The whirring of giant fans and the drone of robot-like dehumidifiers continues at our office today. I will be over there at 9am to let in the crews from ABSOLUT Restoration and J&M Restoration, Inc. so they can continue their work. One team comes daily, spending almost two hours repositioning fans, emptying tubs of collected water from the dehumidifiers, taking humidity readings at various points around the suite. The other team, the “pack-out” specialists, started their work yesterday. When I pulled up to the building shortly after 5pm to lock up, it looked like we were moving. Two big trucks. Dozens of boxes. A knowledgeable, efficient staff in bright blue T-shirts.
Everything in my office was shrink-wrapped, tagged, ready to go on the trucks. Framed photos of my sons, all my binders filled with company history, all the knick-knacks and comfort items I keep near me at work — even a box of Kleenex — have been neatly catalogued and packed away. For the next several weeks, kind strangers will pick up each item, assess its status (water damaged or not?), dry out what can be saved and keep careful records for the insurance company about what cannot. Today the crew will finish the pack-out in my room and move on to the items in four other offices that must be completely removed. Then we’ll start scheduling repairs to the ceiling, walls and floors.
My brain is racing with details. The insurance company needs a copy of our lease. Don’t dial “1” for long distance on the new phone system. Always go to “server files” to gain access to company records our IT specialist has transferred to one of the PCs we brought to my house from the office. Will we be able to process credit card charges from my home? Call the bank. How will we distribute mail to staff members? How will this all work?
Everyone keeps telling me how well I’m “handling it.” Emails I’ve gotten from friends, family members and business colleagues repeat the word “devastating.” Other words — disruption, displacement, evacuation, triage — have crept into my daily vocabulary.
I have tremendous support, of course, from staff members as obsessed with detail as I am. (We often joke about the fact that I only hire people as compulsive as I am.) Operations Director Debbie Davis and Production Manager Tina Gerami were with me at my house most of yesterday and we spent half the time finishing each others’ sentences. “Where did I put…” Debbie would begin. “It’s in that folder in the wire basket,” I’d finish. Tina had all her important files in a large green canvas bag. She sat down at the computer to my left and efficiently processed bills, never flinching when the printer jammed just minutes before she had to race home to pick up kids.
Calendar & Directories Editor Mala Blomquist appeared on Arizona Midday as usual, sharing her picks for family events this weekend. She had the presence of mind to call me earlier in the day to ask for one of Dan Friedman’s photos of our flood. Destry Jetton, the Arizona Midday host, showed the photo during the segment and talked to Mala on air about how we were handling our emergency.
We are calling each other, emailing each other, texting each other. Even Marketing Director MaryAnn Ortiz-Lieb, who is in Chicago for a family member’s bar mitzvah, called in several times yesterday: “Do we have room for another half page [ad]?” The show must go on, and we have a deadline on Wednesday.
As Mala told me yesterday, “the worst thing is that I miss seeing everyone!”
I am looking forward to slowing down a bit this weekend and trying to catch up on the deep sleep I so desperately need but can’t quite embrace. My mind won’t shut down. Last night, I fell into bed at 8pm, only to jolt wide awake at 2 with a sense of panic. I forgot to set up the voicemail!
The scope of our emergency pales, of course, in comparison to the epic disasters we’ve all witnessed in the news this year. Yet it gives me a small glimpse into the challenges of finding a path through daily life when you’ve lost the reassuring anchor of a familiar environment and routine. As I grasp the enormity of what has happened to us, I am more keenly aware than ever that the only safety net we ever really have is each other.