What a mess… We had left for a vacation and didn’t think a thing of it, while we turned off lights and heat, left a key with the neighbors, and kenneled our dog. Two days later I got a call on my cell phone. The neighborhood had been flooded by a huge spring storm and certain of our effects were sure to be ruined, the water level being well above the slab under our house. Well, we flew straight back and assessed the damage ourselves. I was surprised that our stuff wasn’t floating down the street in the river that now flowed past our front door. Our furniture, our rugs and floors, three inches of our cabinet wood, about two-and-a-half shelves of books, and a whole drawer of filed documents were soaked beyond recognition, and stinking.
It was hard to know where to start. First we had to pump out the water; this was possible since at least the level had dropped to below the slab. Then we had to haul everything out to take care of the house’s structure and determine the damage there. Finally, everything had to be restored, somehow. And the thing that first occurred to me as important was that file cabinet. We simply had to find a document drying and restoration company that could help us with it, since many deeds and trust instruments had been kept there instead of somewhere safe. Never again.
Document drying and restoration is an art form, more than a science or a simple industry. We discovered, on hunting for a document drying and restoration company, that there are things they can do and things they can’t do. Fortunately for us, the water had only been there for a day or so. If we had left it for longer, we’d have been in serious trouble. And the CDs and discs which housed much of our important information weren’t damaged at all, though the computer tower was a total loss. So the document drying and restoration firm that we finally hired was optimistic that they could help us come up with readable documents out of this travesty.
What I appreciated most about this firm was that they were so much more upbeat than I about the situation. They brought a two-man team, with waders on, just in case. They checked out the file cabinet, moving very, very slowly so as not to inadvertently tear something. They removed everything to a safe location above the water line. They asked about each document, what it was and what the priority was in restoration. They marked everything down on a clipboard and then – and this was the falling backwards part for me – they took everything with them. Granted, we had signed a very detailed statement. But would we see our stuff again? Was there any risk of theft to us?
When we got our documents back, they looked like new. I was so relieved. Until I took a call from the rug cleaners.