Additional Living Expenses, dwelling reconstruction, moving, recovery from disaster, recovery from fire
A week from tonight we will be fast asleep in yet another temporary housing situation.The big difference in this next temporary housing situation is that this time we are on our own. Our fire insurance benefits are closing and we are, in a sense, set free.
When the fire came we did not know how much, or even what kinds of insurance we had. I could not even look since the house insurance papers burned when the house burned. All we had that first night night was our car insurance card. I dragged out the car insurance card expecting to be sent in 100 directions with 1000 phone trees. It took a while but no every person I spoke with stayed on the line to make sure that the hand-offs went smoothly and that I was OK.
One of the benefits we did not know about is called ALE or Additional Living Expenses. ALE helps you find “temporary housing” and help take care of expenses that arose because you were not able to live in your own “dwelling.” I think they are commonly part of homeowner’s insurance as most of our neighbors also had ALE. Honestly, the night of the fire I did not spend much time thinking about the cost of living for a year (or more) when we were no longer able to live in our house because it died in the fire. I was thinking about how much work it was going to be to deal with all of this and I was right, it was an overwhelming amount.
But that’s a story for another day. Back to the ALE. Soon after we contacted the insurance company we received a call from the ALE people. They assumed that we did not have a place to stay and told me they had “reached out” to hotels in our town and found rooms at two of them. I was flustered and said, “we already are in a hotel.” The lady sounded so relieved. She said it had been hard to find a hotel because of so many people being evacuated. That night they put our room on their credit card and we have not paid for any of our housing since. We have not even seen how the payments were made, just that they rent had been paid. Other ALE support is for temporary furniture. If your temporary housing is unfurnished, they will pay to rent the furniture, move it in and move it out for you when you return to your dwelling as they call it–we would call it our house.
So, this month is the end of our ALE. We are in the process of closing out the claim. In a way it seems like a developmental moment. The departure from temporary housing into your new dwelling and reconstructed life. That is a play on the insurance-ese for rebuilding your house, aka, “dwelling reconstruction.”
So here we are, one week from today, having processed our claim and closing out our ALE and we are on our own for the first time since June 28, 2012 when the house burned.
We are headed to yet another temporary housing situation, the third in 13 months. We spent a month in a Marriott Towne Place Suites where they were wonderful to all of the fire refugees. I think there were scores of families the first few nights. After a couple of weeks there were about 6 families living there. A year and a month later, one person is still there waiting for his home to be finished. It was a great temporary housing option for him. We came to the 6,000 st ft green shag house, the GSH. When we leave it will be one year and 10 days. The GSH is a unique place but was a good landing spot for us for this painful year. There certainly was enough room for two adults and a dog.
After a month in a hotel and a year and 10 days in the GSH, we are off to live in a vacation condo for several months while our new dwelling is constructed (e.g. not RE-constructed since we are starting new). We are actually excited about Temporary Housing Version #3. I like the idea that it is supposed to be temporary. I have struggled living in the GSH because it was like a long-term place you could get stuck and your life would be fine but it would soon not be your life but you would have forgotten what you life was supposed to look like so you might not recognize that it was missing sort of temporary accommodation. Honestly, after a year of living here I still don’t feel like it is where I live even though I have my clothes, my desk, and my cooking stuff.
I think that the next temporary place will be just fine. It has temporary stamped all over it. We even have to vacate by the holidays so that the owners can use their holiday house. It feels good that I *cannot* stay there. Tonight we got approval from the Homeowner’s Association that our plan was approved so we are one step closer to home.
After three temporary housing situations in 13 months I am going to believe that the next dwelling accommodation will be home. Tonight I ordered our personalized yard address plaque.