Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reflections on an Earthquake, Part Six

The owners of our home in Iquique asked us to have a contractor evaluate the damages and provide an estimate of the cost of repairs, in order to submit a claim to the company which insures the property. Thankfully, our aforementioned risk-assessment engineer neighbor had offered to send over the guy who came to inspect their house so that we could work on this together.

I understood better when the contractor arrived today and pointed out that a shared wall between our (duplex) properties would likely need to be knocked down and rebuilt. Our neighbor wants to do so with rebar and concrete rather than the concrete blocks which have proven less than trustworthy. Could be a bit humorous when the time comes and we briefly share our living spaces!

As I took the contractor around the home and showed him various trouble spots, it was interesting to learn that the house has leaned back at least half an inch and that the problems we initially noted have grown a bit worse. When the house was first built, the owners included an addition to the kitchen and living room. Literally, the connections between the additions and the original structure have separated. The contractor recommended using packing or duct tape to triple seal the fissures until the insurance company comes in person to take a look. That should make for a unique new decor. (Maybe we'll start a trend!)

I have been reminded in recent days that our six-year old son, Ian, has learned a new vocabulary word since the earthquake. It is the word "damaged." I should mention that he seems to be the most affected by recent events, not overpoweringly so but enough that he is the one who needs reassurance when aftershocks come or who often inquires, "What if there is another earthquake tonight?" He also refuses to sleep with his head near the wall in their bedroom which has a long diagonal crack (that matches the one on the outside of the house, unfortunately.)

Ian's way of expressing himself verbally is a little unique, and often we have to interpret what exactly he is trying to say with the words he uses. Perhaps that is why hearing him repeat the seemingly grown-up and previously unknown-to-him word "damaged" always catches my ear and makes me smile. Recently we were delivering a five-year old friend to his home after a play date. From the back seat I heard Ian ask his friend, "Did your house was damaged?" Other times he will see houses as we drive through town and he will ask, "That house was damaged?" I can only imagine what he will have to say when all the fixing up begins!

This evening we had the two little boys soaking in the bathtub (a luxury after a five-day stretch without gas due to an earthquake-induced leak in the neighborhood that ended earlier this week!) Suddenly we began to hear curious sounds coming from their direction. I tried to quietly investigate with my video camera and capture some footage of how Ian and Alec apparently remember the night of the earthquake. Oh, how they made us all laugh - and they were practically pitch perfect, too. :)

Related posts:
Reflections on an Earthquake, Part Five
Reflections on an Earthquake, Part Four
Reflections on an Earthquake, Part Three
Reflections on an Earthquake, Part Two
Reflections on an Earthquake, Part One

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