The small upsides of a large(ish) disaster

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Cactus as seen in Moonta, South Australia.

Recently we had a major flood: inside our office which happens to be inside our home. It wasn't fun and continues not to be fun some time later. I've been pondering what it means and what - if any - upsides there might be.

It all began when nobody was around. We went away for a few days to visit family, during which time we were happily consuming gelato, perusing cacti and sipping bourbon.

Little did we know that the hot water service on the roof of our house had failed. Large amounts of water had leaked into the ceiling directly over the office. Meanwhile the hot water tank kept refilling as water was lost from it, causing the leaking to be endless.

By the time we arrived home late one evening it was as if it was raining from the office ceiling. It appeared to have been going on for several days.

We turned off the water supply and made an attempt to assess and limit the damage - mostly working in the dark as the power had shorted out. We then had to move to a hotel for a couple of nights before further action could be taken (thanks to a public holiday and our slow moving insurance company).

A couple of days later we finally managed to get the power re-established and the hot water system made safe and were able to start work cleaning up and sorting out.

Simone Walsh Jewellery packaging.

Enormous tubs laden with sodden packaging materials, printed matter, magazines, accounting and more were hauled out of the room and sent for recycling.

Electricals and tools were sorted into 'unsaveable' and 'might be okay'. The furniture was all beyond saving, including my lovely mid-century wood laminate filing cabinet. A large number of damp books were boxed up and moved out in the hope that they wont all go mouldy in future. All sorts of little sentimental items were damaged, some beyond rescue.

And in the midst of all of this cleaning up of soaking wet items in a room which was rapidly growing a large amount of mould, we also had no hot water - for days.  Yep, zero fun.

The current situation

Now, weeks later, the office is a completely empty room. The furniture has all been taken away, the carpet has been torn up, the light and curtains removed. Interestingly, on the floor boards we found a rough sketch of the room, presumably done to work out a floor covering soon after the house was built in the early 1960s.

Next step is that those floor boards will have to be removed, along with the ceiling and insulation. Supposedly soon we'll get a new ceiling, new cornices, new flooring and some painting done. But for now the slow moving insurance company continues to move slowly.

We're also in the process of making a reasonable sized claim for the other items lost and getting urgently needed replacements ordered.

Office destruction scenes.

Are there upsides to a disaster?

I've been thinking about this a lot. I'm not remotely glad this happened and of course really would prefer that it never did. It's been a major disruption at a time we had planned to be working on critical business projects. And I'm now stuck without an office space for the foreseeable future, which is making ongoing work difficult.

But, still, there are glimmers of some upsides.

Getting a clean slate

There is something to be said for getting a mostly clean slate.

This event has been an opportunity to clear out a lot of things which were creating unnecessary clutter: some things I've had lurking around for many years and didn't really know what to do with. And it's also an opportunity to get some better and more suitable items to replace those that I've lost.

Beautiful sunset with blue sky.

So once I finally get my office back it should be streamlined, better able to contain the items that really are actually important and hopefully a bit more comfortable and efficient to work in too.

Appreciation of silver and gold

While we've lost a lot of things relating to the business, all of the precious metal (either finished jewellery or components) which happened to be in the room at the time is perfectly fine.

This is a good reminder of how robust the silver and gold materials we work in really are: a quick clean and they're as good as new.

If we worked in lesser materials the loss to our business - and our customers' happiness - would have been far greater and we may well have struggled to fill our orders. As it stands now all is fine on that front and it's business as usual. Hooray!

Really we're lucky

During the unfolding of our own disaster a friend's young son was very seriously ill in hospital. Thankfully he's pulled through, but the potential for a truly devastating disaster in her family certainly put our disaster into perspective: really all we lost was some 'stuff'.

It's a bit of a setback certainly, but it's not the end of the world: we're insured, we can cover any other costs, we'll eventually get it sorted out and all will be fine once more.


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