“There’s no place like home” might seem like a cheesy quote from a movie to some, but to us it’s now the story of our lives. Tuesday, January 7, 2014 we were having our nightly dinner together in our kitchen that was just starting to come together after living in our home for nearly 5 years. My custom built spice rack that my husband made me (I collect spices… and salt & pepper shakers…) adorned the wall, my brand new KitchenAid (in raspberry ice color) that I’d been saving up for, for what seemed like forever sat proudly atop the counter, and we had just finished saying the blessing when we heard what sounded like a huge metal appliance falling upstairs.
Immediately, I rushed upstairs to look around thinking either: my 10 year old son left something too close to the edge, or worse – there were burglars scaling our home and knocking things over to gain access. Oddly enough, I found nothing out of place and all windows secure. Very strange, but we moved on with our dinner and our night, even trying the “boiling water experiment” that we saw on Youtube earlier that day, as it was the perfect night for it – absolutely freezing outside. Little did we know, the freezing temperatures were up to much sinister acts than just turning a measuring cup of water into a puff of fog on our front lawn.
Fast forward to the morning of Thursday, January 9, 4:13AM. I awoke suddenly, and just couldn’t fall back asleep. This wasn’t a huge freak occurrence, as I toss and turn sometimes, although, I kept hearing little noises that kept me stirring. I heard a dripping sound, with the occasional popping sound thrown in, and although I’ve told this story at least a dozen times, I have chills writing it out, and my eyes are welling with tears. In my half-asleep stupor, I convinced myself I was hearing things. At the very least, maybe my mother (who lives with us) was up making coffee (she loves her coffee) and messing about in the kitchen.
I couldn’t shake this strange feeling though, and to my horror, would soon find out why. I checked my phone close to 5:00am, and was elated to see a “Best Offer” bid on the car we had been trying to sell on eBay. I was thrilled because we were hoping to sell our car and use the money for tires and other much needed repairs on our family vehicle. Not even 2 minutes later, I was startled by the loudest series of noises I’d ever heard. I can’t explain the sound, except that it was probably the most frightening thing I’ve ever heard in my life. All sorts of thoughts raced through my mind, as my husband startled awake and we both looked at one another for a moment before he jumped out of bed to turn off our air purifier (which we use as white noise mostly, to help us sleep) and listen closer.
Terrified, I asked my husband what was happening, and moved my daughter over as I slipped out of bed to follow behind him and inspect the house. As we opened our bedroom door, I could hear what sounded like a waterfall and immediately I felt both relief and horror. Relief that, it probably wasn’t someone (or something, like a car or airplane?) breaking into our home, and horror because my first thought was that our dishwasher had fallen out of place (it wasn’t all that secure to begin with, and sometimes when my toddler would lean on it, I would fear the bolts coming loose), and there was going to be some gushing water to stop and clean up, and I may have to wash dishes by hand for the next few weeks.
Most nights, when my husband goes to bed after me, he leaves every light in the house on (“Were you born in a barn?!” is an recurring expression around here.) Tonight though, I am thankful that he left the lights on, because what I felt and saw would have been tenfold more frightening in the dark. My feet became wet as I walked down our short hallway, and I paused, horrified at the entrance to our once beautiful kitchen. I instantly regretted hoping it wasn’t the dishwasher, as that would have been a cake-walk compared to what we are dealing with now.
“The sky is falling” immediately came to mind, as the majority of our kitchen ceiling was now on the floor, and there was a cascade of water flowing from above. Everything from there on felt like some sort of dream, and my memory is still fuzzy. I called 911, and we quickly got everyone out of the house, and ran back inside to grab some important documents/items before the local police arrived and very sternly shouted “Everyone out of the house, now!” as another big piece of ceiling crashed down out in the kitchen. My mother-in-law thankfully lives right down the road, and our car battery was frozen from the cold, so we called her to pick us up and get the children out of the cold, early-morning air.
After talking to the police, a plumber, and a few other people, we found out that a hot-water pipe (used for heating our home) had burst (probably the other night, when we heard the first loud noise) and our whole first story ceiling had been filling up with water up until it gave way under the pressure. We have been furnished a 30 day hotel stay by our home insurance company, and are thankful for that and also for our family who have been very supportive, but we feel a great deal of sadness and loss for our home. I am praying that this is fixable, and that we can have our beautiful home back, but in the mean time we are dealing with a wide range of emotions and confusion.
The most important thing is that we all made it our with our lives. I know that God was protecting us, because that water could have broken through anywhere, it could have been in our bedroom, which is not even 10 feet from the kitchen. We have plaster walls/ceilings, and plaster is very hard, and could have easily killed or badly injured someone. The plaster that fell dented our microwave, and several other kitchen items, and yanked our ceiling fan and lights from where they were suspended.
We immediately called to have our water and electricity shut off, so that we could avoid a possible electrical fire or further damage. Our insurance company informed us that there was a great deal of burst pipes and damage in our area, as temperatures reached the lowest they’d been since 1994 this week and have been causing many problems. I have to wonder though, was everyone’s damage this bad? Our home is uninhabitable at this point, and we don’t truly know the full extent of the damage as I write this letter. I am hoping that the insurance company will be able to make things right, and that all repairs will go smoothly, so that we can be back in our home soon.
I don’t know how everything is going to pan out, or what’s going to happen to our home. I know for certain our entire downstairs ceiling is likely going to be torn out, along with our flooring in the kitchen, hallway, and possibly living room. We are unsure about the walls yet, or what other areas might have been compromised, as there was water in our basement also last time we checked, and the ceiling by our stairs going upstairs has a hairline crack with water leaking as well. My husband is between jobs right now, currently laid off, and everything is stacking up against us. Our faith, however, is unwavering, and we are praying and waiting for a miracle.