Sunday, November 20, 2005

This Old Trailer

Sorry I haven't posted, I've been dead inside.

About 3 and a half weeks ago I reported that we were about to get a FEMA trailer. Will anybody be shocked to hear that we do not yet have said trailer? Not likely. FEMA has good intentions, and even a lot of money. Just not much for organization. Here is the story thus far:

On Nov. 2 I got a call from a FEMA subcontractor named Justin that they had a trailer for me, I just had to get the yard cleared to place it and find out where the main sewer cleanout is so it could be hooked up. I had to do this in two days, from a couple of hundred miles away, and I had to get into town to sign the paperwork. Ugh. Fortunately, I have a contractor and a checkbook, so my man Boudreaux got the yard taken care of. I called the city Water Board to have them look up the location of the sewer line. They give me some measurements, which I pass on to Justin, everything's cool.

By Friday it's clear that I cannot get back to N.O. to sign anything, as Baby Stella had a doctor's appointment and we were just not ready to leave Houston. Justin, who is really a nice guy who lives on my street, says he can hold onto the paperwork, and that he can't find the sewer drain anyway. I promised to look for it when I got into town the following Monday.

We didn't actually make it back until Wednesday, by which time Justin and Boudreaux have both looked for the missing pipe with no luck. We thought it might be buried under the pile of debris which had just been moved OUT of the yard. Great. I called the city again to check on the measurements, and learn they didn't give me one diminsion: the depth. The damn pipe is buried 4 feet down. (Incidentally, their records say the house was hooked up to the sewer system in 1916, ten years before I thought it was built.)

Naturally, FEMA ain't gonna dig no four foot ditch. Justin advises us to find a plumber who can hook up a pipe to the existing plumbing in the house. At our expense, of course. Finding a plumber in New Orleans right now is like getting a window table at Galatoire's on Mardi Gras day. There is just no way. With some ingenuity, Mr. Nola found a plumber in Atlanta who was planning to come down this week, and agreed to hook us up. However, the house plumbing was disconnected prior to the levelling in July, so he has to get to the main sewer line. So we'd have to dig the hole ourselves. Now Mr. Nola can add ditchdigger to his resume.

That brings us up to date. Mr. N will dig the hole tomorrow, and hopefully the plumber will come on Monday. The debris that we paid $800 to have moved in two days would have been picked up for free by the city this week, but you know, FEMA couldn't wait.

Hey, I changed my name

Everything is different now, so I'm renaming the blog too. The plans we had to renovate our house pre-Katrina are now totally irrelevant. The work we had done over the summer, about $20K worth, was destroyed. We are starting from near-scratch in planning and decisionmaking. We're not even sure if we're going to renovate the old house or build a new one. On one hand I'd like to sell for whatever we can get and leave, on another thinking about buying the lot behind us to expand our yard. It's a whole new moldy world down here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Fun with FEMA

I just got off the phone with a nice man who is a contractor for FEMA, who has a TRAILER with my name on it. Woo and hoo! Actually, I'm not particularly anxious to live in a 250 sq ft trailer in the middle of the toxic dust storm that is New Orleans, but it would give us base camp in town and someplace to store stuff we want to salvage from the house. The trick though is that I have until Friday to get the yard cleared of debris so we can put the trailer on it, and I have to go to N.O. to sign the paperwork. We're about six hours away. If I don't get the lot cleared in time for the trailer to be delivered Friday, it goes back to the warehouse and I get knocked to the bottom of the list.

Fortunately, New Orleans is crawling with workers right now. I just have to find myself one with a bobcat, because the yard's still full of the bricks and demolition debris from the old kitchen. They'll have to dump the stuff out on the sidewalk or on the median, because there's nowhere to take the trash yet, but it would at least by out of my way and the problem of the Army Corps of Engineers instead.

Sorry I've been so long in posting, there just really hasn't been much to say. I went into town for a couple of days last week, it looks like f---ing Baghdad. All of the grass and plants are dead and the trees lost a lot of branches, so it's brown and dusty. Every house has a refrigerator in front of it. The stoplights don't work, but the streets are clear. I walked through the house with Boudreax the contractor, and it has just enough damage that it's a toss-up between trying to salvage the framing and put it up on a new foundation, or clearing the lot and starting over. My vote is for starting over, since that will allow us to rebuild with concrete walls and storm-resistant windows. I have a total crush on insulated concrete form construction.

Oh and word to the wise, stay away from Countrywide mortgage. Trust me on this.