I was feeling guilty about not really having anything happen to me, and it didn't matter that we'd just had a meeting where dozens and dozens of people had just signed up to have John tell them what to do. He was coordinating jobs, people, and resources. He's good about not letting it spill over too much, but being married to him means that I do get the inevitable phone call here or there, when someone can't reach him. And I've been kind of drowning in all the data.
It didn't help that Jet, yesterday, said, "I'm bored. I want to go help at church." The church's been doing childcare, and he went to help them out yesterday. On the way home with John, Jet decided he wanted to do something more active today. So I resolved, this morning, to go with the boys to the house of a member of our congregation and help with the pumping, ripping, mudding, or hauling that needed to be done to help clear their basement so that it could dry out.
But I knew that I needed to do more than just the demolition work, so John loaded my bike and helmet into the van along with the shovels, wheelbarrow, and tarps. I brought along my bike clothing, too, knowing that I didn't want to ride in work boots and jeans. We left at 7:45 to arrive at 8, and that's probably the earliest I've risen since the rains started coming down.
We went back to the neighborhood across from the water we'd had to stop at on Friday. Airport was dry and clear, but they'd closed it at 9th, because the whole length from there to Mountain View had been completely underwater and all the neighborhoods there were pumping, digging, and hauling their ways out of the muck that the river had brought.
As you can tell from the sticky post at the top of my journal, John and I have been going down to Biloxi, MS for years to rebuild people's houses from the flooding damage that was done by Katrina. There, they were hit by both the rise in the water levels of the Back Bay and the Gult, with a 20 foot rise in water levels, which was unprecedented there.
All the damage we'd seen in Mississippi was from flooding, and by the time we'd gotten there, after the first crew that first year, most of the debris had already been cleared out, and the houses gutted of anything that would rot. All I had ever done down there was the rebuilding after the demolition that had to be done to keep the house from molding. We were pretty intimate with exactly what was needed to be able to get a running start at making a house habitable again, and most of it is mucky, dirty work.
And the smell...
That was what really hit me at a visceral level. Jeff had talked about it on Sunday, when he and John were scoping out what needed to be done, even in the rain, with a house that had been flooded. He said, "It smells just like the houses in Biloxi." And it did, that smell of river water that has taken over more than it should. It's so strange applying those memories and skills and thoughts here rather than a thousand miles away in the Bayous of the Gulf.
I'd gotten a shot of the St. Vrain just before we were let in, and the river's still cutting a new bed, and the levels are still crazy high for us. It's staying more within its banks, though, which is a relief. But it's interesting to see that the high flow has actually cut new river bed for it, and that's affecting other communities even more than us. Longmont cut a few canals that are diverting the water from the neighborhoods and back into its bed, too. That was some neat engineering, and I'm not sure I wanted to be the guy doing the digging... wow.
We really wanted a dumpster before having to take the soaked sheetrock out of the basement, and there was plenty to do before we started taking all of that out.
The Vac filled quickly at first, and I did a lot of the emptying, first into a 5 gallon bucket, so that he could get started again, and then I'd empty the bucket into the drain. We also started talking out the doors, pulled off the trim, and pulled all the faces off all the electrical sockets and switches. We emptied the basement of soaked books, Cd's, tapes, and other things that had been underwater on the shelves built into the basement. They'd all have to come out to make it easier to take the soggy sheet rock down. It was a lot of work just getting the water out of there, and we eventually realized that the water was still seeping in from under the walls.
That's when we decided to stop vacuuming and just do what we could with everything else. Everything that was left in the basement and on the walls was taken down and taken out and sorted into trash or not. I had fun with a small pry bar and took off all kinds of trim that Jet took away to dry in the sunshine. By then it was already 11 and with all the sun and water and humidity was starting to get really warm. My glasses completely fogged over at one point, and that never happens in Colorado. *laughs* So I decided to go. The boys stayed and ripped out all the drywall and all of the rotted insulation behind it.
It was really cool seeing everyone out, walking, talking, helping each other out, and when I biked out the National Guard had moved their check point to the entrance of the neighborhood. They weren't holding a post out on Airport anymore.
I got to see this... a small bridge completely taken out by the waters. This was on the far edge of the farm we'd seen underwater on Friday morning.
I was pretty impressed, given how long it had been underwater, and the force of the water flow we'd seen. Still the erosion done here is pretty obvious as well.
And the rest of today was sunny, hot, and while it was still humid, it didn't rain any more. That was such a blessing in quiet ways. John dropped Jet off at 4:30, after an orthodontist appointment that they'd missed, postponed, and then got to at the second time. Jet went and showered, and then John went off for a meeting while Jet and I went to have dinner at Noodles and Company, and he got to tell me about pulling sheet rock, shoveling it into wheelbarrows to take out to the dumpster, and then getting through the insulation.
They'd gutted the whole basement and took out a wall that the owner really wanted out. Gary had also put in a sump hole, so that they could drain the water from the ground under the basement. That would make it far more likely for them to end the seepage into the basement, and when the boys left, they were already pumping water out of it at a steady pace. Now they get to go through the insurance and FEMA hoops in order to figure out how to rebuild, but the gutting had to be done for it all to dry out enough to figure out what has to be done.
So I got some work in, and got some painting in, because I still have that show in a little less than two week's time. Busy. Yes. Now I halfway want to paint that muddy sidewalk, of all things... but all the footprints through it is what draws me. Not sure what it means, but then maybe if I knew, I wouldn't paint it. *grins* I do love Georgia O'Keefe.
Anyway... feeling a little better now, but still a little scattered. There's still so much to do, but doing any one thing means that there's one less that has to be done.