Monday, June 30, 2008

Pam Sent Picts...

Thanks Pam.

Here are some photos to go with the Monday June 30th update on the previous entry.


First a photo looking in the back door. The house is closed up and fumigated and full of dehumidifiers.










Here are Fred and Sher putting the fish cleaning counter back up in the garage.








This is a priority so that fish are cleaned IN THE GARAGE and not in the kitchen or somewhere worse.

Pam could not get into the house due to fumigation and dehumidification.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Last Day in Iowa

I apologize to my reading public that I did not get a blog posted yesterday...which was my last day in Iowa...between working at the house, packing my crap, getting a bit of my crap out of the basement at Pam's, driving to Elkader to visit Gram and Aunt Billie, I'm afraid there was no time to blog.

BUT I did get pictures uploaded so I could finish today.

I'm coming to you from Wall, South Dakota. Welsh's Motel. It's not AS cool as The Hillcrest (no valance store) but the wifi is accessible, not just extant. I do enjoy the instructions on the outside of the door. "To open door. Insert key in slot. Turn key. Push door." Perhaps some of their clientele are incredibly STUPID.

Back to the flood report.

Yesterday, at one point there were 17 people in the house working:
me, Pam, Rob, Sher, Fred, Shelly, Brian, Megan, Joni, David, Julie, Cathy, Joe, Kenny, Bill, Sara Jane, Slugs(aka Bob)


The floors had to come up. Here are Brian, Fred, and Bill (always in overalls) working on the kitchen.














Actually, it appears only Bill was working. The other two must be union bosses.

Joni and someone working on removing the bottom 2' of the walls.














The sparkly effect is not some fancy photography. That is plaster dust reflecting the flash.
Pam had a small heart attack while taking out wall board in the dining room. She pulled out a bit of insulation and it moved! She couldn't breathe for a minute. She thought it was a nest of snakes. Turns out it was only a nest of giant night crawlers. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's Sara Jane trying to get her hands on the REO truck again.














It's loaded with the floor boards. The ENTIRE hardwood floor was removed in a day! Pretty amazing.

And Sher helping wash poosludge out of and off of ducts. Gross gross gross.














That crap stinks.

And here is what Rob referred to as the "money shot"...














The snowblower had been living in the front end of Fred's fishing boat. Fred was pretty sure that the snowblower was stuck because he could not move it. Turns out, Fred is just a puny weakling. You get four guys with some weight on them and that baby popped right out.

Sunday's food report: 3 new cakes showed up! One is cheesecake to go with the fresh picked strawberries from the day before. Another plain marble cake. Ever more food came in and we had sandwiches at 10 in the morning. For 2nd lunch at 1pm, Fred fried some fresh caught walleye and bass and more sandwiches and salads. And cake...and ice cream. I honestly have now had enough cake. I'm sick of it. I just had crackers for dessert today at the hotel.

While I was packing up Cathy made sure I had breakfast bars for the road and they are delicious (homemade of course). I must get the recipes.

I talked to Sher today and got the update:
The dehumidifiers went in today. They had to sweep up the basement first and they brought in the cabinets from the garage to get them dried out too.
So it's fantastic the walls are open and the floors up! Ready to dry out the wall guts and subfloor. Thanks especially to Brian, Shelly and Megan who worked their butts off for two days and stayed in very good cheer and brought their own eats. Julie, Dave, Cathy, Joe, Kenny and Bill helped along the way, too.

Sher said it was a calmer day than the weekend. That's quite good. Everyone needs rest.

I visited Gram...haven't seen here in years. She's tinier than ever. Then I went out to Billie and Keith's for the evening and a free bed. Thanks Billie! Nice to see them all.
I missed seeing some of the cousins but one can't be everywhere and this was not a leisure trip.

Sorry it's not as funny as usual, but I am crusty from the drive and just want a shower and some sleep.








Saturday, June 28, 2008

REO Speedwagon!

(WARNING: This thing isn't letting me edit font or spacing again so just keep scrolling to get to the text) (cripes)

Remember that '80s band REO Speedwagon...well, just keep them in mind. We'll get to that in a bit.




Today's activities:


1) Tearing out the bottom 2feet of walls


2) Washing poowater off pipes and whatnot in the basement

3) Tearing up floors

4) Eating lovely food

...and much much more.



Here are some images of the walls:

















That's the living room. The poowater was 9" deep on the main level and the advice has been to take out the wallboard/plaster 2feet up. That way you cut one drywall sheet in half (they apparently come in 4x8foot sheets) and get the most bang for your labor-buck.

NORMALLY you would NOT see a scoop shovel cavalierly sitting on Sher's lovely 3/4inch oak floor. But...the floor was dead (dead floor lying there) so the rules don't apply.


Here's the wall removal system. First,

















Shelly and Brian, our lovely cousin and cousin-in-law from Minnesota (he's a construction worker, ya), cut the wall at 2 feet with a skill saw set to the right depth to hit wall, but not studs or electrical work. Shelly follows with a shop vac to keep most of the dust under control. This worked pretty well. You can see in both pictures the plastic taped over things to also help with dust control.



