Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Homeless but not Houseless, Displaced but not Forgotten

On Sunday, September 14th, we left the devastation that was our neighborhood and sought refuge in the town where I work. We were relieved to get out without injury. Trees were splintering, splitting, flying, falling, cracking and causing mayhem in every direction. Our (recently wrecked) van incurred a little more body damage, but nothing serious. We were happy to get safely out of the country and in to our closest city which has a lot fewer trees.

Going on ten days later, we still have no power. Since we have well water that also equals no water. Our food was ruined...we have a $500 deductible on our insurance policy, which applies to lost food. So no help there.

We have a massive tree hanging on power lines and partly clinging to another tree. The rest of our village now has power, so those are live power lines. If/when the tree comes down (which it looks more and more like it's going to do) it will crush anything in the vicinity...and the power lines will then be a danger to everyone nearby. Here's some pics to help you visualize the tree situation: (although you can't see the power lines, really.)

The insurance company assures us, despite the circumstance described above, that we cannot file a claim for "loss of use." Why? because the tree didn't fall on the house. Yep. That's the ticket.

Calls to our local power company (Dayton Power and Light) and the local sheriff's office yield nothing but frustration. In fact, I called the sheriff's department last week and told the dispatcher that I was concerned about the tree. I was afraid that if/when it falls and a motorist happens to be driving by, it could injure or kill someone. I told them I was not home because I was not staying at home. I gave them my cel phone number if they had any questions, and told them to be sure to call me. I figured a cone or a roped off area would prevent people from driving on that side of the road, closest to the tree, and that it would keep folks a bit safer in the process.

What did the police do? They sent out a deputy, who parked under the tree for ten minutes and proceeded to knock on our door. For ten minutes. Then he left.

Oh, the brilliance that is our local law enforcement!

For two days here, school was out and that helped. I farmed my kids off in all directions, with relatives who had power, as it is difficult to find anyone who can accommodate a family of five....and anyone who is able to take on such a burden usually has a houseful already.

On Wednesday of last week, school started up again, with a 2 hour delay each day until Friday. Classes were held without power. Robert and I slept on the couch here in the conference room at work. I filled up the gas tank in our Jeep four times last week, running the kids back and forth from various relatives' homes to school.

Oh, and yes: gas. They are jacking up the prices around here because there was a temporary shortage for a few days due to lack of filling stations that had power. So, that's fun.

Things are so disorganized that I have no idea if the kids are getting their homework done, turned in, etc. I don't know if they have everything they need on any given day....book bags, Jo's snare drums for band...Josh's football gear...etc. I don't know whether I'm coming or going.

Last night we stayed with my neighbor (Ruth) who is the step mom of my oldest friend, Wyn. Well, Robert, myself, Jess and Jo stayed. Josh stayed with my across-the-street neighbor, Deb, who has three kids, two who go to school with my crew.

Ruth's home is right around the block from our house. With this temporary arrangement, the kids can catch the bus at their usual stop and I don't have to drive them. That will save us in gas money. We can bring food and put it in Ruth's fridge, and cook at home. This will save us from having to eat out all the time, which was ridiculously expensive- and for a while, only a handful of restaurants were open in our area.

So now I have a daily place to take showers without asking friends in town that have power to take a shower at their place. I can do laundry, without going to the laundromat. I can stop carrying around a bag of toiletries everywhere I go. I can be closer to my animals.

So, to the people that have blessed us so far during this time, I thank you.

  • I thank you, Sandy, for use of your shower. It was an amazing gift, because I don't cope well if I feel gross.

  • Deb, thank you for the meal you cooked on the grill even though you didn't have power at that time, either. Thank you for allowing us unlimited access to your outside water spicket so we can keep the toilet flushed and the animals watered. Thank you for letting my kids hang out with your kids as much as needed. I never worry about the kids when they're with you. Thanks for taking pictures of the tree and power lines when I had forgotten that I probably should do that. Thank you for other things like feeding the kids snacks and probably other stuff that I don't know about. Thanks for keeping an eye on the animals and helping out with feeding them on the night I couldn't make it back in to town. I don't know what I would do without you.

  • I thank you, Tarija, for the use of your shower and for helping with the kids. You are a single mom, but you pitched in and helped without qualm or discussion. I am glad that for a few precious days I didn't have to worry about Jess or Jo at all...as you stepped in and took care of them when I could barely take care of myself.

  • Brenda, thank you for several home cooked meals, which meant my stomach could stop protesting against one too many fast food meals. Thank you for doing a load of laundry for me two days after the disaster so I could have clean underwear. :) That's friendship.

