Sunday, September 8, 2013

Gross Out Update: The First Day

Clean-up Begins

The restoration crew showed up at 9am. We discussed the scope of their work, and the supervisor answered some questions we had about his experiences working with the City of Portland. It was reassuring- we took notes on what he said, read over the contract and let the crew get to work- after pointing out that we had purchased coffee for them.

We provided fresh coffee for the crew, purchased from a local coffee shop in a to-go carafe. We wanted to say thanks in advance for the work they were about to take on. We didn't want to do this work ourselves, and were happy that this crew was ready to tackle the situation in our basement. Thanks, guys! (Apparently they do not typically accept food and drinks, unless they are purchased for the crew specifically. They don't want to look like they came to hang out and eat all the food! Speaking from my own work experience, that sort of gesture can go a long way- even if the crew does not accept. It's always nice to know the property owner has good will towards the crew!)

Plastic sheet was going down, protective clothing was going on, and four guys were hustling around, getting down to business. They took a large vacuum into the basement, and started to suction out the remaining sewage.

Bye, Stuff!

After getting the bulk of the residue cleared, they started hauling up "sewage effective contents." As the tubs and shelving units starting come up the steps, we decided (1) empty the tub into a box, send the tub to be clean, and the box into the house, (2) that's basura (trash) send it to the front yard, or (3) that's clean, let's take it straight into the house. And so it went. Box after box.

Tubs, shelves and miscellaneous items from the to-be-washed pile were photographed. This pile eventually included all the shelving, any plastic totes that were contaminated, the washer, dryer, freezer, rower, a kettlebell, steamer,  bike pump, tool boxes, etc. Not sure that all of it will be saved- if the insulation from the freezer is effected, for example, it can't be saved.

Anything in the basura pile was listed and photographed. This pile included original trim we salvaged from removing a doorway, and two original doors. It was hard to let them go. It was frustrating, because I worked to save those things. I carefully removed them, and hauled them down the awkward stairs. It feels like grief. It was sad. We did have a chance to remove the hinges and door knobs. Even though we'll never need them, I think I'll just save them. Still makes me feel sad.

The one thing I did save from the basura pile were some paper items that are very important to me. They were large, and in a large art folder that was resting on the floor. I saved them by drying them on plastic sheeting, in the sun. I'm not sure what to do with them to assume that they are clean, but they are saved for now.

Something I'm learning from this experience is a new way to evaluate belongings. When I look at something, I ask myself "if it were covered in poop, would I save it?" It's an interesting exercise.

About 12:30, the crew took a lunch break. I donned shoe covers, and headed into the basement. Everything from the floor was out, so it looked a bit different, but nothing drastic. Still pretty much just my contaminated basement. About 2:30 they took a 15 minute break (so I took out a box a plums from the neighbor's tree, which I think they appreciated). I went back down to the basement. This time, everything was gone. So weird! And our basement is tiny. Seriously, how did all those boxes fit in there? Most of the sewage was cleaned up, but it still stunk.

By 4pm, all of our sewage effected things were either in the truck headed for the dump, or in the truck headed to the warehouse. The air scrubber was left running, and is still running. I've checked the smell by pulling back the plastic sheeting over the doorway. As of this morning, it smells musty- which is better than sewage!

Yes, our freezer is definitely contaminated.

So is the washer.

... but not as bad as the freezer! How did I not get electrocuted?!

We are without hot water- luckily the gym has showers, and I can do laundry in the machines at work). All the meat from the freezer fit into the regular freezer in the kitchen (but either a roast, or a whole chicken falls out when you open the door!)

Monday, the crew is due back at 9am. They should be disinfecting the floor and walls. A furnace technician will inspect the furnace, and a plumber will inspect the hot water heater. Also, they will repaint the basement floor. We're waiting to hear back from Risk Management (City of Portland) regarding our claim, additional information about our belongings that were taken to the warehouse (especially the rower and appliances). We've been told we should have a check by the end of the week, and should be getting things back in order by the end of the week. However, I fear it's going to take much more time than that. Fingers crossed!

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