THEN, the demolition team goes to work.








Here are Megan (SORRY about the spelling...I have no idea how Megan/Meghan/Meghanne/?? spells her name), Shelly and Brian's daughter, and Pam using small sledge hammers and crowbars to tear out the wall board below the cut.

Then someone takes a scoop shovel, clears up the wall debris and loads it on the truck headed for the dump.

I tried some wallboard but my arm (bad tendon) could take about 10 whacks with the sledge and suddenly I had hook hand. So, back to the basement poowater patrol for me!















Obviously, that is not me in the photo. That is Sher (note the coordinated top and gloves...she was voted best dressed in high school you know...her public counts on her to have a lovely ensemble for every occasion). She's using one of the Red Cross clean-up buckets.
Pam was also on poowater patrol for a while. We have about 75% of the basement pipes and cables washed. Once we're done with those, we need to do the duct work that can't be removed (that house is well built). (Like me...heh heh).


At some point a decision had to be made about the hardwood. The advice from Brian tipped the scales. He's a builder and said the moisture would have to be taken down to 6 or 7% in the wood to know for sure that the mold would not come back. That is pretty tough and would cost thousands. Almost as many thousands as a new floor. And it might not work. Also, the paper between the wood floor and the subfloor could be full of mold. So the floor has to go. We'll see how much of that they get done tomorrow. One a bit of wall left to go out.


We'll get to the food at the end. First, here is the COOL truck they got to use for hauling trash.

And our cousin Sara Jane at the helm (she didn't drive, just pretended).















Look at those guns! The girl has some serious biceps.
















This truck is an ACTUAL REO Speedwagon. The manufacture is REO (people here pronounce it "rio" as in "rio grand" not "r" "e" "o" like the band). They used to make fire trucks. The story is some guy drove this from Pennsylvania...at a top speed of 40miles an hour. Anyway, it's cool and hauls a lot of trash. The wallboard and floor don't sit around to depress anyone. It's gone as soon as it's out. The truck belongs to Al and Jackie Miller. Such a generous loan. Most people with a truck like this wouldn't do actual work with it much less let someone else drive it. We did get a kick out of the box of Decon rodent poison sitting on the floor.

Now for the food report:
Breakfast was on your own.
Lunch: there were two. Brian likes to have a sandwich at 10am so we all had a sandwich at 10am. Shelly and Brian brought fruit, sandwich makings, and fresh veg so that was first lunch.
Second lunch at about 1pm was the same only I brought some cake because I like a bit of cake. (go to time point 2:00 or so to get to the point).

Sara Jane had brought fresh picked strawberries with her so we ate PLENTY of those. Delicious.

At about 5 or 5:30 the boys, Fred and Brian, went fishing. Us girls had some cake and coffee then showered (no...not all together. In fact we showered in 3 different establishments).

For supper we ordered from Pizza Ranch and used Sam and Gary's gift certificate (just a small portion of it actually!). Chicken, pizza, broasted potatoes, coleslaw, and cheese bread. Rob (Pam's squeeze) picked up Dairy Queen treats for dessert. I had some more cake. Can't eat that much dairy.

I'm sure there was more food but I'm coming down off the sugar high so I'm having trouble focusing.
Must be time for me to get back on the Wii Fit and see how much weight I gained today.

Oh! One final note for those following my No 'Poo (that means "no shampoo") adventure...Pam looked at my hair which I did not wash today, just brushed, and said, "your hair looks pretty good considering." But when I did brush it out...I was showered in plaster dust. I'll wash it tomorrow night. No point in doing it today.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Not So Much Happened Today

Not much happened today for me...
Sher had estimaters and advisors over for the floor, kitchen, and SBA loan (which means a total damage estimate). This did not sound like fun.

Pam took the day off work to help and she and I ended up running errands about half the day and packing the remaining crap out of the main floor. If they are going to have to cut the bottom 2 feet or so of the drywall, then everything needs to be packed, or secured and plastic covered. This is boring work.

We did see some amusing things on errands. Here's the first one:
















How does one get on the "grilling team"? Is it the varsity or jv grilling team?
Do you have to wear a jock strap and/or sports bra?
How much do they train?
Are there burger-flippin' training camps?

This is what the grilling team was in town for:
















50CENTS! That is for a pork burger. Apparently pork burger is the new hamburger in the midwest. I did not know this. Fred went by but the line was too long.
Pam and I had gotten sandwich makin's for lunch anyway.

Here's how Fred spent the day...power washing ducts.















Rob got to transport ducts up the basement steps. Rob should not do that in sandals.
Fred's aim with the power sprayer must be getting better since he's down graded from chest waders to hip waders. By next week he'll be in irrigation boots.

For supper, Joe and Cathy Avery invited us all over to the steak feed at their church. It was DELICIOUS and I do not usually eat big slabs of red meat. There were a few of my old teachers in attendence. I did not go chat with them.
One of the best parts about a meal out is that Sher had to stop working at a reasonable hour.