  • Thank you, Ruth, for offering your help as soon as your power came back on. Despite the fact that you just had cataract surgery, you did not hesitate to open your home. I always felt like your home was my second home growing up. Now I feel like it's my safe haven until things return to normal. The fact that I could take a hot bath and actually shave my legs restored my sanity just a bit. Having a few days' worth of clean clothes in a neat little pile in your laundry room is a huge relief.

Okay, so those are the "thank you" sentiments I wanted to share.

Here's the angst:

  • Thank you, little village, for all of your gossip during this time.

  • Thank you for saying "It must be 'our fault' that the power is out."

  • Thank you, you caring woman, for laughing out loud with your windows down in your truck when you saw the tree on the lines. That was classy.

  • Thank you for getting the rumor mill going that we left the house and hadn't been taking care of our pets in our absence. OKAY...what were we doing there EVERY NIGHT SAVE ONE after the storm? Why did Deb's kids come over with a bags of food and jugs of water on that night? Why was our Jeep parked in the side yard? Why were we carrying in jug after jug of water for the last ten days? HMMM? Why haven't the animals died of malnutrition or lack of water?

  • Oh, I like the rumor that "DP&L isn't doing anything about the tree because they must not have paid their bill." Okay. I see. I guess we go to work EVERY BLESSED DAY FOR the fun of it. Not to pay our bills. Yeah. In the three years we've lived in that house, we've NEVER ONCE had a disconnect. But we chose this month not to pay our bill? Sure sounds logical to me, "neighbors."

  • Thank you, Josh's crazy ex girlfriend, for deciding to get your new (skinhead) boyfriend and his friends to come after Josh last week in school. Thank you for making me take 2 hours of my day to speak with the principal and try to get some protection for my son....the son who just had five stitches from a football injury last week.....the son whose eye is so bloody already that he can barely see out of it. Thank you for that.

  • Thank you, stupid boys, for making my husband leave work and run up the school to chauffeur Josh home so your gang of thugs wouldn't harm Josh before the football game. Thank you for making us walk around at the festival with Josh this past Saturday, because we didn't know when you were going to pounce again, and we weren't going to let it happen on our watch.

  • And thank you, simple minded principal, who despite all those facts, only suspended those violent boys for one half a day. Even though those boys shoved even you when you tried to intervene in the ruckus.....even though Josh produced threatening text messages he received with the "N" word used repeatedly, along with threats of violence. Thank you for your lack of sensitivity and common sense.

Perhaps you can tell I have a little anger about all of this. Right now I am wavering. I am pondering. I am so unsure of my next move. I have so little faith left. I don't know if I even want to remain in the town that I once thought of as a quiet little rural oasis. I don't want to make any decisions at all until I am not so emotional.

I can't be expected to make any decision right now. It's been too hellish a month.

Did I already mention:

Josh got his driver's license in August. He wrecked our van three weeks later. It was $700+ plus to fix, (rear axle) and $150 for tows. Josh appeared in juvenile court this past Friday for "failure to yield." That was $100. In August, Jess turned sixteen. There was money to have her little get together. Birthday money to dispense, which is a conservative, but standard amount we give the teens for their birthdays.

School started in August. There was money to get school clothes, shoes and supplies for all three. August is always a tight squeeze for us. Then I had an unexpected $900 bill for a snafu on my taxes from 2006.

Joy, joy and more joy! Despite my best efforts, we have finally joined many of our fellow Americans in being behind on our mortgage payment. We're working on getting behind on other bills, too. I have applications in all over the place for a second job. No takers so far.

I am at the point of not knowing for sure which way to turn. I feel numb. I don't know what to do from one day to the next. I don't have any certainty or even any sort of plan.

I think I just laid it all out here on the table, in part, because I have to say this stuff out loud, to someone. Part of it is just venting, as I do from time to time. Part of it is that I'm simply taking inventory.

You know, there are millions of people that have it worse in the world. There are hurting people everywhere...some close to me...some I don't know. Lately I have noticed that it seems like death and carnage and depression and hardship seem to be multiplying. I think other people have noticed it, too. Life seems to be getting progressively harder for people to cope with. Myself included.

I'm done with this post. I've rambled my ramble and griped my gripe. I've said my piece and thanked my peeps.

Thank you for going along for the ride.

1 comment:

neicybelle said...

it's not your imagination...there's something going on even in this neck of the woods. gloom, doom, depression...good grief! even illness! the flu season has started here! i've already been on antibiotics! i'm so sorry to hear about all that you are going through...but i'm so glad you finally opened up and let me know the extent of what all is going on. i will pray and be here for you...you know that. *hugs*

keep me informed and up to date...ok?