The family and I have spent just over a week in our FEMA trailer for a trial run. I'm wiser for having done so, but to quote Ecclesiastes, he who increases wisdom increases sorrow. Sadly, this next year is going to be a difficult one. I wonder if ever again I'll be able to feel the "normalcy" that permeated life before the Federal levees failed.
Abry Brothers, the company we hired to raise our house and to straighten the walls, has spent the past several months working on our neighbor Mike Prados' house. When they are finished with Mike's house, they'll start on ours. So we've been gradually putting stuff in boxes for storage, and thought we'd start gutting the house in mid-February. The plan was that all four of us and the dogs would live in the trailer for the year, with the goal of moving back into our fixed house by Christmas 2007. We put shelves in the FEMA trailer, and many self-adhesive hooks on the walls. But last night I had an epiphany: there is no way that we can do this for a whole year. Kalypso was trying to do her homework, and Gilgamesh was bored so he was bouncing around. Plus when all four of us are in the trailer, there is no space to put things like clothes and dishes. Therese and I started thinking that Therese and the children should get an apartment. It was strange, sort of like we'll be separating but not because of a fight, but so Kalypso can do homework, Gilgamesh can take a bath and do six-year-old-stuff in a space larger than a trailer. Most of the time I would live in the FEMA trailer with the dogs to keep an eye on the property. But that would be awful to miss out on parts of my kids' lives because of all of this.
But now the plan has changed. I called Abry Brothers and asked Jeff, the supervisor, for an approximate date to start working. He said it might be two months before they were ready. He also reminded me that I shouldn't gut the house until they had put in support, as removing the plaster and lathe might weaken it and it could fall over. So now I'm thinking the best course would be to move our primary base back from the FEMA trailer to the house, and stay there as long as we can. Even when Abry Brothers starts working on the structure of our house and the foundation, it will take them several months to finish their work. All that time we can live in the upstairs of the house, which is about 1000 times the size of the FEMA trailer. Then, as they get close to finishing our house, that would be the time for Therese and the kids to move into an apartment, store our stuff there, and I would then occupy the trailer while we gutted the house and rebuilt it.
Of course this plan will likely be revised many times on a daily basis for the next several months.