Now we must all rest so that we can get over to the house early tomorrow to meet Brian and Shelly! Yeay!

This all truly makes me want to sort my crap NOW rather than during a disaster. I've been eliminating things, donating unused items, and getting rid of an item each time I get a new thing and bring it into the house. But it's time to speed up the process. The damage to the house is bad enough, but having to cart the stuff around (and it is LOVELY stuff...antiques and whatnot) is not fun. Then you have to find a good place, or places, to store it during repairs. THEN they will have to unpack it all and re-store it in the house (though rumor has it there won't be much in the basement).

Thanks for all the supportive missives. I tell Sher about them and she's very appreciative. They are still overwhelmed by how much people are helping. I've only got a couple of days left so I need to kick it into high gear here tomorrow and Sunday. It's back on the road to Idaho on Monday.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Back by Popular Demand



OK, I can't believe how many people are reading this blog now. Like 7 of you.


Hi Sara, Sam, Gary, Diane, Chris, Dane, Hilch, Nancy and the rest.

Here's the progress report for the day:


They got the sand piles and sandbags out of the neighborhood today.















The park is looking more like a park. Still plenty of sand on the ground but now it is an inch or two deep, not a foot. Without the piles the stank is starting to abate a bit. This is good as it is getting hot and muggy and the stink was increasing especially when the wind was off the sandpiles.


Here is Sher's new washer!! They brought it as 9am. It is not sideways in real life. It's just late and I don't know how to turn the photo the right way up and I don't want to learn today.
















The dryer and those drawers that raise them up to a reasonable height are coming soon. The old washer and dryer went away on the truck that brought the new one. That opened up alot of space.

A guy from a cleaning company came by to advise about the clean up.
He stuck his moisture tester in the walls and floors. They are wet. Pretty wet. The oak floors are 10-20% wetter than they should be and with just household dehumidifiers, he does not think they are going to get better. Fred and Sher knew that. They will get an estimate from him on a commercial desicator (desicater?...it's like a dehydrator for your house) to get everything dry...floors, walls, everything. It costs. But not as much as remediating mold in a year or two.

Since the tile is still on the bathroom walls, those were the wettest. The tile needs to come off at least 2 feet up all around. Sher got some started and then got stuck. The shower bottom needs to come off too.















Sher didn't like that because she wanted them to use that shower. I don't think they will want to use it if that poowater eats the subfloor out and they fall to the basement.


On the plus side...the estimate for a new hardwood floor was lower than expected...though higher than is doable (the estimate was on the same floor they have 3/4" oak, tongue and groove, same company as the one in there). Sher wanted to know what the floor they are trying to save is worth so they can know how much time/effort/money to spend trying to save it. If they replaced, it would have to be lower quality. But that is a high quality floor so there is plenty of room in "lower quality" that is still a very nice floor.
The kitchen will probably be a cork floor! That will be cool. Aunt Chris is looking into that for Sher.

I started clearing out the three-season porch so Fred and Sher will have a decent living area for the duration of demolition and construction. It stays reasonably cool (the AC is dead). Hopefully we can get that set up tomorrow so the weekend crew will have a nice lunch spot without the gnats that are invading the driveway dining area.

Fred continued to pull the ductwork. It has much mold in it so I'm sure they will be glad that is being cleaned and bleached. Hope to get that done tomorrow and on the weekend. The basement is pretty dry now and will probably end up being a work area just because it's so much cooler than the rest of the house. Though during the commercial dessication process, no one will want to be anywhere in the house. It could get up to 110 degrees in there (fahrenheit).

Thanks to Sara for the airconditioner she's bringing this weekend!! Sher is excited.

And to Sam for the Pizza Ranch food! That will be very cool. They just don't have time to cook major meals but working like that, they need to eat a major meal once a day. They have chips and soda and cookies coming out their ears and so far maindish and dessert donations are coming in apace.

On Friday we're all invited to the steak fry in Shell Rock, Iowa. Pam is real excited. Nothing like big slabs of red meat and the potential to run into the occassional ex-boyfriend to make for a festive event. Should be amusing for me. I've had all my ex-boyfriends "disposed of" so I don't have these issues.

OK, the last two photos are just for fun. For all my college friends who don't believe that there is a family named "Butzlaff" in Waverly...
















SEE! And it is pronounced "butt's laugh".



And this you can't see so well, but it cracked me up.
















This is a shoe repair shop in a converted garage in Sher's neighborhood.
The box to the left of the door says "Shoe Drop Box". It's like the FedEx of shoe repair.
You drop them in the box and magically they are fixed. I should drop my boots in there because they need new shoe-goo. They had arsenic, mercury and cadmium soaked in before I got here and now we've added bleach, sporicide, poowater, and god knows what. I was running around in sandals until I noticed that someone (not Sher) does not pick up the nails someone pulls out of the basement ceiling. Instead, someone strews them about the house and garage floor. Oh well. I suppose someone's attention is elsewhere.

