Better And Better

One of the joys of apartment living is that you are not solely responsible for your own well-being.  So when your neighborhood is suffering from “rolling” (i.e. random, lengthy and sporadic) blackouts, and the outside temperatures are well below freezing (e.g. 21°F yesterday), you can take all proper precautions that you’re told to do — conserve energy and heat, keep taps running to prevent pipes from freezing, bursting and flooding, and so on — that does not mean that your upstairs neighbors who hail from, say, Hyderabad are going to follow the same instructions precautions because such weather conditions are unknown to them and…

Yes, Gentle Readers, a water pipe burst on the top floor of our block late yesterday, flooding (and I mean flooding) all the floors below — we, of course, being on the ground floor ergo  getting all of it.

So we ended up with a foot of water in our apartment which came in through any of the various holes in our ceiling (e.g. smoke detectors, light fittings, air vents and, eventually, wall electrical sockets).  To give you an idea of the carnage, we put a tall kitchen trash can under one of the leaks, and it filled to the brim in about four minutes.

The apartment management acted in typical molasses mode, managing to turn off the water supply some two hours after said flood was reported.

It looks as though all our stuff has been destroyed:  furniture, beds, carpets, and even some of the artwork which was hanging from the (sodden) walls.  A lot of clothing has gone bye-bye as well as things like towels which we initially deployed en masse  to try to stem the water — all of course to no avail.

The guns are okay — they’re kept in a safe quite high off the floor — although I haven’t checked on their condition yet, the carpeted floor around the safe seems quite dry.  Ditto the ammo, which is kept in another safe in the garage which was mercifully spared the carnage, I think.

Right now, New Wife and I are, like refugees from some natural disaster, huddled at the long-suffering Doc Russia’s place, two suitcases of clothing between us. Thank gawd for Scotch — although I note with alarm that his J&B supply is near extinction.  (Just how much more distress must I undergo, I ask, with tears falling into my glass.)

In about six hours’ time I’ll head back to the apartment to see the full extent of the damage.  I expect all sorts of fun like frozen water (temperature as I write this:  18°F, or -8°C to those of the other persuasion) both inside and around the apartment, assuming that is that I can actually get there as we’re also having a medium-heavy snowfall which will turn to ice immediately once it hits our (un-salted) north Texas roads.

No odds on being able to get into the garage either because the power is out, the oh-so-convenient electric door-opener being suddenly not-so-convenient.

And just to add to the joy, all the neighborhood hotels are closed because there’s no power.  I managed to find an extended-stay hotel way the hell to the east from tomorrow night onward, for at least a week.  This will not help New Wife get to her job, the only consolation being that her school is closed for the rest of the week — but next week she faces a 30-mile commute instead of her regular 5-mile trip.  (Of course, what she’s going to wear is a matter of some interest;  we did manage to save at least a couple of her outfits, but they’re going to have to relax the dress code quite substantially.)

Bloody hell, even our suitcases (which are kept in a storage locker off the patio) were ruined, so we arrived at Doc’s looking like Belgian refugees circa 1940 France.  (No horse-drawn carts and no Messerschmitts strafing us, but the former was impossible as the horses would have frozen to death and the latter made unlikely because of the shitty weather.)

I’ll post pics from the disaster zone when I’m able to take some.

So it looks as though 2021 — for Your Humble Narrator, anyway — is going to vie with 2020 for the title of Shittiest Year In Memory.  It was bad enough that we had no power and were cold in the apartment;  we had made provisions (SHTF stuff) and were surviving.  Then came Noah Time, and now all bets are off.

We have renter’s insurance, of course, but even the insurance guy was unreachable yesterday because he too lives in an area which has had no power for three days.  So I’m in the dark as to what will happen next, financially speaking.

Aaaargh.  As New Wife put it:  “Come to sunny Texas, they said;  it never gets below freezing, they said.”

When we get our lives back together again, we can address the Texas power generation topic, as outlined by Tech Support 2.0 below.


  1. I am so, so sorry. Everything about this weather event is awful.

    Putting my archivist hat on, though, there is one small benefit: anything that freezes gives you time.

    I can’t speak to works of art, but freezing paper materials (documents, books, etc) is a viable temporary preservation tactic in a crisis. The paper won’t suffer more than it already is and the freezing halts the formation of mold and mildew.

    You have time to find a conservationist or plan out a recovery strategy for your materials as long as they remain frozen. Finding sufficient freezer space will be a challenge depending on what you have (know any butchers or restauranteurs?) but you won’t have to worry about too much more damage until you start thawing things out.

    I can go dig up some archivist disaster recovery materials if you’d like.

    All the best.

    -Freezing in Denton

  2. My buddy in Fort Worth found out that the gas fireplace in the house he bought six years ago works this week. I guess he had power for at least a short time yesterday but I haven’t checked in with him to see if he was still up and running. I was actually thinking about driving down from PA to visit him around this time just like last year when it was t-shirt weather (for me at least) down there, but instead I’m busy digging out and chiseling ice up here too. Hope things warm up and the insurance company is more responsive than ONCOR.

  3. The two of you are fine. That’s what matters. Your insurance can cover the rest. A tip I picked up somewhere is to make a spreadsheet of everything for which you’re claiming.

    1. Thankee. The PayPal button is over on the right side of the page… just scroll down till you get it.

  4. Glad y’all are safe. Keep in mind that it’s just “stuff”. Speaking as someone who just went through a divorce and watched half his “stuff” walk out the door, it might actually help you determine what you really needed versus what was just sitting around as unused clutter. And it’s your opportunity to buy nicer, upgraded stuff should you choose to do so.

