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Life Long Reads

Shelter in Displacement

As my vacation drew to a close, I walked into the kitchen one morning to find water dripping down the light fixture and onto the couch from bubbles in the ceiling, an observation that set events into motion that now require us to temporarily vacate the condo. The residence above ours developed a leak in their plumbing and had been distributing water throughout our ceiling, walls, and floor. This created a situation that, laborious at baseline, was made additionally problematic thanks to our constant unwanted companion, COVID-19.

There were difficulties getting someone to come turn off the water to the building. Appropriately, no one is working at the building office; however, that means all issues have to go through an “emergency” phone number. Multiple layers of tenant-landlord relationships must be navigated as both our unit and the one above ours are rented, and that’s before insurance enters the arena.

Once restoration came out, they identified extensive water damage far beyond the initial area I noticed, including the kitchen and living room. All belongings in the affected rooms will need to be packed out by another company and stored until reconstruction is complete. Due to the age of the building and the previous generation’s penchant for constructing with lead and asbestos—the latter of which has remarkable physical properties that make it a perfect mineral aside from mesothelioma—an abatement company will be joining the parade of professionals necessary to rehabilitate the rooms from the misdirected efforts of indoor plumbing.

Since the abode will be uninhabitable during the work, Rachel and I must also must be packed out and stored elsewhere—unfortunately there’s no company for that. We have been trying to parse our stuff for what we’ll need to live in a hotel or AirBnB for an indeterminate amount of time; current estimates are in the range of months.

On the phone, the restoration company seemed oddly familiar with the place. It was no accident—they have repaired it before, several years prior to us moving in, after the upstairs residence developed a leak.