Food report: we had left over venison stew with mashed potatoes and 3 kinds of fruit salad and 3 kinds of cake for lunch. For supper, left over spaghetti, garlic bread, salad, fruit, and 2 kinds of cake. I ate 4 pieces of cake, full meals, and a half a bag of chips today with a chaser of about 4 sodas...and still when I got on the wii-fit that Pam and Rob got (that is the BEST video game ever) I had lost weight. It was probably just all the sweat but still funny. I'm posting the "Flood Diet"...lots and lots and lots of food. And still you lose weight.

Is that it today? Must be. I didn't get to Sher's until 9:30 this morning so she had probably worked for about 3 hours before I arrived. That woman is a machine.
OH! We also re-scrubbed the kitchen floor, basement steps, and some woodwork. There really is no end to the poowater. It is now an integral part of the house. They need to remove the solid wood built-in cupboards from the laundry room...OR remove the siding on the outside wall there (which is in the garage). Those cupboards are so well built and solid wood that the cleaning guy thought the siding might actually be the way to go.

All this does make me glad I live in places I don't really care about. I love my trailer. But if it blew up, I really wouldn't care. If my apartment was ruined, again, wouldn't really care. Fred and Sher's house is so nice and they planned on living in it to the end so this is pretty hard for them. It's also making me rethink several things about the home I hope to one day build...for starters...UPHILL is getting more important than easy access to water. Also, being able to do repair work myself and maybe avoiding builtin cabinets and features. Dyed cement floors also seem like a super idea, though tough on the legs.

Anyway, time to watch my new favorite show, Mobile Home Disaster. (sorry about the ad at the beginning...I couldn't find any clips without ads)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Race Is On...

We'll get to the race bit in a minute. I have trouble re-ordering the photos so you've got to see them in the order I put them on here.

Just another clean up photo from the park. I like how they are burying the tree in sand.

















Now for the race bit. Fred's friend Kenny (yes, a grown man named "Kenny" and yes, he will remind you of the character on SouthPark. Decided to mow the lawn for Sher and Fred. Kenny did not want to use Fred's mower. He went home and brought his own mower back on a trailer. When Fred noticed Kenny mowing, Fred got his mower out.
















It was like some sort of dueling-curmudgeons. Fred lapped Kenny a few times because Kenny wanted to do a really good job. Fred like to go fast.

















Meanwhile back at the ranch...Sher and I were calling contractors (like you can even get one!), talking to the ductwork cleaner (who told us that cleaning those ducts would take more than a steam and a suck...they need to be removed, powerwashed inside and put back), floor people, cabinet people, and on and on. We also set up a little kitchenette on the dining room mantle.
















And brought in a folding table and chairs. This weekend we hope to clean off their lovely 3 season porch and set up a dining table and some sit-able chairs. While they may be able to sleep in the camper, that room will be more comfortable. It's quite nice in the evening.

We ended up working through supper time which has not been the habit. But, Dave Weston, a friend of Sher and Fred's, came buy and when he heard the duct work needed to come out, he just started doing it. It's laying on the floor now in the same pattern as when it was on the ceiling. Pam and I took boxes to Pam's boss' house for long term storage (delicate things that need not be in construction zones).

And for those who have been following the food log:
We had left over venison stew over baked potatoes made in the new kitchenette (microwave works), with salad, strawberry dessert, 2 kinds of cake, strawberries, and whatever bev erage you want. Lunch was roast beef sandwiches, scalloped potatoes and ham, fruit, and beverages.
They still have several more days of food before anyone needs to cook. And there are fresh fish in the fridge. I was hoping that by cooking too many potatoes, we'd get fried potatoes with our fish.

Just before I left it rained and a rainbow came out. A bit cheesy to put here after a flood (tad on the "Noah" side), but here's a photo:















As a final note...if any of the relatives in the area have, but ARE NOT USING, a window airconditioner that would fit a 22inch window...the 'rents could use it. They need to control the temperature on the second floor of the house where much furniture and many pictures are stored. It's getting hot and muggy up there. It's not an enormous space and probably one airconditioner and a dehumidifier (which they will have available as soon as the basement is dry) will do it. If no one has one lying about, Pam and I will just go buy one and stick it in the window.

OK, I am missing the cocktail party in Pam's living room so you'll hear about the floor, the new HOT WATER!!! (now with extra bleach) and other improvements later...or not at all (here's the short version: there is hotwater now, but it's full of bleach. The bedroom floors look pretty good and the dining and living room are getting better. If they can get the commercial size dehumidifier rented for a few days they can get the subfloor and walls dried out and know where they stand. If Brian can call or come and advise them, that will help even more. Relatives rock).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

These Are The Days of Our Floods...



That title is because Laurie said this is the best soap opera she's been addicted to.

