Tornado Aftermath Updates: 06/16/11


My tornado memoir – “Twisted” was released on 05/22/12! click here for more details, or to purchase!

Well, I’ve been sitting here for over an hour, staring at the blog title and wondering where to start.

Basically… I’m at the end of my rope with all of this. It’s been more than 3 weeks since the tornado. I’m trying to be strong, but it’s difficult. I could use any words of advice that may be available.

The two BIG problems:

– We’ve been living everywhere BUT our house since May 22. I just want my own bed, my own stuff. It sounds fickle, but it’s really getting to both of us.

– I’m sick of the destruction. I’m more or less used to the destruction out on the street. Our street used to be canopied by beautiful old trees, now it’s open sky. Many houses still have tarps up, somehow all of this has become some sort of twisted new “norm” for me. OK, the tornado destroyed almost everything.

What’s getting to me is the NEW destruction. The big skylight that survived the tornado? Has a bunch of big scratches on it, courtesy of the roofers, who KNEW we were gonna save it. They also completely trampled the hop plants – which were flattened by the tornado, but are now not even THERE. The 2nd year raspberry plants that we were happy to see survived? Also trampled. You can’t even MISS them, I have NO idea how THAT happened.

My car, which had a tree land beside/on it in the tornado? After the tornado, my husband chainsawed it out, for the most part, and we could see that we needed a new window and side mirrors. Well, after the city removed the bulk of the tree – and I have video of them repeatedly slamming it against the car – the car needs extensive bodywork, which I can’t afford. Oh, AND a new front windshield, which – on examining photos taken right after the tornado – was actually NOT broken at the time.

I had BOUGHT a back door, but we couldn’t get it on because the rear quarter panel was damaged AFTER the tornado. I would have been ok with just replacing the door ourselves and not fussing with it, but that bodywork is WAY more expensive than I’m willing to take on for someone else’s fault. Had it just been the tornado, I would have just ignored it and taken the damage as a battle scar. But for city crews to wreck it AFTER it survived? I just can’t deal with that. I’m going to be angry every time I look at my poor, smashed up car

It feels like any time we take a step forward on anything (finally getting a roof!), more stuff gets destroyed. I can’t tell you how sick I am of my stuff getting destroyed at this point. I’m not even big on people TOUCHING my stuff, it feels like an invasion.

This? This is nonsense. All of it. I don’t even know how to wrap my head around any of it.

I don’t doubt that the workers will have to replace the window. The roofing company has been great to deal with, and have been nothing but understanding and agreeable when we brought up the plants and window. It’s just more the… how do I even put this without sounding silly?

Our bedroom is the converted attic. It’s pretty much our dream room, and we love it – it’s like an grown up treehouse, being up there is like getting away from the world. It even had a big jacuzzi in one corner of the suite, all finished with perfectly done cedar, and this big skylight right over it. It’s the whole reason we bought the house!

Anyway, when all of this initial tornado aftermath was going down, it sucked REALLY bad that the majority of the damage was our bedroom, as that was our “fortress of solitude”, you know? I mean, we had TREES shot through the wall of our bedroom like giant evil spears.

The fact that THAT corner survived intact, no problems whatsoever (The roof lifted up on the OTHER side of the suite, was dropped back down) was just this little glimmer of hope and sanity. Now even THAT has been violated by this whole mess.

I’m beyond frustrated. I’m beyond stressed out. I’m just beyond… beyond. I don’t know. I thought I had the strength to deal with all of this, but found myself bawling my eyes out to K’Naan’s “Wavin Flag” this morning, like any of THAT even makes sense.

I’m tired. I’m so tired. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since May 22. I just want my own bed back. My husband and I are both exhausted, and getting crabby from it.

I’m tired of driving back in rush hour, from dropping my husband off at work, just so I can have access to a car in the day… and then driving IN rush hour to go get him. I’m tired of driving between work, the house, my father in law’s house (to take care of the cats), AND the house/hotel we’re staying at, daily, for almost 4 weeks. That’s a LOT of driving around, when trying to piece our lives back together.

Nevermind making all of the design decisions we’re forced to make ASAP. What is the layout of the kitchen going to be? Doesn’t matter that we aren’t putting cabinets in RIGHT NOW, we have to decide it all so they can put the electrical, plumbing, and lights in.

