Sunday, July 29, 2012

And then strangers pack up your house

It's been a few days since my last post so I thought I'd write a little something something here while I'm still hyped up from work - I worked until midnight and stupidly drank a red bull at 10 so here I am, w i d e  a w a k e.

I'm still working on that whole house fire post - it's coming along slowly. I'm really finding that it's somewhat therapeutic for me to write it all down. With that said, it's a long process as I'm still in shock (two months later) and find my heart beating a little faster and my mind going a mile a minute when I think about it too much.

The idea for today's post was to show you all some things I've been working on lately scrapbook wise, but I then realized that I still do not have a camera (still at the cleaners) so instead I thought I'd tell you a little about the whole post process of a disaster (the company's words - not mine). I did not know a lot of these things until June and I found it somewhat interesting to find out that there were actual companies who do nothing but clean up and restore people's homes, belongings and really their lives.

First I'd just like to say that I figured we would go in the house ourselves and start cleaning everything. This was pretty daunting to me - the entire kitchen was covered in oil - walls, ceilings, floors, counters, everything. The stove was burnt up and so were a few cabinets. The burnt items were nothing though when you started to tally up the things that had smoke damage. Apparently smoke is a lot more destructive then fire (who knew!) in that it basically gets everywhere. So needless to say, when our insurance adjustor told us that there was a company to take care of all this, I was pretty happy.

The company we went with is called Antrim - they were recommended by our insurance company, who uses them a lot and we were pretty much ready to deal with anyone who could come in and fix this big mess.

So they started. And they packed everything on the main floor of my house (two bedrooms, two bathrooms, an office, living room, and a kitchen). My house is not very big by any means, but they packed it all up into four pods and away it went. From there everything went into cleaning. Paper, books, the recycle bins, clothing, electronics, you name it - it went. Food was thrown out - didn't matter if it had been opened or not. And I mean every bit of food - even bottles of wine that had not even been opened - I guess the cork can absorb smoke or fire extinguisher powder or something. Any items deemed non-salvageable by the company (that was not food) were bagged and tagged but a list has been given to me and anything that I want to keep they have to give back to me (I've opted not to keep anything as I had already removed the items that I wanted to keep regardless of damage). Electronics go into a special type of cleaning system, paper items (books, scrapbook paper, etc) all have their own special system, and hard items (dishes, glass items, etc) have another process that they go through. Anything "delicate", such as eyeglasses and such, get handwashed - and this all gets done at a large facility.

Then they bring all your stuff back. In pods.

It's all boxed up with labels that really mean nothing - one box had "car keys" written on it, but there was a heck of a lot more then just car keys in there! And it feels so weird - I've gone through a few of the boxes to find different things we've needed, and it's so strange to pull out my own belongings and know that they were packed by someone else. There were strangers in my house touching my things and packing them away. I'm sure it's probably the same when you hire movers, but at least when you move you have time to purge out all the things you no longer need. They literally keep everything that can be salvaged - bits of paper, things that were really just garbage but happened to be sitting on a desk or the couch or were in a box. It's a very strange experience.

All of our clothes were packed up and washed - there was even a large box of dry-clean only clothes that were all nice and dry cleaned on hangers in a wardrobe box. The only complaint I have (cause everyone knows how much I hate to do laundry so I really shouldn't complain!) is that every.single.piece is tagged with a number and therefore, every.single.piece of clothing needs to have the tag taken off.
After the packing up is done, while everything is getting all nice and clean, there is yet another division of the company that comes in and takes care of the "burnt bits". For our house it was a matter of ripping out the counter-tops, the cupboards, removing the stove, and sealing the walls. Though only a few cupboards were actually damaged, because they could not match them to the other cupboards, everything went.

After that is all said and done, they bring back your stuff (in the pods, like I said earlier) and they unload it all into whatever rooms you want. They can also do the construction to return your home to it's original state but we opted to do it ourselves as we've been planning to renovate the kitchen eventually anyway.

We had our belongings returned about five weeks after the fire. Our electronics are currently MIA but I've been told they will be delivered sometime next week (week eight). We have not begun unpacking as we still cannot live in the house but it's nice to see all our things so nicely stacked in boxes. I'm anxious to go through and see how things survived but that will have to wait for now. We will be able to move forward with construction soon and I am very anxious for it to start.

That is all I've got for now. I actually did not mean to be so long winded, so if you've stuck with me to the end, I thank you very much! I'll leave you with a picture of what my kitchen currently looks like and perhaps later I will do a post about the changes we will be making. For that though, I need my camera back! I'm missing it very much, but hopefully it will return soon!

Hope you're all enjoying your weekend!


  1. It must be so hard but glad to see it is moving along and soon you'll be back home. Hope you'll get your camera soon!

  2. WOW!!! I love seeing the changes! SO much fun!