Friday, August 21, 2015

Home is not so sweet: flooding and useless management

Given my on and off again presence here on my blog over the past year or so, you've probably gotten used to it. Maybe you have been thinking I must not be feeling well because I haven't been posting. That's only partially true. The reason I haven't been around for about two weeks is because on Tuesday, August 4th my apartment flooded.

(Here is where I need to say, "Shaunalynn, if you make one flooding joke I'm gonna disown you.)

It sounds as dramatic as it was. Let's see if I can tell you what happened in as little words as possible. Be forewarned, however, that the tale may get a little lengthy and I really hope you'll stick around. (I'll see more negative bounce rates and time on blog reports that will make me cry if you don't.)

(Please forgive the quality of the photos & video. I have not had a chance to do any editing.)

What really happened?

According to "reports," - the mouths of people who were working on the plumbing and other maintenance personnel - a pipe in the water access panel "just" broke. After listening to the men a little further, I heard one of the plumbers mutter, "Damn rotted pipe." Wait, I've gotten ahead of myself:


There is a water access panel outside and to the right of my front door. The water had been turned off at about 9 a.m. that morning because there was an emergency plumbing problem in one of the units in my building. That's what I was told; along with: "It'll be a couple of hours." Around 1:30 p.m., I saw the same plumber, working in the access panel, who notified me about the water being turned off and told him it's been more than a couple of hours like he said. He apologized and said they had another problem within said panel and they were working as quickly as they could.

Although I would have preferred to stand and harass them (you know you want to do stuff like that, too), I went into my apartment, sat on the couch in the living room and picked up my laptop for some Internet browsing. I was sitting there for less than an hour when I heard an extremely loud popping sound. Seconds after that sound water began gushing under my front door and from under the laundry room door. By the time I closed my mouth and rushed to the door the water was already flowing over my feet and was up to my ankles.


This is the closet where the water heater is stored inside the laundry
room. The water was flowing through and the wall from all corners. 

All of that debris and the insulation from inside the wall was
pushed out by the force of the water.


Initially, in those few seconds, when I heard the loud pop outside of my door and the subsequent gushing of water I didn't think much of it. It's not the first time the maintenance crew or a plumber has opened a value and let the water run. When I saw the water coming under the doors, I jumped up and yelled, "Hey!" I thought the plumbers were still there because it hadn't been but a few minutes since I heard them talking outside of the door.



See the water stains left by the running water?
This is next to my front door.

I opened the door and no one was there. Just the water splashing me and running over my feet. I immediately called the rental office and they sent the plumbers directly back. They arrived, cigarettes in hand and just stood there staring at it. One of them muttered, "Damn rotted pipe..." Some of the maintenance men arrived and sort of chuckled at the flow of water until they saw it flooding my apartment and us running around like little roadrunners trying to pick up everything.
This is the bottom of the same wall.




It took very little time (about five minutes or less) for the water to cover the entire living room, sunroom/office, dining area as well as my bedroom and closet - not to mention the laundry room. My children, myself, and a friend watched helplessly as the water spread.

Things went downhill from there.


My friend and I were talking about how the property manager or at least a representative hadn't called or came by to check on us. No one was saying what was going to be done or what to do. I was becoming more upset by the minute and my friend kept insisting I call the manager (um, was that a little blame?). It was something I was going to do but was trying to wait for things ... namely me ... to settle down.

I even asked one of the maintenance employees if someone was going to visit the apartment to see what’s going on and make an assessment or, at the very least, check on us. He was as surprised as we were. 

I called the property manager, Jasmine, around 4:30 p.m.

You said what?

Understandably, I was upset because I was still watching the water seep through the apartment and we were still rushing around picking up personal items before the water could reach them. Even once the pipe stopped flowing the water was still creeping through the carpeting. That had not stopped by the time I spoke with Jasmine.

When I began speaking with her my voice was a bit elevated (I talk loudly under normal circumstances) and even. I became increasingly annoyed at Jasmine because she refused to listen. She was cutting me off before I could finish a sentence and making assessments based on a verbal report instead of seeing what was really occurring. 

My voice became elevated and I was expressing to her the need to get the wet carpeting removed and the repairs started immediately because I am a cancer patient (Multiple Myeloma) with a compromised immune system. (I have three autoimmune disorders including the MM and I have not yet received all of my vaccinations since my stem cell transplant.) 

