Last Tuesday I was riding the elevator up to our apartment on the 7th floor after work when I received this text from Patrick:
[Our friend] just sent me an email. Apparently there’s flooding on our floor. Pipe burst. I’m not home to see though.
The message didn’t really faze me. I figured it would be on the other side of the building or, if anything, it would be just a small nuisance that could be wiped up with a rag or blotted out with a few towels.
I didn’t have much more time to think because 10 seconds later the doors to the elevator opened up, and I was immediately hit with a rush of humidity and the odor of “wet dog.” The other thing I noticed was that the floor outside the elevator was completely drenched on the right side and completely dry on the left. Guess which side our apartment is on?
I stepped onto the wet carpet and there was an audible “squish” beneath my feet (luckily I was wearing boots). From the elevators, there are two corners you have to turn to get to our unit. After rounding the second corner, I was greeted with this sight (photo taken about an hour later):
That would be our door to the left of the gaping hole in the wall. Not only that, but the door to our apartment was ajar. I peered in and saw sheet rock littering our entranceway. There were still puddles of standing water on the floor. Our area rugs (a recent gift from my parents) were completely saturated. The bathroom light was on and I saw our shower handle had been removed.
I carefully navigated my way back out of the apartment and down to the front desk of our building where the security guard was sitting. Before I could say anything, he calmly asked, “What floor do you live on?”
Long story short, he directed me to a room where the (rather frazzled) management team were meeting. They explained that the pipe connected to our building’s overhead sprinkler system had froze due to the lack of heat circulating in the hallway on our floor. At about 3pm that day, the pipe burst and water started gushing through the wall. Because it was tied to the sprinkler system, the fire alarms started screeching in response, alerting them to the problem. Our neighbor who was home at the time of the incident took this photo:
The building’s custodian then explained that he removed our shower handle thinking it might be connected to the same pipe that was causing the leak (which he later discovered was unrelated).
The water seeped into our apartment and basically covered it end-to-end. This is what the farthest corner looked like about 3 hours after the flooding occurred:
In some ways, Patrick and I were “lucky” that the pipe burst on our floor because it meant only the things touching the ground got damaged. Once it spread, it basically started raining down on the units below us, affecting people all the way on the 3rd floor, drenching their beds, couches, and electronics.
All I can say is that I’ve never been so thankful to have renter’s insurance! We’ll be staying in a hotel for at least the next 3-5 days while a “restoration team” (hired by the building) dries and cleans everything up. On the first night, they brought in dehumidifiers and by the next day, I came home to another fun surprise in the hallway:
They had torn up the carpet, removed the bottom trim, drilled holes into the walls, and set up a slew of fans. Once I entered the apartment, things got a little more interesting:
All of our possessions had been pushed to the middle of the floor and covered in tarps. A total of fourteen fans were set up. And like the hallway, trim was removed along the walls and holes had been drilled around the entire perimeter.
They don’t mess around, that restoration team.
I’m a little sad that my kitchen will be out of commission this week (and that my groceries will be going to waste!) but we’re trying to look upon this as an adventure.
Also, I have to say that the response from people offering to help us out after hearing about the incident was amazing. Thank you to everyone for your support and concern!
It will be interesting to see what will happen once the floors are dry and the true extent of the damage can be assessed. But for right now we are taking it one day at a time.
Before I end this, how about a moment of silence for some of the casualties sustained in our unit? Among them were:
- My “The Casual Vacancy” library book (which is costing $45 to replace!)
- The latest issue of “Health” magazine
- My Macbook Pro power adapter
- My new boots
- Our area rugs (may be salvageable)
- Patrick’s iPhone 5 charger