an account of losses

As we are now pulling out of the pandemic (at least in some form) I am finally getting some perspective on all the losses my family has sustained throughout this time. In some respects, I am at a loss for how to account for the totality of these losses.

What I have learned in the past several weeks, after finding my family’s cottage impacted by extensive water damage from a broken water softener tank, is that insurance companies are not on your side. At all.

This is my mother’s house, the house she was about to return to after sustaining an injury and recovering at an assisted living facility. She can no longer return to this house, and in fact we may now lose this house, because the water damage, and subsequent mold, is appalling.

It reminds me of the houses, or the remnants thereof, after Hurricane Katrina.

The insurance company is deliberating whether they will cover the cost of anything. In the meantime, it gets worse.

Again, I remember the sign posted at the edge of a home decimated by Hurricane Katrina, on a sheet of plywood, in big red painted letters, that read something to the effect of “State Farm let this happen”. What they meant was that their home insurance somehow didn’t cover their losses, and while the insurance company deliberated over paperwork and decimals, the mold grew.

We may talk about floods, and changes in the rain and climate, but what we don’t talk about is how fast mold grows after those water disasters. Just 24 to 48 hours.

A whole house, gone. Decades of intergenerational history slipping away, just like that. As I hunkered down these last few months, waiting for my vaccine, waiting for the coronavirus surge in Michigan to recede, I was so certain that the house was fine. I was checking on it periodically in my mother’s absence. The last time I was there, it was fine. When I went back a few weeks ago, it was not.

And I chalk this up to our pandemic losses. If it weren’t for this pandemic, she would have already returned home, and we would probably have become aware of any issue that lead to this outcome before it became a problem at all. But we waited, we waited for the vaccine so we could return to normal.

Now the possibility of returning to that normal is gone.

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