We had quite the Easter last weekend – we are all safe and sound back in the apartment, so thankfully there hasn’t been any lasting harm done, but it’s been quite crazy around here the past week.
Mike and I woke up at about 4:50 AM last Saturday morning to the cats running wildly in the bedroom. It took a second to figure out what was going on, but there was a loud rushing sound coming from outside our room. I opened the door and was hit with a wall of steam as hot water came pouring out at full blast from the HVAC closet across from the doorway. I shut the door, but water started to seep in and it was clear that we needed to leave.
We probably should’ve left right away, but we weren’t quite awake and thinking straight yet, so we sat on the bed and called the apartment’s emergency maintenance number, which went to voicemail. When they didn’t answer, we grabbed the cats (one in a laundry basket and one sans carrier) and ran out.
Once we were outside, Mike called the fire department because emergency maintenance wasn’t answering and we didn’t know how else to get the water shut off. The next few hours were me sitting in the car with a loose cat without a carrier and another cat meowing in a laundry basket – we were scared to leave them in the car because they were so out in the open and didn’t want them to jump out when we opened the door. So, I mostly sat there being useless and calling Mike for updates.
After Kirsten was in the car with the cats, I followed around the fire department as they tried to find the control room to shut off water in the entire building to stop the flow of water in our apartment. They apparently weren’t too keen on me just following them as one of them eventually stopped, turned around, and asked me, “Hey man, what’s up?” To which I tactfully responded, “Oh, do you not want me to follow you anymore?” So after that I was pretty much in the dark as to what was happening. I ran into some of our neighbors who were being affected by the flooding—the ones next door to us and one who lives below them on the first floor. Both of them also tried to reach emergency maintenance only to get their voicemail. Luckily, our downstairs neighbor eventually remembered where someone from maintenance lives in the building who was then able to contact the head of construction, who was then finally able to let the firemen into the control room to turn off the water.
So all-in-all, it was about an hour straight of full-blast hot water flooding our apartment. It doesn’t look like much standing water in the video, but that’s because it had started to leak through cracks in the wall to the brick outside and through the floor to the apartment below. Maintenance was able to get some contractors out by around 7:00 to water-vacuum everything.
Around 9 in the morning, we were able to finally get away from the scene and decided to check our cats into a pet boarding place for the next few days. There was in IHOP next to the PetSmart where we left the cats, so we decided to get some breakfast. We finished around 9:45 or 10 and had no idea what we were going to do the rest of the day. We booked a room at a hotel and convinced them to let us check in early. It felt really good to have a bed to lay down in, but we couldn’t fall asleep.
We ended up going to the mall, both to have something to do as well as to get Mike some new shoes since his wet sneakers were starting to hurt. We ended up going to dinner at a place called Coastal Flats in Tyson’s Corner, which was great. It’s part of a Northern Virginia restaurant chain called Great American Restaurants, and eating at each different one is on our list of DC things to do, so it was a happy ending to the day.
The next few days are a blur of going to work, talking to the apartment, and talking to the insurance company. We were able to move back into the apartment on Wednesday, and even though there are still piles of things that we need to figure out what to do with, it’s much more clean and livable again. All of the urgent problems are out of the way, and next steps are to take an inventory of things that were damaged to begin the process of getting them replaced.
I am so thankful that we had renter’s insurance – it’s not very much money per month, but has saved us so much in covering all of our displacement costs and helping us cover the damage to our furniture and personal belongings. Most of our furniture is water damaged on the bottom couple inches, and some of our electronics are fried, but it’s not as bad as we initially thought. I think the scene improves dramatically once you’re no longer slushing through a giant puddle of water that used to be carpet. Anyway, renter’s insurance has been well worth it for us and it would be much more than just the inconvenience it is now had this not been the case.
I’m very grateful also for the fact that it was a burst hot water pipe and not a fire, and that we were home at the time, and that it’s only things and not people that were affected. In the end, this is minor in the grand scheme of things – burst pipes are not a rare occurrence, and some people are affected by much worse events outside of their control.
Finally, I’m thankful that Mike and I make a great team. Our approach to challenges in life is to divide and conquer. We both feel like we complement each other well, and it makes it easier to get through difficult times when we both have someone to fall back on to take care of the things we can’t.
Thanks for all the kind words and well wishes! Everything has turned out just fine, and our first married Easter probably isn’t one we’ll ever forget!