Spring has been wild this year in St. Louis. A tornado hit Hazelwood in April, and then last Friday a much bigger tornado came through. It began in St. Charles and swept across North County, including Ferguson.
This is day five of the Renaud Empire in exile. Or maybe we could call it Operation Expand Our Borders. Or maybe we could just say day five of “vacation” in the “Renaud Empire Southeast.”
However you look at it, things are going fairly well.
The girls like the rental home. It’s bigger than our own place, with lots of room to play. I have seen them use a hall closet as if it were a little playhouse. Yesterday Jadzia and Ludi were out in the fenced backyard playing by themselves. Jadzia found an empty birds nest on the ground under some shrubs, which she thought was really cool.
We have visited the nearby park twice. It’s just a quick walk, and the girls really love it.
At this point, our main inconveniences have been:
- Getting Channel 9 (KETC) on the TV. We don’t watch a lot of live TV, but when we do it is usually PBS. But KETC just wouldn’t come in. Yesterday I had a breakthrough and I hope we have figured it out. (it involved rearranging all the living room furniture).
- No Internet for a week. AT&T can’t get us going any faster than that. My old dialup took less than an hour to start, and Charter can get you going the same day. But AT&T still has by far the best price for broadband, so I guess I’ll wait.
- no dishwasher.
- missing kitchen tools. We’ve bought a few and pretty much have most of the essentials now.
As far as the Renaud Empire headquarters home goes, we are in waiting mode. We have been meeting with the contractor and an architect, and hope to have plans ready soon. Ferguson has to review them before they will let us even begin demolition. It could be 2-3 weeks away, which is frustrating. But we’ve got to keep our eyes on the end result, which will be a greatly improved house. That keeps us motivated.
Friday and Saturday have been a blur. Most of our time has been spent packing and moving our stuff from my parents’ house (and our own) into a rental house in Woodson Terrace, just south of the airport.
(Keep reading to see a video)
Looks like many things are coming to a head this week.
Tomorrow our contractor will come out and begin demolition and cleanup at our house. Meanwhile, our insurance adjuster has nearly finished his estimate, so this week we should finally have some firm figures.
Also we have decided to move into a house in Woodson Terrace, just a stone’s throw from our friend Dave. Assuming all the paperwork goes through and there are no hitches, we could move in Thursday or Friday.
One thing just about everyone looks forward to in Ferguson is the return of the farmers market. This year probably doubly so, because of the tornado and storm that ripped through North County last week.
We saw many friends and acquaintances, and my youngest brother even showed up! Many expressed their concern about our house and offered their help and support.
Since our yard and gardens are toast for a while, we didn’t load up on plants and perennials like we normally would at an early spring farmers market. We did buy some salsiccia, asparagus, and pastries.
Since Jonny was there, we took him to see the damage to our house, and he helped me grab a bunch of dirty laundry from the basement.
I pulled up to our house this morning and found my insurance adjuster around the back. He was climbing what remained of our tree, snapping photos of the broken kitchen. Our tree guys had cleared away much of the oak yesterday and liberated our home of its trunk.
We pored over every detail. “How many windows did your sunroom have? Your house had hardwood floors throughout, right? How old is your roof?” He used debris and other evidence to figure out the dimensions of the sunroom, the number of windows, etc. I was surprised to learn our house had a shell of 4 inch cinder blocks, with plaster applied directly to the blocks. The brick was a veneer around the outside of that.
My contractor arrived and we went through the house. The adjuster took careful note of cracks in the walls. He found new cracks in the living/dining room, and certainly the massive cracks on the south wall of the girls’ room were substantially worse.
We opened the basement window and clambered down. (The adjuster complimented me on being limber. First time for everything) Same story down below: some suspicious new cracks. At a minimum the entire south wall and cinderblock foundation must be replaced.
But there’s the catch: At a minimum. There is a possibility they may decide to total the house, and we would build the entire thing anew.
The adjuster will give his assessment to State Farm and we will have to wait to find out what they decide. It could be a number of days before we know. If they total it, then we’ll need to move out all the furniture, etc. But if not, we can leave most of it in the front of the house.
One part of me is excited by the prospect of a new house. But it’s too early and honestly I don’t know what to think. I know there is a long road ahead. We will be displaced at least three months, but probably more like six. Will it affect our vacation plans? Will it be a giant headache?
There’s so much uncertainty. We are thinking and praying. And waiting.
Though I had hoped we would get to it sooner, tree cutting finally came today. As I write this, the guys are hard at work slicing that monster into small pieces and getting it all out to the curb.
The following video shows the tree removal early in the process this morning and then again in the afternoon when I brought the girls to see the tree before it was gone.
It has come to my attention that folks have been calling our old number, and obviously receiving no answer.
For now, please use this number: 314-200-5760.
It’s a Google Voice number that will forward to whatever phone we are near.
Here’s a short video highlighting the damage done to our house.
Here’s the story in a nutshell: a huge tornado-producing storm swept across St. Louis. North County was hit particularly hard. Our giant oak tree in the backyard fell on our house. The sun room was destroyed, and much of the kitchen is collapsed.
The important thing is that we are all safe and sound. Yoli and the kids were home alone and I was at work, but they took shelter in the basement and were protected. Our neighbors helped them get out of the basement through a window.
Anyway, here’s the video: