So late last night I got a phone call from someone at FEMA, and he asked if my refrigerator was running, and when I said yes, he told me to go catch it.
Not really. But wouldn’t that have been great?
Actually, he said he was going to be in the area today, and could he come by the house and survey the damage? Why certainly, I replied. You bring your boots and I will supply the swamp! And so the date was set.
Lucky for me, it was pouring again today, and nothing puts that crazed gleam of desperation in my eyes like RAIN THAT WILL NOT END, EVER. When Mr. FEMA showed up with his associate, I licked them both all over and took them down to the basement.
Okay, so, in reality I immediately started babbling about how my insurance claim had been reopened, and maybe I didn’t actually need FEMA, not that there’s anything wrong with FEMA, but they probably have more important things to do, and I am probably going to get some money from the insurance company after all, which I didn’t know when I originally filed with FEMA. (I had tried to tell him this on the phone last night, but he’d insisted he may as well fill out his report either way.)
Mr. FEMA nodded and “hmm”ed and continued filling out his report and was a very pleasant and likeable man. So much so, in fact, that when I made a comment about him not really being what I’d expected of FEMA, he was quick to point out that he’s a contractor for them. Ha. Poor FEMA.
Anyway. Mr. FEMA and His Nameless Associate praised me for getting the basement emptied, doing my best to dry it (all of the fans and dehumidifiers are sitting around on bricks and other makeshift elevated surfaces), purchasing a new pump, etc. I couldn’t understand why they were so pleased with me. Turns out they’ve spent the week thus far visiting some of the harder-hit homes in a nearby town, where–according to them–many people haven’t done anything to start cleaning out the damage. Which… I don’t get. But okay. Yay me! I know enough to empty the moldy crap out of my house!
After surveying the basement for a bit, we headed back up to the kitchen. Mr. FEMA then asked me a series of questions about specific items which had been lost or damaged. When he asked me if there had been any televisions in the basement, I said no. Then I said, “Wait. I forgot about that giant plasma TV I had down there. Totally ruined! I can’t believe it!”
Mr. FEMA and HNA exchanged a look. “I’m joking,” I said, thinking that all the pleasantness was about to come to a screeching halt due to my chronic foot-in-mouth disease.
“Oh, I know,” said Mr. FEMA, “but we just had a woman yesterday who really tried to convince us of that. Claimed she’d just bought one for a gift and it had been down in the basement and got wrecked.”
“And she’d JUST thrown it in the dumpster the day before!” added HNA. They laughed.
“What… what did you tell her?” I was fascinated. People actually do that?
“I told her that I’d write it down, but if I were her, I would’ve taken a picture before I threw it away.” HNA snorted.
We finished up with the forms, and Mr. FEMA asked me for a signature.
“Okay,” I said, handing his pen back, “now what happens if my insurance comes through with the money? I mean, I don’t want to be taking money from FEMA if my insurance covers it.” The men exchanged another look. “I just want to get the expenses covered, you know? But I’m thinking it’s poor form to rip off the government, as a general rule.”
“Well…” Mr. FEMA was choosing his words carefully. “Theoretically, if you ended up getting money from both, you should return the FEMA money. But, um, things happen. And you pay a lot of a taxes here. Why don’t you just wait and see what you get?”
I can’t decide if he said that because he felt bad for me, with the water in the basement and the big dumpster out front, or because he knows in his heart of hearts that FEMA is never going to send me a dime. Time will tell.
In the meantime, today I searched roughly 37 different travel sites in a vain attempt to find affordable plane tickets for BlogHer. You know what? California is REALLY FAR AWAY. If someone was overcome with a powerful urge to give me some frequent flyer miles, that would be okay with me. Or maybe both my insurance and Federal Disaster claims will go through, and then I can buy a ticket and spend the entire conference telling people that I’m there because FEMA sent me.
*Once upon a time, someone who shall remain nameless (but who believes that all people should be completely smooth and plastic-y under their clothes like Barbie and Ken dolls) managed to take that snippet of Dr. Seuss song and turn it into something so inappropriate and porny and funny that I aspirated Diet Coke and still couldn’t stop laughing, even though I could no longer breathe. I was able to refrain from sharing this information with the FEMA guys, but now I’m telling YOU.