First, I do want to thank everyone who is following our story as we push through this. It does help just knowing that people care and are with us. Here we go…
Dean and I are getting better at accepting help. At first, people would offer to send us a gift card for supplies and we would be like, ‘no, it’s cool, insurance is probably going to reimburse us…’ or ‘no, we’ll find a hotel or something, we’ll be fine…’ Then the Red Cross money disappeared in like, a matter of hours, and some amazing people just sent us gift cards without asking. Very shortly, we learned to say, “Target or Wal-Mart would be great,” and “yes, your air mattress would be lovely right now, we’ll be right over, thank you.”
On Wednesday, my understanding boss in Chicago told me do not come in and take care of what needed to taken care of. After going to our leasing office while Jake was at the hotel to see if there was any new information, we determined that we weren’t going to be able to get back into our place that day. We made arrangements to meet my parents halfway between Nashville and Montgomery and bring Jake to them. He had just started getting used to the new place, then we hauled him off to this weird hotel after a day of being cramped in a carrier in the leasing office. We didn’t know where we were going to be for the next few days or in what conditions. Jake had been to my parents’ house many times and he knows them and knows the house. I wouldn’t have to worry about him there and he would be happy.
Wednesday night we slept at our friend Patti’s place in her spare room. She made us dinner and let us wash the clothes that we had. She also lent us a set of sheets and an air mattress for the apartment that we were being moved into. Thursday morning I had to be at work at 6:30 am and Dean didn’t really have any place to go, so he came with me. We ended up getting there early and Dean took a shower then went to the Starbucks in the building to get us breakfast. The building managers let Dean sit in one of their rooms and use the WiFi to begin making calls to insurance and utilities companies while I was at work. I had to get a new housekeeper on payroll for the gym and show her the ropes. It took longer than anticipated and I ended up staying an hour late at work. From there Dean and I drove straight to the new apartment.
I really needed a run, not having been able to work out at all, and so Dean and I each had a granola bar (thank you, Patti) to tide us over and then he went to Wal Mart for shower supplies. The run was good. I even stopped by a river at one point to take a moment and remember why we came here in the first place. And to appreciate those who had been so generous in helping us so far. When I finished the run, I had beat Dean home. He sent me a message saying that we were going to be able to get into our place. I waited for him, we put away what we needed to refrigerate and headed over to the office. Our apartment manager walked over with us and unlocked the padlock and let us in. Everything was covered in a layer of soot. We grabbed a few things that we needed, the charging cord to my laptop, some toilet paper that was still shrink wrapped, etc. Anything we took, we wiped down and Febreezed first. Or we took it out of the packaging and threw the packaging away. It was a little overwhelming. Anything we moved left a lighter colored impression of itself where it had been. We opened any window that wasn’t boarded up, which was basically just the sliding glass door on the patio. It smelled awful. I can’t imagine what the units were like right by the fire.
I’m still not really sure how bad everything upstairs was because the windows were completely boarded up and there was no electricity. We were wandering around up there with the flashlights on our phones. I have no pictures of the upstairs and we didn’t really try and take much. I did grab my wedding rings.
We had several conversations with insurance adjusters that day (Dean did mostly) and with our building manager. The management team has been great and continues to help in every way they can. Dean had bought pillows and a blanket at Wal Mart and we slept on the air mattress in the new place that night. We did stop by the liquor store where I had obtained boxes to use as furniture when I first moved and grabbed some boxes to use as furniture. We didn’t even buy any booze there, just grabbed boxes, which I find kind of funny.
We started early this morning, I had to get my bike helmet and safety vest from the old place. They were both in a closet that wasn’t too bad, although I still think they smell like a campfire. We hit them with Fabreeze and wiped them down as much as possible. Then we went to talk to our building manager. We were having a difficult time with our adjuster, getting anyone out to assess the place and getting a cleaner out. Our manager had a contact with our insurance company so she sat with us and called them. I eventually had to leave Dean to it and go to work.
While I’ve been at work, Dean worked with the owner of the cleaning company, who came out and did a digital profile of every room. Then the crew came over and began taking everything out of our place. They will run it all through some kind of assembly line and anything that can be cleaned will be returned to us. Dean grabbed one garbage bag full of clothes for us from what was in the dirty clothes hamper so that we can wash them at my parents’ house so that we have more than one change of clothes to wear. The cleaning process will start on Monday. Sometime next week we’ll find out what we have.
Once I get home from work (yep, I’ve been writing this at work in between things), we’re going to jump into the car and head to Montgomery for the weekend. We’ll get to see Jake and my parents and sleep in an actual bed and not be surrounded by a smokey smell. We’ll head to Target with those lifesaving gift cards and get things like sheets and towels and shower curtains and soap and on and on. If we both had income, I probably wouldn’t be so worried, but right now, I really appreciate those gift cards so much, you guys have no idea. Proper thank yous will be coming soon.