Today was kitchen demolition and dishwashing day. Sad, but Sher's cherrywood kitchen cabinets...those that touch the ground...had to come out. Fred was going through the house with a sawsall ready to start tearing things out. Sher wants to save the doors and fronts and has talked to the woodmode (brand name) cabinet guy in Pennsylvania about doing that. Fortunately, my cousin Joni showed up before any cabinets were needlessly killed.

Joni has a furniture refinishing business (along with the Pronto she and her husband Mike run and I'm sure there is more).
Here are Fred, Joni, and Bill (Fred's friend) working in the kitchen.















Apparently, in taking this photo, I scared the B-jebus out of Bill. He was holding exposed electrical wires and was pretty sure he had turned off the breaker, but not totally sure. Because of all the fans, they didn't hear me come in and when the camera flashed, Bill jumped and almost poo'd his pants. Joni got a HUGE kick out of this.


If you look carefully here, you can see my cousin Molly (Joni's daughter) and Deb, a person we've never met, washing dishes.















The graniteware got washed the other day. These were Sher's good dishes and tea pots that rode out the flood in a basement cupboard. The cupboard did not collapse, but was filled to the top with poowater. This dried inside the dishes and things. Fred claims that Stan power washed some things with his industrial washer before Sher got home and killed some. Fred's stories have not been entirely reliable and since Stan is the favorite and has a powerwasher, I'm sure if he did break some crap, it's OK with Sher.
Deb is from Elkader (same as Joni and Molly and the other woman you'll meet next) and is on vacation so just came down to help. How cool is that?


This is Sher (in the dark shirt) and Diane Finley (in the red). Diane and Sher have been friends since Sher was about 8 years old. Diane came over from Elkader for the day to help out with clean up.















She brought her friend Deb (see above) along. They did dishes all day, helped tear Sher's favorite recipes out of cookbooks that got poowatered, and generally cheered everyone up. Diane has a foul mouth. I like her.
Diane and Deb also showed up with a full meal. Spaghetti, salad (heavy on the mayo please...that 7 layer salad with bacon bits, mayonaise, peas, and three more things), a jello thing with coolwhip and a cookie/butter crust, AND yellow cake with cherry pie filling in it. Oh, also muffins. People in Elkader had heard she was coming to help Sher and sent food. Someone also sent Christmas decorations because they heard Sher lost hers in the flood (Sher lost a few...but Pam pulled more than a dozen boxes of decorations out of the basement so I think we're set with this new contribution).

Here's the final state of the kitchen (well, the current state).















They did leave the sink and fridge in. But counter space is now officially zero square feet. Before this it was well over 20square feet (seriously).

OH! While we were doing all of this, some guy named Rick showed up in a van and went into the basement. No one said anything and he looked official. Sher said he was a plumber. A few hours later he came out and said, "The water heater is plumbed in. As soon as the electrician puts the timer on and hooks it back up, you have hotwater." Sher said, "What hot water heater?"
Fred had gone to the city yesterday to get a new one and come back to the house empty handed and pissed. (I guess the city power company sells high quality electric water heaters and you get a discount with your redcross water heater money). The OLD water heater had for some mysterious reason been hauled BACK into the basement. I do not know why since they thought it was dead. It had been taken up to the main floor, but then tipped over when the flood got on that floor the waterheater tipped over and was declared dead. If they are wrong, then they have hot water as soon as an electrician can come.
Rick, the plumber added this one parting shot, "Oh, I put a gallon of bleach in there. Shouldn't hurt you." Yeah...unless you have a cut. Thank god no one has needed to rinse out an eye they got bleach in...

And for the final flood treat. Here is the photo Pam wouldn't let me put up yesterday.
















You can see the whole dishwashing set up, the front of the house, and the camper as well as the al fresco dining area. Also, note Pam's fashionable headwear. A turban is ALWAYS appropriate. Just ask anyone on Joan Collins.

For supper, the Averys came over with venison stew, fruit salad and fresh bread. It was spectacular!! We had three kinds of cake left for dessert. We are NOT starving.


Also, Pam and Rob bought wii fit today. We look hilarious doing that. Especially Sher. We have not had Fred try it but one can hope.

Tomorrow is more paperwork and maybe shopping for a washing machine. Woohoo...

Monday, June 23, 2008

FEMA Fun 'n' Fotos

Another flood update for friends and family.

(WARNING>>>I'm fighting with the blog site today. It won't space things right, and the font is funny and there are big blank spots that won't go away. Try to ignore these. I tried but they keep reappearing even after I go through and change it all)

Today it was mostly going to various places to apply for assistance.

FEMA/SBA (small business administration) for a loan application. This is to help with reconstruction or whatnot. They said you do this along with your FEMA application so Sher did.

The SBA lady taking and checking Sher's application got to the part where Sher listed her social security income and looked up and said, "I'm sorry but how old are you?" Sher does not look old enough to be getting that. Another woman asked Sher the same thing.

Fred went fishing for a bit which was good. They need to take some breaks. You can't stare at your damaged house all day, your crap all over the yard, and face what needs to be done all the time. This also means helpers tomorrow get fresh fish so come on over!

