A big storm with lots of wind and rain moved through the southeast on January 3. Our property in North Carolina sustained no damage, but my son’s home in South Carolina did. The wind sheared a tall pine tree six feet up from the ground, and it crashed into my son’s roof at 5 a.m. It is a miracle that he was not crushed by the heavy limbs!
Insulation from the attic filtered down through the broken rafters along with branches, shingles, and rain. The living room and front bedroom where he was sleeping were filled with pink fluff, boards, and HVAC duct work. He and his girlfriend had to exit from the back door. When they returned several times to gather clothing, computers, and other necessities, viewing the damage was emotionally overwhelming. How do you go about cleaning up such a catastrophic mess?
My son rented a construction dumpster and put out a call to friends and family, inviting us to a work day this past Saturday. My husband filled a small trailer with tools, large trashcans and buckets, wheelbarrow, shovels, and work gloves. I packed Gatorade and snacks to refuel the willing workers. Boards, drywall, and shingles were carefully stacked in the dumpster so as to conserve space for bulky damaged furniture. A cattle feed shovel came in handy for scooping insulation into contractor trash bags. We brushed insulation off of decorative items, books, and shoes, laying everything salvageable on tarps on the lawn. Within two and a half hours the two damaged rooms were cleared and salvageable items were packed into the trailer.
I volunteered to bring the salvaged textiles home for washing. Several quilts as well as the coat closet were in the blast zone. The items were damp but thankfully not mildewed. I shook off insulation and sawdust produced by the tree removal company and washed the quilts and jackets in warm water. Since none of the quilts were in fragile condition, I dried them in the dryer. They all held up well with this cleaning treatment. I have draped them on the pool table to further air out.
We recovered the quilts and coats, yes, but of greater importance was the emotional comfort given to our son and his girlfriend during the cleanup of the storm’s aftermath. Homeowner’s insurance can repair the house and replace their stuff, but “being there” to help, to hug, to pray, and to lend a sympathetic ear goes further in restoring equilibrium of the soul.