There was a point when we were scared of Hurricane Florence–that point where the hurricane was forecast to be category 5 making landfall directly on our house. In the end, she came onshore as a massive storm that caused major flooding and annoyance for all of us — food shortages, traffic, logistical nightmares, and going without power. We were lucky though; unlike some of our neighbors, we didn’t lose any property or our lives. At worst, we had some discomfort and a major clean-up job in our yard.
My parents live very near to us, but on the beach side of the Intracoastal Waterway. When Florence was heading towards us, they evacuated to my childhood home much further inland (ironically, enough, in Florence, SC). After the hurricane went through, one of the first things that we did was drive over and check out their house for any damage. There was a section of the gutter that fell down, but the worst damage was water intrusion from the many hours of wind-driven rain. Their house has a roof deck and buckets of water came in around that door, went through the floor/ceiling, and into the bathroom beneath. Lots of water also came in through a huge, west-facing window. The repair contractors came and measured the moisture and found water had moved through the walls and ceilings all along the main floor of their house. My parents were facing some very lengthy repairs for all the water damage.
The good news was that the contractors could get started on my parents’ house ASAP. They would box up and move their stuff (either to a safe spot in their house or a warehouse), rip out the moisture-damaged surfaces, use industrial machinery to dry everything out, then replace all the affected floors, walls, and ceilings. The bad news was that my parents wouldn’t be able to live in their beach house during this process. Normally, this wouldn’t really even be an issue. My parents still own their home in Florence; they could easily head there for the time of the repairs. The complicating factor was that my parents watch our youngest son for us during the day. Phoenix goes to baby boot camp with his Yaya and Granddad, and we couldn’t be happier that he’s spending his infant days with them. We love the daycare that our older son goes to, but we have so much more peace of mind that Phoenix is in good hands with my parents. But how could mom watch Phoenix and live in Florence? With all the flooding around our rivers and the commute times, the answer was they couldn’t go to Florence, they’d have to stay at the beach.
The only option left to my parents was to move into our house for the duration of the repairs. I didn’t know what to expect from the first day. I really wanted my parents to feel completely welcome at our house, but I can only imagine how difficult it must be to move into your 40-year old daughter’s house, not wanting to impose on her family’s life. We had a great first day though. Mom and Dad brought all of their stuff to our house (including Timothy George, the Shih Tzu), and Mom made us all a really delicious spinach salad for dinner. It always used to drive me crazy how my mom would bring a million small bags when she travelled instead of one large one, but I’ve recently noticed myself doing the same thing, especially with all the stuff we cart around for Phoenix and Ephraim.