Sher and I also went to the Red Cross and got some $$ to help with a new hot water heater. We'll need to talk to the city or someone later. She could have gotten an estimate and gone back and MAYBE gotten 25$ mroe than she got today...but seriously. Her time is worth more and the Red Cross center is closing tomorrow so it would be a big pain to try to get the money later.


Now for today's photos:

Here's the river looking all pretty and peaceful and back in its banks.
























You can see why everyone wants to live there.





Here is one of the great tragedies of the flood of '08...































The garden is a goner. I thought there was one tomato plant left but it was just a weed in a tomato cage (isn't there a song about that?) (there should be).




Sher by a sand pile for scale:




























Keep in mind that Sher is 5'2" tops. This sand is scooped up from the park. No. It is NOT from the sandbag levees. It was dumped by the flood on the park/streets/lawns/basements. There are dozens of these piles around town. The street sewers are full of sand. The rumor is that the city is taking this to use on the roads in winter.

Here is the park...NOT a street. That is the grassy area.






























It's just covered with sand and looks like a street. They have little front end loaders and guys with shovels trying to scoop up the sand and get the park back in shape.

Here's a depressing photo from somewhere around town.























All over people have piles of their homes' walls, floors, kitchens, baths and personal items piled by the street for pick up. Fred and Sher had a friend come with a truck and haul it all away as it was pulled from the house 10days ago or so. They didn't have to walk out each morning (out of their camper) to face a pile of their ruined stuff. I think this can't be good for the general mental health of the community. So far only one neighbor hauled off to the ...uh...psych ward. Sad. But he's back and his family and friends and neighbors carried on.



Tomorrow is the last day for the Red Cross meals. We found out they were coming from a group of Southern Baptist men. They have mobile kitchen trucks and just go from one emergency situation to another doing this. They are good. Tonight was spaghetti for supper. We added some salad (to keep things movin') and cake. Pam brought a bowl of strawberries! Quite nice.

Tomorrow we're expecting another dishwashing crew and some help with the kitchen as well as an evening meal delivery. The meals really help (as do all the people) because it is quite hard to cook anything without a decent stove or hot water. If they pull the kitchen counters out, it will be even tougher. But, it might also be good here in a week or two if Sher took a break to come cook at Pam's or Fred took one to barbecue each day. Breaks are good.

For those who care...my hair is still doing well without shampoo though it was a bit of a pain to wash it in the hotel shower with just the little plastic hotel cups. I need to brush it tonight.

Sher is out of the shower so I think it's time for some booze.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Phlood Fotos


Time for a few flood photos.
But first a bit of a summary. Today we spent much time eating and washing things. The boys ran the power washer. The girls ran the wash/wash/bleach/rinse/dry/stack/sort/pack area. The girls' area was frankly more butch than the boys' area because we had fire. We heated water on Fred's propane cooker. I had to pressure Sher a bit to get her to let us use one of her giant antique enamelware coffee boilers. But seriously, it was the best thing ever for heating water over an open flame (what with it having been designed for that.
Today Hiltje and the girls came up from Waterloo and helped clean the floors again (these will be the cleanest floors ever ripped up). Once Pam and I got our lazy butts over there, we got the washing started...then had lunch. Sher's friends Bill and Sandy Bright brought some roast beef for sandwiches and plenty of fixin's. Someone had been there in the morning and dropped off "apple bars" (this is really a cookie sheet sized apple pie). The Brights brought chocolate cake. Not knowing anyone was bringing food, Pam and I stopped at the store and got salad stuff...and cake. We are stuffed with cake.

A bit later Cathy and Joe Avery came by. Joe sprayed the basement walls, floor, ceiling with bleach 2 more times. That f'er is clean. Cathy joined the ladies on the wash line. When Hiltje and the girls went home for some kid event, Pam's boyfriend Rob took over on the drying table.
I was on water heating and transport.

A few more people stopped by to check and see what was needed but Sher couldn't direct anymore staff.

Anywho, here are the photos:

This is the kitchen in its current state.












Sher's cherrywood cabinets are doing OK. The linoleum has been torn up to allow the subfloor to dry. The oak floor is in the rest of the house except bathrooms. It may have to come up. pretty warped. They still have hope it will flatten a bit and could be sanded...but....
The fridge is running but it looks like the washer is dying quickly. Doesn't seem to like grit in the spinny bits.
Don't know about the dryer, freezer, stove (thought that looks hopeful since they have lots of spare parts for it), hot water heater, boiler-furnace, airconditioner, water softener, and on and on.


This is the lovely 3 season porch featuring cousin Sara Jane.












This area is about 6inches lower than most of the main floor and took on more water. BUT, it has a cement floor so that was fine. The walls are a bit warped but doors and windows work so can probably live with the warpage out here. It usually features tons of plants, a lovely view of the river, and nice little seating areas. Right now, it features dead and dying appliances and the cleaning supply station.


Here is the washing station. Pam made me use this photo because she isn't in it.
We hate her.












