Sunday, October 12, 2008


Last Tuesday I walked back into my house in Richardson, Texas and couldn’t find my cat, Ms. Sophie Baggins, at her usual perch. I went through the Family Room to the hallway that runs down the bedroom wing and was greeted with water - water, water, everywhere! The hot water in near sink in the middle guest bath was full bore on. The overflow wasn’t sufficient to handle the excess water which had poured out of the bathroom to the front bedroom down to the middle and then ultimately the master bedroom. I turned the water off.

As I walked down the Brazilian Cherry hallway installed only a few years earlier, water squished up through the boards. I figure that about an inch of water had been deposited through those areas and only became obvious when my footprint on the carpet was immediately filled with water. The presence of the water was also evident in the Family room and the prospects of dismantling the TV and attendant cabinetry made me depressed, all by itself. Where was the cat?

I telephoned good Friend and contractor John Healy who answered his cell in Boston whilst enjoying a New England leaves holiday. One down… Brother John came up with the idea to contact nephew by marriage Jeremy in Florida who is with SERVPRO, a company dedicated to mitigating water and fire and smoke damage. A quick telephone call to Jeremy who called SERVPRO of Richardson, set in motion a series of actions that found a team of SERVPRO professionals at my door within a couple of hours. They didn’t leave until after 3:00 the next morning…

They assessed the damage and started ripping out carpet and the luxurious, thick pad that had sucked up most of the water. Carpet and pad were summarily cut out of all the aforementioned areas and attention was directed to the wood flooring that seemed to be weathering the affects of the water. “We’ll know for sure in a couple of days, but you’ll probably lose the flooring too.” the SERVPRO Team Lead sympathetically intoned. At the end of three days a slight warping was evident so the floor will probably have to be replaced.

Five days later and it’s Sunday morning and the SERVPRO rep just left taking the remaining industrial blowers and dehumidifier relieving my home and the neighborhood of what was surely 110+ dbs of cacophonous, jet-like roaring noise that prevented sleep or any semblance of sanity. I have an idea about another grossly inhumane torture tactic that can be used at Guantanamo…

I had up to sixteen blowers in the house and with the general contractor, flooring and carpet company agents, State Farm adjusters and the ever present SERVPRO reps the house had been a beehive of activity for those five days.

The house is now dry and all that needs to be done is the carpet and flooring installation and the daunting task of putting together the TV and cabinet. I had several great neighbors who kept watch on the house to discourage those always at the ready to take advantage of this situation.

Wednesday AM before SERVPRO set up the blowers Sophie presented herself looking bedraggled and limping. She had sought refuge I know not where and had apparently been injured during what I now call the “water incident.” Unless someone stole into the house, turned on the water and then left without taking anything, there are only two other explanations for the incident.

I thought, well, perhaps I turned on the water for Sophie and forgot. You see, Sophie is a Maine Coon cat with an uncommon love of water. A full basin was always left for her refreshment and recreation. But, the hot water spigot was on and not done by these hands!

However, a brain trust now agrees that Sophie was the most likely culprit and in one of her affectionate water dances probably turned the lever precipitating (yes) the incident. My State Farm adjuster convincingly admitted to many such incidents…

For the five excruciatingly long, moisture mitigating days Sophie found sanctuary in my office and mostly lying behind the monitor of my computer or on her favorite Jacobean chair (she supported the Bonnie Prince in a previous life). She is no longer limping though was affected (as was I) by the antibacterial/antifungal agents that SERVPRO sprayed. She now has a whole new world to discover and assess and I wonder how she will like the new carpet (not really).

The great lesson here is the absolute reality and more firm understanding of the great loss and mental anguish experienced by the victims of the floods in Gainesville and Sherman, Texas in 2007 and those affected by the floods precipitated by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike most recently in Louisiana and Texas. Wind damage aside, the losses resulting from the flood waters was more the failure to immediately mitigate the moisture and water damage that soon spawned molds of all varieties that doomed many homes. Would that they had the services of SERVPRO…

I sure wish that I had video of my water incident that would allow some confidence in the speculation about the cause of overflow. Alas, Sophie’s water games will not continue in the basin in the guest bath. Thanks to a good Friend who suggests that the shower off the utility room might offer some potential water recreation for Sophie without any attendant risk.

Common sense, eh?


Ned Buxton

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