My Homeowners Association and County have been awful at clearing the neighborhood roads — especially my street — over the past couple of years. So, when the snowstorm was a certainty to hit the east coast the weekend before last, I packed provisions and took Ryan to my family’s cabin in West Virginia to ride it out. Being there meant we had unlimited access to clean water (there is a cistern well on property) and electrical power (via a gasoline powered generator).
This was only possible because we used Sue’s bonus from last year to buy Ryan a hospital bed to leave at the cabin. We had it delivered last summer and have spent considerable time there since. I love that Ryan gets to breathe the fresh mountain air, hear the sounds of woodland creatures, and sit by the lake with a fishing pole placed in his hands.
As for the storm, being there also meant we had unlimited access to clean water (there is a cistern well on property) and electrical power (via a gasoline powered generator).
Based on my experiences of growing up on the summit the Appalachians in Pennsylvania and now living in Virginia, I made the assumption that the folks in West Virginia are more capable of clearing the roads. Turns out, this proved true. With both locations getting just under 30-inches of snow, my Virginia house’s street remained unplowed for days, but the cabin road was always drivable.
With any snow/ice event, the most worrisome concern for the incapacitated is the inability to have access to emergency services and medications… followed closely by the loss of electricity or water.
Plain-and-simple, it’s frightening.
Still, I felt I had covered all contingencies and it was safer to take Ryan to the cabin. We arrived the day before the snowfall. I spent hours preparing. I unloaded the van, then backed it underneath the carport for protection. I bought 15 gallons of gasoline and fired up the generator (to give it a trial run). I checked the cistern well’s pump and water quality. I put chains on the tires and a plow on the front of a 4-wheel ATV. I checked the backup heat source.
By damn, I thought I had everything covered.
I was wrong.
Twenty-fours into the snowstorm, just as it was wrapping up and with the sun was low in the sky, I looked out the window to take in the beauty of the snow that had fallen on the floor of the woods. I love how the long shadows make the forest stand out in a dimension that I describe a virtual un-reality.
My eyes were drawn to the carport. I remembering thinking “something doesn’t seem quite right”. Just like you might see on a slapstick comedy, I rubbed my eyes with great exaggeration. I looked again and still didn’t trust my eyes.
Then I blinked, hard, several times (in slapstick style, I imagine) to convince myself that I was seeing in proper perspective; that the contrast of twilight wasn’t throwing it off.
Nope, thing were as they seemed to my unbelieving mind.
The carport, under the weight of the snow, collapsed… on (and into) Ryan’s van. I could see damage to the van’s entire side and roof. A passenger’s window was clearly missing, and even before I could get dressed to go out and remove the snow from the carport’s roof, two more windows had shattered.
I spent hours clearing the snow from the carport that night. I froze my gonads off and was soaked to the core doing so, but was successful in getting the weight off; thus preventing greater damage (to the van, not my gonads).
The following morning I secured the carport by holding (i.e., jerry-rigging) it up with a motorcycle jack and various other items… like a burning barrel, ladder, and a couple of tires (that were only there because I was too lazy this past autumn to make them into tree swings).
I suppose I don’t feel quite as bad about myself now.
By mid-day the van was at the collision repair garage. There was nothing left to do but file an insurance claim and wait to hear from the mechanic on just how badly it was damaged and how long it would be in the shop.
I’ll give a summation of each:
- Damage. The initial estimate is, at least, $10,000. It’s probably more, but that won’t be determined until repair work is underway. Presumably, insurance will cover it, except for a $100 deductible. The van is an asset of the Ryan Diviney Special Needs Trust Fund, and this fund must (technically) pay the deductible. It was setup — from the beginning when it was donated by Koon’s Tyson Toyota — to belong to Ryan. I suggested the fund has ownership to assure that if ever sold then his fund would get the cash. As for the $100 deductible the fund must pay, I’ll personally replenish it to make it whole again.
- Time. Six to eight weeks. Maybe longer. The parts are customized for disabled components and a dropped-floor. They just don’t exist (for the most part) on the aftermarket.
Ryan and I are still shut-in at the cabin. I guess I’d rather be nowhere else with him, given the circumstances. A friend of ours — who I seriously believe might be an angel — searched and found a disabled van that we can rent. The problem is, it’s so damned expensive! It’ll run either $300 for a weekend or $2,600 monthly. As much as I would like Ryan to be able to get out, the cost is too excessive.
The plan is to rent it this Friday in order to get him home. Then, come late-March to Early-April, when the van is repaired, our freedom to take him places will be available to him again.
It seems wanting things to be normal again is the subplot of the life we now live…
MRSA Update: Ryan ends his course of antibiotics tomorrow. We’ll (probably) know if they were effective several days henceforth.