There are the girls, Aja and Marissa. You can see Fred in his waders bringing things that have been powerwashed and are ready for the wash/wash/bleach/..etc process.
You can also see their camper, the lunch area with umbrella, and the front of their house. It is a nice house when not flooded.

Here's the back yard and the river. The railroad bridge beyond the trees is the one visible in the aerial photos.












Usually the backyard has a nice garden and is kept like a golf course. But, now things are drying and begin power washed and whatnot back there. All the yards in town look like someone is having a really crap yardsale.


These are the sandbags from Sher and Fred's temporary levee
Quite a pile.














I'll have to get a photo of the piles and piles of sand that was deposited by the river. The street in this photo is actually about 2-3 inches deep in sand that dropped out of the water. The park beyond the sandbags was covered several inches deep. The city is going to keep the sand to use on the roads in the winter.

We're hoping the towns decide to get rid of their little dams. They don't generate enough power to pay for themselves and they DO slow down the rivers, causing sedimentation and making the rivers shallow. This makes flooding worse (also makes fishing worse!).

Fred pointed out that fishing is killer right now. The river hasn't been this clean in ages. It's crystal clear now. Walleye are ready for the picking.

As for last night's wii curling tournament...we all sucked. Tonight we did wii fit. It tests your fitness age. The first night I was 66. Today I am 41. I'm hoping to be in my 30s by the time I leave.

Thanks for all your comments and thoughts!


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Of Poo and Men

Well, spent pretty much the whole work day washing poo water off things (can I just call it "poowater"?)
I took photos to post on the blog, but I forgot my camera at Sher's house. Oh well.

We had GOOD food for lunch and I must say that really helps the attitude. My sister went to something called the "Pizza Ranch" and got chicken and sides. You wouldn't expect good chicken from the Pizza Ranch, and yet it was. Also, we were hungry so that helps.

Many people were here to help. 2 cousins from the Cedar Rapids area (their house was fine). They told Sherry they were going to help someone today and it might as well be a relative. My brother came with his industrial strength power washer. He says it will cut the steel of a steel-toed boot right in half. I believe him. He takes it in the basement and power washes all the walls, ceiling and floor. This is the second trip with that washer. They have an industrial fan from him blowing air into the basement to help dry it. A cousin from Elkader came with some bigwig from work (Caterpillar just bought out the local business. It's not entirely clear who is the boss...my cousin or this Tony guy he brought). Tony used the household power washer (it will not even cut a tennis shoe in half) for about 4 hours straight to wash everything possible...heater co vers, vent covers, grills and parts off appliances. There is poowater everywhere on sooooo many things eventhough pretty much everything was out of the house.
Of course my sister, me, Fred and Sher were there too. We washed things inside, directed labor, and on and on. Pam's beau is being the group's wife (running errands, getting snacks, and making a nice place for us all to shower and have a rest in the evenings).

After supper Sher and I went to my old high school. FEMA and everyone else has a table set up so you can sign up for benefits and get advice on clean up. Sher got a food-card with 200+$ on it. This will help! They are getting Red Cross meals, but you need water, snacks, and other food for the workers.

The Red Cross truck comes around at least twice a day and hands out lunches or suppers depending on the time. They have water, sunscreen, snackpacks, and other things. This is helpful because people don't have to take time to cook or do dishes. And it is hard to keep a sanitary area in the flood zone so hard to cook. Fred and Sher's camper is lovely, but the electric isn't quite working and the kitchen is tiny. Good for breakfast, but cooking for a big crew would be too time consuming. So we get the Red Cross meals. The truck blows its horn and a guy shouts through a loud speaker: Hot Meals Hot Meals. We all come running like it's the icecream truck. People chat while waiting. He just asks how many meals you need and if you need water. If there are extras to hand out that day, he hands those out. They are putting together hundreds of meals each day at a church somewhere in town. God Bless 'em! They aren't fancy but they are fine. Hamburgers or chicken sandwiches. Sometimes spaghetti or something. The timing varies but seriously. I'm impressed they can do ANYTHING in the smaller towns as swamped as they must be in the bigger towns.

A FEMA contractor has already been to the house to assess damage. The plumber and electrician have been by to approve getting the water and electric turned on (a flush toilet REALLY makes a difference in one's life...before the water came on they had to run to the gas station a few times a day and the guys peed in the bushes). The power in the basement is still off...what with the power washing.

Anyway, I've showered. Sher is showering now. Then we are having a Wii curling tourny!
Wii is a video game that is simple and fun. Curling is that canadian ice bowling thing. Google it. I'm too tired to make a nice hyperlink for you.

