Like so many of my neighbors, my basement flooded last week. We landed in Atlanta for vacation, got the flooding message as we landed, got return tickets and came home early the next morning. Water came in. We pumped out. We carried out wet things. The water stopped coming in. We continued carrying wet things out. We dried things, pitched things and had many questions.
We went to the meeting on the flood and found out how it all came about. We listened, understood and learned a lot about the system, and went home. Many people had it far worse than we did. I feel bad for the many things people lost. We lost many things as well. In the process, we realized how much “extra” stuff we had accumulated.
While I certainly wouldn't put us in the category of “hoarders” or “pack rats,” we just had accumulated many things over 27 years of marriage, 24 years in our Livonia home and 21 years with our son and 19 years with our daughter.
In trying to put a positive spin on our situation, I told our family that this can be looked at as a “rebirth of our fire- safe basement.” I often preach about fire safety in our home, and the accumulation of combustibles in our basement was not quite as fire safe as I would have liked.
I have been in some homes that had so much accumulated “stuff” that we found it difficult to navigate around. Sometimes this was with our medical equipment and stretcher, and sometimes it was in smoky, hot fires. Accumulations are an easy place for fires to start, and they spread the fire faster.
Our basement now is much “lighter.” I am sad about some of the things that we have lost, but am also relieved that we got rid of so much accumulation is a short period of time. It has also spurred us on to do more cleaning out. We are in the middle of our “rebirth.”
I have dried out many things that I didn't want to throw out. So far, every article I saved from fire magazines I searched and found online. I now have a file on my computer that holds most of those articles. I had some textbooks that I had saved from some of my college classes that I took in the 1980s. I still chose to save my “Fire Related Human Behavior” textbook, which I still refer to. I dried it out and it will continue to be in my basement as a reference. I believe that you will be able to find many of your articles, recipes and books online, too.
I sympathize with my fellow neighbors who lost things in the flood of 2011.
As we put our basements back together, keep fire safety in mind. Do we really need every masterpiece that each child has created over the years?
Avoid excess accumulations, store valuable things on a higher shelf and check your basement smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
Tom Kiurski is training coordinator for the Livonia Fire Department.