    Losing heirlooms sucks, but in the grand scheme of things, your life is more important than any material possessions. Try not to get drown, frozen, or electrocuted while you’re digging out.

  5. What a total piece of Goat Copulation, I am so sorry to hear about your experience in the current weather event, where is Glow Ball warming when you need it. I knew we were getting read to do Old Testament stuff but I did not expect Job. Be careful walking around on the glazed surfaces out there as you work on your salvage operation. One of my buddies has a nice younger wife who fell a few days and fractured part of her new hip replacement, be careful.

  6. Document everything– Lots of photos of all the damage. —- ASAP — Insurance companies live on paper work. Make inventory lists of everything. Keep copies of all communications with apt management , Notes on calls made with times and dates. As much documentation as possible. Be careful using the word flooding. You have water damage caused by negligence of others above you . It was not caused by the weather. You may not be covered for damage beyond control ( Force Majeure clause in your policy ) Get some advice from an actual Lawyer be fore accepting what ever payment might be coming from the insurance company …. and remember your insurance agent works for the Insurance company – not you – no matter what he claims or how nice he is or how well you know him.

    Insurance claims are adversarial transactions—- cover all your bases. The insurance companies are looking to settle as cheaply and as quickly as possible..

    And don’t forget to add all your temporary living expenses to ypur claim. Sorry if this sounds a little cold at this point , But the insurance companies have been through this many times and like the used car salesman they are much better at the game than you. ……. and they will use every advantage they can.

    1. What he said, GT3Ted, about insurance companies they can be real slick and slimy. One of my good friends had an insurance agency selling property and casualty and after Katrina he was given a temp job as a phone adjuster working in Dallas, he made a lot of money with per diem, etc. He told me that he was a first response guy and when he was talking to the folks trying to get claims started the first thing he would ask them is how much food did they have to throw out of the refrigerator and freezer and lot of those with loses had not even thought about that, what ever they said he would add a few hundred dollars and they never argued with him and thought the insurance company was wonderful. That was a bit of seduction before they screwed them when the field adjuster showed up and went to work and it helped set the mood for the nice insurance company to be fair with them, depending upon the definition of fair. Great advice above.

      1. I don’t know how you stand the blends, Kim. I can barely take Dewar’s or Famous Grouse, let alone any of the others. I have to have Speyside single malts, The Macallan, Balvenie or Aberlour are at the top of my list. The Glenlivet or The Glenfiddich on the low end. Unfortunately, with the incredible increase in the price of scotch, I am reduced to drinking it sparingly.

  7. Folks, I’ve been through this. The most helpful thing to have during a crisis like this is money.
    Hit the PayPal account over to the right.

    Why? Because no one should have to drink J&B Scotch in hard times. Or good times.

  8. Sorry to hear about you issue. Maybe getting a claim against the other immigrants might get more traction. Depending on the carrier they have. In insurance speak they are the proximate cause of your loss.

    Hope things work out for you. Being cold can turn minutes into hours and hours into days.

  9. You can be prepared for all the disasters you can imagine. That’s when life comes up with one you don’t expect.

  10. Remember the Mayan stone calendar? The one that indicated the world would end in 2012? Turns out the guy carving it had dyslexia, and meant to carve 2021.

    Okay, not that funny. I hate hearing about what’s happening to you.

    Time to form a Tenant’s Ad-Hoc Anti Dipshit-On-The-Top-Floor Committee, perhaps?

  11. You poor SOB. I sympathize. Several years ago, I had a boiler failure – pin hole leak in a cast section at 6 years of use. Was 1200 miles away but daughter sent me photo of the boiler sitting in an inch of water. No problem with potable water as taps were turned on. However the hydronic heat pipes suffered 4 leaks.
    You would think that your apt complex would have done a drain back of the piping once it looked like power was out long-term. I guess even Texans who weren’t from Hyderabad wouldn’t think about that.


  12. I’m sitting in a house on the outskirts of Houston with power on and off, about 4 hours on, 4 hours off, since yesterday.

    We had 2 burst pipes and 2 ceilings came down. We have no water (ALL of Houston), and the furnace, when it can run, can’t really heat the house, because of the GIANT GAPING HOLES in the ceilings.

    But at least I can still sleep here, and cook here on the gas range.

    Posting during one of the intervals with power.

  13. Good grief.

    Well, this is what the SHTF gear is for. Glad you had some. (Note to self: throw cash money into the emergency bin.)

    Reach out if you need anything.


  14. I am old but I still have a lot to learn, our daughter and her husband who live here in the same town Boerne live across the street from the huge ancient Catholic Church complex where they have a convent that is basically a nursing home for ancient nuns so they are keeping the electricity going in that neighborhood. Also the church has taken in a lot of homeless and people who need heat to stay alive sot there is that.

    We have had about 12 blackout things and they are getting much shorter, when I was talking to daughter about my food in the freezer and refrigerator if the power stay out too long while the temp was below 20 and at times in single digits she asked me if I had thought about putting the food outside instead of bringing a power cord through a window from my generator which I was thinking about doing. Yep, a simple solution that had never occurred to me.

  15. Oh, what a bugger.
    Hope that you can salvage much of your things; and the insurer is reasonable.
    Somehow the name “Texas” does not sit with ice and snow. What happened to all those Longhorn cattle? To the Ewing Ranch?
    Even our local weather analyst had a story about your weather. Says it should reach 20 C in a few days.
    Al Gore will need to convert to the Club of Rome (at least I think it was that bunch that predicted we all would be frozen in our beds)

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