Thanks for the calls and e-mails. I told Sher that you all were concerned. She says Thanks. If you were here she'd make you some jell-o.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Posting from Iowa


I TOTALLY tried to post yesterday from the road but it didn't work out. You'll see why as you read below.
I drove yesterday as far as LuVerne, Minnesota with plans to stay in my beloved Cozy Rest Motel. I'd stayed there in the past and it is hilarious. The room I had was aqua...the walls AND the ceiling. The towels said Double Tree on them.
Well, the Cozy Rest was full. So was the Sunrise.
I could NOT face the Super 8 there which is connected to a bar/steakhouse and hosts things like wet t-shirt volley ball contests and shares a parking lot with Pamida.
The night before I had wisely googled LuVerne and programmed the numbers of local hotels in my phone. I called the last hotel. The Hillcrest and she had a room. Yeah! I drove on up. It's about 2 miles off the interstate but that's fine. It's just sort of in a neighborhood. One of those old single story motels where you park right in front of the room.
Seriously. It is FABULOUS in a surreal way. And it fulfills all my frugal and simple criteria.
I go to the office to check in and a woman comes through the door that leads to her private quarters. It's a thinner version of my Gramma Wagner...the infamous Beulah.
There is a sheet of paper taped to the counter that says, "no cooking in the rooms. No frying pans, no hotpots, no crockpots, no waffle irons, no electric woks, no popcorn poppers...." It goes on for a full page.


The first words out of Beulah's mouth after "are you the one who just called?" are "Do you have any pets?"
(check the webpage..."No Pets" is the first thing. Though if you go to the "policies" page you see you CAN have small pets with a fee at the discretion of management).
You can also see pictures of each room on the webpage. I was in 117, though the photos are a bit out of date.
Here are a couple of my room photos. It was GREAT! Clean yet tatty. Servicable, yet just a tiny bit off.














Check out the wear on the arm of that chair and the cool plastic flowers.
And here's the desk chair. I felt like a Jetson!


LOVE the plastic flowers and that lamp...I wanted that lamp.
They fixed the shower floor with duct tape that almost matches the color of the shower stall (which was free standing...not attached to the wall or anything fancy like that).
You can't see it here, but those towels are worn. Though spotlessly clean. Smelled of bleach. They probably started out a dark navy.
This is NOT a cross stitch. It is a FAKE cross stitch made out of some sort of resin affair.
I have never seen anything so beautiful.
The hotel advertises wireless internet. I had my laptop so I busted it out to blog. There is indeed wireless internet, BUT it needed a password which I did not have. I was afraid to go back in the office to ask the mean lady (she asked me if all the other hotels were full before she would rent me a room!). AND by the time I got my nerve up it was after 10pm. If you read the policies page you will notice, or if you are there and read the postings, that from 10pm to 7am is QUIET HOURS and you are to turn your TV down and be respectful of other guests. So, I lost my nerve again and just watched the TV (very quietly).
I must say, it is CLEAN and for $34.88 it is a hell of a deal. I did make guacamole in my room. I hope that doesn't count as cooking because I totally want to stay there again.

You see I did not have time to go to the VALANCE STORE!!! that is part of the hotel. Seriously. They sell valances as well as hotel rooms. Clearly they had custom made valances in the room. One in the bathroom (which is full width of the room across the back with a big window in which is jammed an airconditioning unit....which makes the floor chilly. This combined with the lack of an exhaust fan results in quite a bit of condensation during your shower).
Other cool features that I don't have time to load the photos of tonight:
A fake beam ceiling with accoustic tiles jammed in between the fake beams.
A round thing that makes you think it is the thermostat, but is really just a thermometer.
This line from the webpage describing important features of the room: About 1 mile or closer from local restaurants
And this other line from the features webpage: Winter Plugin's
And this other other line from the features webpage: Cold soda's
(why can't anyone drive an apostrophe these days?)
Honestly, I want to stay here again in one of the other rooms. My fellow residents were nice. One diagnosing the horrifying noise my car was making as "probably a U-joint or a heat shield." I said, "CV joint?" He says, "Yeah." (A U-joint would be in the back center. The noise is clearly in the front driver's side wheel assembly area which would be a CV-joint or steering issue or something like that). Then we opened the hood to look for a heat shield and there isn't one. But you know, he meant well. And it was probably BAD BAD flirting on my part to correct him but if even I know it can't be that part of a car, then this is not a major mechanical genius I'm talking to.
Anyway, just a tiny bit of flood update before I hit the inflat-a-bed.
I'm in Waverly. There has clearly been TONS of cleanup already. Fred and Sher's house still needs lots of cleaning. Amazing amounts of cleaning. I washed walls and baseboards and outlets (yes, outlets...they were not live), and stuff today. Sher will have more jobs for us tomorrow. More cousins and friends coming tomorrow to help.
The drive was fine except for the horrifying grinding noise in the front wheel area. I have a car appointment on Wednesday to get it taken care of.
I'll be here about 10days and may post more Hillcrest photos if I have time.
I'll try to take some flood photos if I can. The caved in foundations are the most impressive right now. Big holes next to houses leading into basements! Fred and Sher's foundation is fine and the basement walls and floors will get yet another power wash from my brother's industrial strength power washer tomorrow. So the smell is clearly not as bad as it was at first.
Good night dear readers.