Byron Hackett is the Managing Editor of the Red Deer Advocate.

Hackett: The basement saga, part 2– finding the helpers

You really never know who you’ve got in your corner until something unexpected happens

In the wake of some personal misfortune, last week I wrote about finding positivity in the negative, about trying to see the bright light through the clouds of your circumstances.

I’ve needed to channel much more of that energy than I could have imagined this week, dealing with more and more ongoing basement flood issues, that still haven’t been resolved and don’t look to be coming to a conclusion anytime soon. Can confirm, a lot of swear words have been uttered over the past week.

(Water is still flooding into the basement as of Thursday and I don’t have an answer to why or how quite yet, but our insurance company believes the water is coming through the foundation and is therefore not part of our coverage. If you don’t know the exact details in your insurance policy, please have a look.)

While all that can take even the most positive of people out, what has truly and unexpectedly lifted me up has been the power of others.

I can’t imagine facing what my fiance and I have faced this week, alone.

And considering I have lived in four different provinces over the last decade, including about 10 different apartments or basement suites, I’ve lived for a long time under the assumption that you’re mostly on your own out there.

This week was a heartfelt reminder that in no way am I in this fight alone and the amount of support we have in our corner is unbelievable. And I’m writing on this not in the hopes of finding pity for my personal plight, only in the hopes that you all will realize that you have some amazing people in your corner but sometimes it takes a bad thing happening to truly figure that out.

When our insurance claim was denied and we were told if we don’t rip the drywall up immediately we would almost certainly face mold issues, there was panic.

Panic texts went out all over. But quickly people rallied. We had a 14-gallon shop vacuum and an industrial fan going within an hour. We had two more fans, industrial-strength as well and a second dehumidifier arrive from friends and family members by the end of Sunday.

We had two separate friends stop by with emotional support bottles of wine, a small gesture but one that shows you there’s people around that care. You need that as much as you need a second set of hands.

On Tuesday, a friend from Calgary drove all the way up to Red Deer, with his parents in tow, who were on their last day visiting from Newfoundland, to help us (really my fiancée) rip up drywall in our basement. The project went from what looked to be a one-person job, to five people putting in nearly a full day’s work to help out.

Now we had a basement full of stuff with nowhere to go, that was at the risk of being ruined with more water coming in day after day, being cleaned up before returning again.

Saved again, when a family friend arrives on Wednesday with a trailer and helps load it with his son when he had absolutely no reason to.

My future brother-in-law has spent about as much time in my basement this past week as I have and no, he didn’t live down there before the flood. My future in-laws spent nearly the whole week looking after our two dogs (including a nine-week-old puppy) and cooking us dinner.

It was at this point I nearly broke down, thinking about all the people who had gone out of their way to help us. I felt guilty– I felt like I was continually taking from others and not giving anything in return. I felt unworthy of all the help. How can you possibly repay all those people for stepping up without even being asked, delivering in your time of need?

I felt like I was drowning this week. Trying to focus on life and work while also trying to navigate through insurance claims, sump pump installation requests and constantly cleaning up water in any free moments is a difficult task.

I’ve written it in this space before and got called a socialist and other words that are unfit to print here, but you really need to find the helpers.

It’s a simple concept, but marvelous in practice. Seeing the number of people who come to your side when they can tell you need it is one of the most unique feelings in this world. It touches you in a way that you don’t really feel like you deserve because nobody should be that lucky to have people come out of the woodwork to lend a hand at the drop of the hat.

I think the only way you can really pay people back in moments like this is to try and pay it forward if the opportunity ever arises. You’d be silly to think there won’t ever be a chance to repay the favour, but it should never be about that. You should step up to help your neighbour or friends because you’d hope they would do the same for you.

If you go through life thinking nobody will ever help you or wants to help you or cares to help you, that’s a pretty miserable existence.

So, find the helpers, shake their hands and buy them a coffee or a cold beverage, because they’ve probably just come from giving someone a hand and didn’t have time for a break. Because that’s what helpers do.

Stay tuned for part 3, when I try (and hopefully not fail) to install a sump pump with zero plumbing knowledge.

Byron Hackett is the Managing Editor at the Red Deer Advocate