Friday, January 06, 2006

The River Rat Gazette Issue #4

This blog is a flood-free, mold-free, stress-free zone. Unlike our home. Yes, for at least another three days, we will be out of the house, which flooded in the Marin County floods on December 31, 2005, destroying much of the structure as well as many of our personal possessions. Mold has gotten into the heating system, so the entire pipe/vent system has had to be dismantled and mold amelioration done on the whole house. The house is quite cold and the foreman of the job has asked us not to return to the home. They have also had to remove additional drywall and sheetrock up to the ceiling of the storage unit in order to prevent further mold damage. It's getting a little old, being here in the hotel, but it's warm and safe. As I said to a friend, they're still taking the credit card, so it can't be too bad-- (When the bill comes, we will all change our names and escape over the border. Or maybe thet's where our insurance agent is off to... more on that later. *winky thing*)

Our County Supervisor's office has adviced us to keep our ears wide open to find out when President Bush declares a state of emergency in the California counties affected by the floods. (Surely the man can do SOMETHING useful in his term in office, no?) Gov. Schwarzenegger has asked the President to do so, and Sens. Boxer and Feinstein are pushing for it as well, but Bush hasn't yet made a move. Hopefully he will and then we can apply for aid from FEMA. Not clear yet on just what the aid is that's available, it may just be a low-interest loan, but it is worth it to apply, just to have the option. And you need to apply QUICK because with any FEMA relief it's first come first served. So when we hear the news on the radio or wherever, our plan is to pull off the highway to the nearest public computer and APPLY. I hope Bush comes through soon. People here are really hurting. Don't get me wrong, we got it bad, but a lot of people did, and there were people who got it worse. A lady two doors down had to be evacuated by boat for medical reasons. That could have been our son. It's scary.

We are continuing to try to deal with insurance. There aren't enough adjusters in the area for all the claims that have been filed. (Everyone is in the same boat--Ha, Ha, Ha.) Both auto dealers expressed to us when we spoke with them about the two (likely totalled) cars ~three days ago that they each had approximately 30-40 flooded cars/claims ahead of ours in their shop. We have names of supposed claim agents, but they do not answer the phone and do not return calls. So we were thinking they might be fictional people.

We are going to fight the agency all the way to get our contents covered. Fortunately, we have some much needed advice from a few individuals within the industry who have given their input gratis. I have a feeling this battle will drag out for months, but we have prepared to come out with both guns blazing.

As for our own insurance agent, he's decided to take a few days off "to spend some much needed relaxation time with his family." So, he's not even in the office. His secretaries, whom we don't blame for any of this--aren't the secretaries always the ones left holding the bag in situations like this?-- have informed us that the company has called back some agents from Katrina and Rita and are setting up a special emergency claims office 30 miles north of us. However, we've yet to see an adjuster. They're perhaps busy starring in Jonathan Franzen's latest novel, or, and here's where *I'd* rather see them, in that violent, gut-churning, torture laden Quentin Tarantino movie that's been advertised so heavily lately... Forgive me, is my cynicism showing?

However, the real life human beings we've dealt with have been SO kind. People at the hotel have given us free movies on the TV. Two local pharmacies have done rush deliveries and transfers of our son's insulin pump supplies (we were caught short of EMLA cream yesterday--Yikes! But Longs drugstore saved us...). Our video store waived all our late fees and told us to return the DVDs at our convenience, in any condition, and even if they are all lost they won't charge us a thing. And of course, our neighbors have been so kind and helpful. Crises like this really make people pull together.

The writing community have been great also, particularly Backspace (founded by authors Karen Dionne and Chris Graham), who are doing a fundraiser, so many fellow authors being so so nice in a dreadful situation. It really helps buoy the spirits, you know? The first thing that that fundraiser is earmarked for is replacing the children's Christmas gifts that were destroyed, their air hockey/pool table and and card table and the other smaller items like their Boggle game and Monopoly and darts and so forth that were stored in their "clubhouse" in the basement that is now a "mold house." It is really kind, and I don't know who thought of it, but we are SO grateful. The kids, especially, were stunned to hear that people they had never met would even care about what had happened, much less do a fundraiser. So {{{{HUGS}}}} to everyone who is helping out with that.

In addition, many of my diabetes friends have stepped in with offers of help, insulin, childcare and anything else. Legal advice, ideas for wrangling with insurance companies straight from industry professionals... it's all SO APPRECIATED. Thank you ALL.

So don't color me cynical, quite yet.

It's all an interesting illustration on human nature. Human beings are like the little girl with the little curl right in the middle of her forehead. When they're good, they're very very good, and when they're bad, they're...

where's Quentin Tarantino when you really need him?