Jasmine seemed to barely hear what I said and stated that the carpeting would not be removed and that it would be dried and treated. The gentleman from the carpet team said that isn’t possible and it needed to be removed and replaced; his statement was verified by maintenance who also recommended I should get the new tile they'd been installing in other units instead of carpeting. 

Trying to relay all of this to Jasmine along with what those "on the scene" were saying was near impossible and my loud voice was definitely louder. When she told me to stop yelling at her I had had enough. First, I had to let her experience what me actually yelling sounds like. Then I just went off the edge of "you done messed with the wrong person" mountain. 

Several conversations with Jasmine didn't resolve anything even when my friend tried to talk to her. He stated that she's rude, condescending and didn't know what she was talking about. Everything she said contradicted what maintenance was saying and my rights as a tenant. Now is a good time to tell you this complex has a clause in the lease where you must have renter's insurance and it also absolves them of any responsibility even if the problem was something they caused.

Loyalty means nothing, customer service is dead

This is where the problem lies. I have lived here for five years and I have never been late with my rent. I have never caused any problems or tore up anything in my apartment. In fact, I rarely go into the rental office prefering to drop my rent in a box or pay online. This management company - the third or fourth one in five years - doesn't have either option available.

This is one of the blowers. You can see next to the camera flash
how wet the carpet was
The crew set up dehumidifiers and blowers to dry out the carpet, floors, and any other area affected by the water and pull any moisture from the walls, etc. Those machines were operating from August 4th to about August 8th when I finally turned them off. 
The carpet guy said the blowers & dehumidifiers would not affect my bill. Really? Notice the usage from the 4th to the 7th. See how it dropped on the 8th?!

This blower is pointing into the laundry room. That's a bag of clothes that were in the laundry and got soaking wet.
This is my bedroom. That's a dehumidifier and behind it is another blower. You can see the dehumidifier better below. Yes,
that is a grill in my bedroom because there was nowhere else to put it when they moved stuff around to cut the carpet.

You can just see the edge of my boxsprings propped up against the wall.
Amber, my oldest daughter who is the other adult on the lease, also tried speaking with Jasmine, but without success or results. We were informed that she would no longer speak wiith my friend because he isn't on the lease. Amber said, and agreed, that Jasmine is rude and ineffective. After making her aware of my health issues multiple times, she still seems to exhibit a lack of understanding and knowledge about how the release of any mold, mildew or spores of any kind into the air could be harmful to individuals with compromised immune systems.


I also spoke to the Jonesboro Housing Authority because this property is under Affordable Housing and Section 8. She stated that in an emergency situation like mine they require the property management to call in a mold and mildew expert for an emergency inspection and have everything cleaned, replaced and repaired within 24 hours.

Property management's solution

I was told I have two options: 1) move all of my belongings (yes, furniture and everything) into a truck for them to do the repairs, put new padding under the carpeting and clean the carpet, 2) move. Jasmine stated I could get out of the lease without penalty.

We were told this when we stopped by the office to give Jasmine a memo about what needed to be done, etc., which is what it states in the lease that we have the right to do. She refused to take the memo and about a week later I guess she discovered her error and said she could take it and add it to our file. 

As you may have figured out it is a ludicrious idea to pay for a truck and move all of my things into a it add to that the fact that I'd have to pay someone to do the moving or enlist some people. I have been directed by my doctor to not lift anything over 20 pounds. This isn't a good idea for individuals with chronic pain plus as a multiple myeloma patient the density and integrity of my bones has been compromised and I can more easily break a bone.

The here and now

As of today, the 20th I have had a sinus infection due to the dank carpeting, exposed sheet rock and constant humidity (they retrieved the machines about a day after I turned them off) and my chronic bronchotis has been aggravated. I took some antibiotics for the infection and it returned less than two days after I took the medication. I'm now taking a sinus medicine I'm not supposed (due to issues with my liver) to get any infections at bay. 

My mattress and boxsprings have water damage since I had my California king on the floor instead of a frame because of the size of the bedroom, the carpeting it cut and raised where they pulled the padding out and the majority of my belongings are in boxes and the furniture is all displaced. Amber and I have been looking for a house to rent since Friday the 7th. We have considered 22 houses and looked at about 13 of those. I finally found one and have been waiting three days for word on our application.

Anna, my youngest, also began to have sinus pain and pressure and needs medication. Then when I quieried my middle daughter I discovered she has also been having problems.

Needless to say, things have been less than ideal for being creative.

What would you do in this situation?