What are we doing for deck design? What style of spindles? What kind of stain? Doesn’t matter that our backyard looks like post-earthquake Haiti (according to someone who was there), and we’re nowhere CLOSE to rebuilding the deck. The roofers are fixing the little mini deck from our bedroom, and it’s gonna match whatever we want for the backyard. So… decisions.

So MANY decisions. We were so proud of ourselves when we picked the wall color and flooring for the kitchen. We felt SO accomplished, it felt like we were getting somewhere… til we realized that we needed lighting. Do you have any idea how many options there are? Oh, and we should get an idea of what we like for door handles and stuff, because we would want THAT to look ok with the lighting. Oh, and counters. There are about 10,000,000 options for counters. We needed an idea of what we want, so we’re SURE about the flooring. Sigh.

I just want to be back in my own bed, with everything fixed, and no more decisions to make. I want my car – my freedom – back. I want a good night’s sleep. I want to stop worrying about how we’ll cover over $100k in damages with $75k in insurance money… not to mention hotel/restaurant costs, as we have no kitchen.

As far as actual updates go, here’s what we’re looking at:

– The car has just been picked up to be cleaned out. $365 to clean it out. AUGH. That’ll deal with all of the broken glass, debris, and hopefully the mold. After that, I just need to get a couple new tires, and I’ll finally be good to go.

– The roof has been completely replaced on the house AND the garage. The “Harbor Blue” shingles look REALLY REALLY good. It’s going to be a very cute house when all is said and done. They’re coming out today to do the new soffits/fascia/etc today. It’s gonna look good. It feels a lot safer just BEING in the house, now that it has a roof. Really nice to not hear the tarp blowing in the wind, through giant holes in the roof.

– The company that did our initial wall repairs / ceilings / painting when we bought the house came by yesterday to assess damage. They sounded positive that they can get it fixed, and that the cosmetic stuff isn’t actually as awful as it looks. Also, it was the first time they’d seen the house since they finished up. They hadn’t seen it with furniture, drapes, and everything we did afterwards. Amongst all the destruction, it felt kind of good for the pats on the back and raves over what we’d done with the place. They – Dakota Painting in Eagan – were SO good to deal with the first time, it’ll be nice to have their cheerful, positive energy around here again.

– We bought a Groupon for a kitchen design consult. She’s been out to get the info, and we’re meeting with her this afternoon. We’ve just been so frustrated in dealing with the kitchen design, it was time to turn it over to a pro. Even SHE is having problems with it – the layout really IS a logistical nightmare. Excited to see it all worked up in CAD, though. It was nice that she is making time to put a rush on our consult/design so that the contractors can come in and fix it.

– The kitchen… oh lord. So, the reason that it’s sagging badly is because one of the main beams/joists (?) under the kitchen isn’t actually supported by anything, anymore. They’re gonna put in a floor jack, and are confident that’ll solve a LOT of the problem. Then, a lot of floor leveller, the walls are being completely ripped out, ceiling being ripped out, etc. All replaced, exterior-facing walls need new insulation, all 3 windows replaced, new walls, ceiling, and floor. It’ll be nice to have some sort of a kitchen back, even if it’s just our appliances in an empty room – no cabinets or counters.

I try to remind myself that this is a “character building experience”.

So… that’s what we’re looking at. This weekend, we finish packing up the kitchen, and then demolish/haul out our cabinetry. That’s going to SUCK.

Also this weekend, meeting with a friend who does landscaping, to try and figure out what we can do with THAT mess. There were big piles of… matter… under our deck. Dirt and .. sawdust?.. and just crap. Gonna have to haul that out and figure out what to do. At least where it’s a friend, I’m assuming it will feel less like the chore that everything else has.

Trying to hang in there…

On the afternoon of May 22, 2011, North Minneapolis was devastated by a tornado. Twisted recounts the Porters’ first 11 months, post disaster. Rebuilding their house, working around the challenges presented by inadequate insurance coverage. Frustration at repeated bouts of incompetence and greed from their city officials. Dealing with issues such as loss of control, logistics, change, and over-stimulation, as an Aspergian woman.

Subjects covered include: Opportunistic “Vultures”, gawkers, new friendships, a bizarre gingerbread house, unique decisions made with the rebuild – including an internet-famous kitchen backsplash, “Tornado Claus”, contractor drama, water balloons, DIY design and work, music, sensory overload, and details on how to cook jambalaya for almost 300 people, in the parking lot of a funeral home… should you ever find yourself in the position to do so. Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

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