Tornado Aftermath Updates – 08/05/11 (Tons of photos!)

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My tornado memoir – “Twisted” was released on 05/22/12! click here for more details, or to purchase!
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It’s been a while since the last update on our Tornado Recovery. It’s now been almost 2.5 months since the tornado, and… wow. I just had no idea that it would take this long to get anywhere.

For a while there, we were really motoring along. Once we had the shower tiled, and the kitchen “finished” (IE: new ceiling, walls, and floor.. ceiling textured, lights in, walls painted, floor tiled. No cabinets), it really started to feel like we were getting somewhere. Now, it seems like weeks are passing without getting much further forth, for the most part. Here’s where we’re at (photo heavy post):

Bathroom is 90% tiled. The shower has been grouted, and the fixtures reattached in there. Monday this week, we had a working shower for the first time since the tornado – we’ve been bathing in the hot tub, up til that point. Definitely less than ideal! We need to finish tiling about 1/4 of the floor – under and behind the toilet – as well as the wall behind the toilet.

Then we need to grout all the non-shower walls and the floor, attach the medicine cabinet over the toilet, attach the new vanity, and rebuild our built-in cabinet behind the vanity (will be behind the mirror.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that we decided at the last minute to tile Fibonacci sequence into our bathroom wall, which is all kinds of awesome. We’d already tiled the shower, and were about to start the wall… when I joked about how cool it would be to have the code tiled in, like in a “Mathnet” sketch from Square One TV. You know… “One, One, Two, Three, Five… Eureka!”. Well, we did it! Looks awesome:

Click here for the “before” and demolition pics from the bathroom!

Shower, before grouting:

Fibonacci wall, before grouting:

Finished Fibonacci wall:

So that’s where we’re at now. I’m loving the way it looks, and can’t WAIT to see it finished. We’ve just sort of put bathroom work on hold, while the weather is OK to work on the patio/deck. Also, we’re completely beat up after a couple months of 7 days a week, 16 hour work days. Have had to take a fair amount of evenings off, to just chill. Desperately in need of recovery time!

Next up, there’s the kitchen. Well, we have walls, a floor (which I tiled all by myself! Learned a new skill!), and a ceiling. All of the electricity, and lights are installed, and our appliances are in there. We have no cabinets, and will not for a LONG time. It’ll be about a year before we have the wood to make the faces/doors for the cabinets (the black walnut tree that smashed our house is currently being dried at a wood mill!), and we have a bunch of time/weather higher priority projects to finish before my husband can start building the bases of the cabinetry… so that pretty much sucks. Here are a couple photos, though:

Kitchen design scheme:

My tiling job, and the painted walls:

Finally… the back yard.

The back yard has made the most progress of ANYTHING the past few weeks – it’s really quite impressive.

Here’s the yard, the day after the tornado:

After the tree was removed:

After the deck was removed:

As our friend Peter was hauling ~6 dump trucks worth of clay and debris to level what would become our patio area:

Yard leveled, sand and class 5 packed in as the base:

Border laid out, patio pavers started:

Start of border build:

Border in progress:

Yay! Done!

In that last photo, the LONG side of the wall, the tower on the right side of it, and the short wall attached to it? I did that all yesterday morning. All by myself! When I did the math, it turns out that I moved and placed 5830 lbs of bricks, each 40 or 55 lbs! 2.5 TONS of brick! By myself! WOO! Feeling extremely sore, but accomplished – and it was nice to see my husband’s face when he came home to *that* much work done.

Now we have to cut a few bricks to fit in around the edges, and sand/sweep the cracks. Then it’s on to the deck – getting the permit for that was a huge complicated undertaking, but it’s done now. Digging the holes for the footings this weekend – I hope – and we should be able to build the majority of the deck next weekend, as long as those who have expressed interest in helping to build are still available. This has gotten pushed back a couple weeks for weather / logistics as it is…

I just can’t wait till the deck is done. The kitchen will be months away, but having a patio, patio furniture, and a BBQ… well, that’s the closest to having a kitchen/dining room we’ll have had since before the tornado. I’m really sick of sitting on the floor, or on a generator, or whatever to eat our meals.

Here’s a running tally of everything I’ve done for the first time since the tornado (probably missing some things!):

Demolishing walls.
Tiling walls / floor (ceramic)
Grouting walls
Tiling floor (vinyl tiles)
Designing a deck (had help)
Building the patio walls/seating

Damn it Jim, I’m a cookbook author, not a handyman! It really sucks that we have to take on so much ourselves (lack of insurance coverage), but hey… new skills are a good thing, right?

I think that’s about it for now… what do you guys think so far?

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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