For the most part Mike and Cathie Richardson’s ordeal has come to an end. In late August of last year their typically normal life got sidetracked by Hurricane Irene as the devastating storm put a rather huge tree right smack dab in the middle of the living room of their lovely log home in Chester. The Village News caught up with Mrs. Richardson as the couple was finally beginning to settle back into life as they once knew it and back into their own home.
The Village News (07 SEP 2011) chronicled Irene’s damage, which displaced the Richardson couple for months. While they felt enough of the structure was left to remain, while repairs got done, the county and power company felt differently.“We started living in a hotel,” began Mrs. Richardson. “After a little while we moved into a Residence Inn and then later we rented a furnished house.”
While nothing much could be done about the wrath of nature, there was a certain expectation of the contractor’s ability to get done what they said they could do by the time they said they could have it completed. “Our biggest disappointment was the main contractor”, admitted Richardson. “They had to manufacture the cedar logs which had to come from the West Coast of the U.S. and that took about two months. Being that it is a log house, it is a unique construction situation.” The contractor took so long getting things done the Richardsons decided to subcontract the flooring out to someone else. “Had we not done that we would still be in the rental house today,” added Richardson.
“Another problem we had was the people we contracted to move and store our furniture and other things took about three days,” added Richardson. “Our dining room furniture ended up getting damaged and we had to send it all to a company in Richmond to have it restored.” Adding insult to injury was when Mrs. Richardson went to check on the items that did go into storage, she discovered the company had put everything in the same storage bin. “I specifically told them about my snow globe collection as well as other items that needed to be stored in a climate controlled area”, said Richardson.
With the exception of the furniture restoration company, rug cleaners and flooring company, it seemed that the Richardsons were destined to suffer delays and disappoints throughout the process. When asked what it was like to finally be out of it all Mrs. Richardson replied, “It seems like I’ve been in a coma the whole time.”
Of course as we get tested through disasters and depending on private contractors to get things done, we tend to learn what we should have done and Mrs. Richardson is no different. “Read all the fine print in the contract”, said Richardson. “I didn’t realize that the insurance adjusters estimate was going to be different from what the construction company was proposing. They get you in a vulnerable situation and you just sign it and say get it done.” It makes you wonder how much worse it could have been if Mrs. Richardson didn’t follow up.
Another lesson learned deals with a change in landscape since before the hurricane ripped down that tree. Before Irene the Richardsons enjoyed having a lot of trees on their land. “We took down 7 huge oak trees around the house “, replied Richardson.
Thanks to some friends and neighbors they are almost halfway through the 182 boxes returned from storage. The good news is they are working on them under their own roof.