Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Our Major Insurance Claim for the Year

At least that's what it's feeling like-a yearly insurance claim after what we've dealt with the last few years. About a week ago, in the midst of one of the many severe thunderstorms we've dealt with this June, our house was struck by lightning, most likely multiple times. This storm had some crazy lightning with it, as well as what turned out in our little pocket of the midwest, about a foot, yes, a foot of rain in a 24 hour period. When the lightning hit all the adults in the house heard it. Dad and I jumped up and grabbed the kids after we decided that was too loud for the weather radio to not be warning us of something and headed downstairs to the summer house to stay the rest of what was already early morning. As it turned out, Dad has seen sparks, as well, and knew at that point something had been hit by lightning. We had Auntie sit with the kids (who hadn't really woken up yet at this point) in the summer house bedroom while Dad and I went to grab flashlights. In the midst of this we noticed smoke. In the house. Greeeat. So I ran down to Auntie to take help her take the kids out to her van parked in the drive a safe distance from the house, while Dad gathered fire extinguishers. He had forgotten about the one in my kitchen and so ran and busted through the door in his garage for his (his door is far too easy to bust through). We came back in to hear the sound of water pouring out of the summer house ceiling somewhere (did I mention it was pouring and Dad was in his underwear?). We ran down to the basement and saw where the fire (hoping it was only the one) was and Dad put it out with the extinguisher amidst a lot, a lot of smoke. I turned off the main water line while he turned off the gas. We ran out to the truck and waited for the fire department to arrive (I had called them amidst all that chaos). That took about 20 minutes, and our house would have burned to the ground by the time they made it out. It is one of the risks of living in the country. We are fairly close to town, but in the middle of everyone being asleep, it takes awhile to get suited up and out. They came out and noticed gas leaking and shut it off at the tank, then checked the house for any other issues and fanned out some of the smoke. In the meantime Sully, our new puppy, decided to try to help and followed them into the house. They brought him out to us, thinking we had left our puppy inside (he's an outside dog) so he got to sit in the truck with us. After all was said and done we saw for sure that a main entry point in the house was the TV antenna which sat a good 20 feet above the house and was electrified, though grounded. Unfortunately grounding something doesn't work so well when the pole it sits on leans over to the house gutter to make a new path. The strike traveled the gutter and came into the house again (it came in via the antenna line, too) through the gas regulator on the side of the house. It then grounded out inside where several lines cross at a metal bracket on a floor joist and started  a fire on the gas line it welded through. That fire melted the water lines that sat there and that pretty much was the incident in the summer house playroom. The jolt of electricity blew the antenna apart as well as blowing the ceiling tiles under where the fire started out onto the floor.
So, we knew after a quick run through that most our electric items in the house were toast, even if they were in power strips because a) the jolt was that strong and b) we hadn't replaced a few of them in a long time. We all took off for breakfast (the incident happened at 3:30 am, it was now close to 7) after recomposing ourselves at my mom's house just about 10 minutes away. After we got on the road, though, Dad thought of another plan the electric could have jolted, and was afraid another small fire could have been started there, we turned around to check once more. Everything looked fine at this point. There was little water on the floor in the playroom where the lines burst not much else. So we ate in the closest town over while Pony Gal, Aunties and Grandma B headed to a bigger town over to eat. We garage saled a bit and made a few phone calls to calm our nerves, then headed home. Once home (and having picked up Pony Gal) we went back downstairs to notice A LOT of water in the basement. The main line was off as the it was melted through, so it wasn't that. Water was seeping in from all the baseboards-basically coming up from the ground because there was so much water in our area (our creek which is usually a four foot or so waterway in our back pasture grew to 50 FOOT rapids for that morning's worth of storms). We grabbed shop vacs, made some calls and started trying to clear water out, as it kept coming in. Dad's step dad headed out to help a little later and it took us all day hauling out 12-20 gallons of water at a time, to clean it up. There was easily 1-2 inches throughout the entire 1860 square feet of the summer house, and more behind walls we soon found out as we started removing access panels.
What a nightmare.
Luckily the insurance agent has been great to work with. They were ever so grateful to be working with water and lightning damage versus a toasted house, and informed us that jolt from the lightning could have blown up the house had there been pressure in the gas line. Instead, it just burned the gas coming in. Dad putting out the fire kept it from being a fire loss as well. They sound like they are going to completely cover all the electrical, smoke, fire and water damage, plus pay us for doing all the water cleanup work, which should make our deductible covered by proxy as well. The kids are more afraid of storms than they were. Now they insist on being in the basement and we end up doing a lot of cuddling when they hear the weather radio. Super Boy keeps insisting that "sunder put fire in house", which is cute, but a little heart wrenching. I hope they are able to relax a bit in knowing that God totally covered us here. All things said, we came out fairly unscathed. A little shaken, a lot of work to do, but okay. Things could have been far, far worse but they weren't. Dad is having some trouble sleeping, but I think that will pass with time, or at the very least, once the stormy season lets up a bit.
Now we wait for insurance checks and I have been cleaning like a mad lady-lots of laundry, lots of moving things back into place. That smell from house fire smoke is awful, and clings to things, so we are wiping down walls and painting anything that hasn't already been painted to make sure we can get out as much as possible. Unfortunately I am old-hand at all that from my parents' house fire when I was a teenager. This is tiny in comparison, but smoke is smoke and sheesh. It just forces us to do some items on our big list we weren't planning on anytime soon and many of our item replacements will be "consolidate and upgrades" which will make me very happy. Also, Dad has decided on no more antennas. He won't live without TV, though, so we are now getting dish or direct. Whatever. They mount down low on the back of the house, so his hope is that no antenna will be an entryway again. And in the midst of it all the electric fencer blew so I got to rescue goats who figured it out all too quickly, from the neighbor's yard. They have been living with the sheep while it was repaired, and haven't enjoyed it much (the sheep shelter for summer is not as hearty as their's is). I am moving them back today now that things have been tested.
What a week. I can honestly say I am worn out and a little overwhelmed, but we'll make it. There is just a lot to deal with at the moment (because I am also trying to get food prepped for a 400 person wedding in two weeks). Hopefully that is our big event for the year, or the next couple years, and we can get back to some sort of routine and normalcy soon.

1 comment:

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