the cute retired couple who came by with a wheelbarrow full of granola bars and water. The United Methodists handed out five-gallon buckets loaded with everything from face masks to clothesline and clothespins. Grace Church of the Nazarene is having the neighborhood over Saturday night for spaghetti. The parade of kind people was inspiring.
3. Absolute gridlock is possible in a cul-de-sac neighborhood choked with people cleaning up after a flood. At one point we were stuck on a narrow street, front bumper to front bumper with a guy in a Dodge Ram truck, who was laughing, because he had four cars behind him and I had three. We would still be there except for the guy who climbed out of his car and directed us out of the mess like the world’s coolest city cop.
4. Flood insurance is not all that expensive. All I can say is that if you live anywhere near a body of water, PLEASE look into it. We heard chilling stories around us of those who will have to rebuild without any insurance money. (Kay, I’m pretty sure that living 12 floors in the air is probably safe.)
5. At one point, the homeowner we were working with got emotional about all the people stopping by asking to help. “It really is incredible,” she said, watching a guy head to the house next door. “Kindness of strangers.” That’s when I got all wobbly. I don’t know if she understood how powerful the need is for us to feel like we have something to do.
6. At this point, after loading up two kitchens, I think kitchens are my cleanout specialty. There were occasional stumpers–a Fry Daddy filled with oil is a challenge (list the oil on the insurance form or not?)–but it made my day to unearth this item:
and put it in a nice, dry box.
PS These people are in many cases starting over again from zero. Please make a donation here to aid with flood relief.