Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tearing down

We got to the house early this morning to get things set up. We were expecting around 20-30 people and wanted to organize as best we could. Of course the best laid plans never quite work out... a lesson I have learned in a very hard way this week.

The first group of people showed up shortly after nine, and we figured out the best way for them to help. We had thought we would shovel into buckets and sort, but that didn't seem very efficient. We were concerned about tennis shoes because of nails, but that didn't seem to deter people from heading in to the garage and pulling things out from the house.

Early on we found a pocket of photos that a girl helped sort through. We found broken china and some candlesticks. Someone also unloaded the dishwasher for us. All in all we ended up with about 15 buckets of "salvageable" material. I told one person that there was really a difference between salvageable and recognizable. I would say that most of the items fell into the latter category rather than the former.

We had 40 people come throughout the day, and we were mostly finished by noon. At least half of the people who came were people we had never met or only recently met because of the fire. It was so completely overwhelming to have such an outpouring of support. We are so thankful to everyone who came out. Thank you to friends and family who came out. I am so grateful to the high school girl who sorted through my photos and separated them so they could dry. We had a boy from Timberline come who worked so incredibly hard. Apparently he found out he didn't have to work today so threw on some clothes to join his mom. A local neighbor ensured that everyone had water and continued to stock the neighborhood cooler. One statesman reporter came out, not to report, only to help. Another reporter did do some reporting, but mostly he just sifted through the debris and ash.

By the end of the day, the floorboards had been removed, the debris had been moved to the side, and the entire crawlspace was exposed. I thought we wouldn't be done by tomorrow afternoon, and instead we have little to nothing left to do. I have some sorting, but that is an individual task.

Seeing the foundation with nothing else was the only time I cried today. Insulation hugs the side in some places but the concrete is mostly just bare. It echoes emptiness.

Of the things we recovered, I want to tell you about two of them:

- We found 16 pearls from a pearl necklace and matching pearl earrings. My dad bought them many years ago when he was in Hong Kong. When I was 18, he was diagnosed with stage IV non-hodgkin's lymphoma, and I moved to Boise to be his primary caregiver. At the end of the summer, he gave me the pearls. Two years later during his second relapse, he moved to Washington, D.C., to live with me while he was being treated at UVa in a Clinical Trial. The clinical trial has been successful, and my dad is still here. Having those pearls, though, is incredibly important to me. I don't have the whole strand, but I have enough to recreate a beautiful piece of jewelry that will be a tribute to my dad and the hardships we endured together.

- A letter from my grandfather. His handwriting is impeccable and truly beautiful. I didn't have much from him to begin with, but those letters were a connection to him, especially after he died of bladder cancer. To have one letter he wrote me means so much.

Photos from the Statesman can be found at:


  1. Do you still want people to come Monday? Just want to make sure....

  2. Brooke, someone sent me this info. since you actually found some photos you might be interested. I am not pushing anybody's business, just passing on information.

    Fire Restoration Photos - Neal Collett with Media Specialties, Inc. (343-9135 or 343-9229) - They do a lot of fire, smoke, and water damage restoration work of photographs, documents and artwork. (Big or small) The best results come from those who act fast and get photos in while they are still wet if it is that type of damage. For most all cases the homeowners insurance pays for the restoration. They do work with disaster cleanup companies as well as individuals who need this service.

    Hey, it was fun finding nuggets of treasures today and I especially liked laughing at your sign. We have all needed a good laugh!
    Patti Wagstaff

  3. RossAnne- We are good, I think. We are still going to be out there at 9 if people come. If there are others that need help, we thought we would offer services, but we got through it so fast that we don't need any more help. Thank you for offering to come though. I know it means a lot to Dan.

    Patti- Thank you for the information. I was thinking I needed to look into photo restoration this week. Glad we could provide a laugh during a rough week. You have been amazing, and we are all so incredibly grateful for all you have done.