"The water on the floor kept rising and rising"

January 28, 2011

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I woke up from the sound of trickling water. At first I thought one of my cats was using the litter box, but when the trickling kept going and going and going, I became curious and concerned. This litter box visit was taking way too long.

I got out of bed and went to check the bathroom where we kept the litter box. Not only was the tray completely clean, there was not a cat in sight. I did, however, notice water droplets trickling from the ceiling, splashing in the litter box and on the floor. While contemplating whether to get a pot or a bucket, the trickle of water turned into a mild stream.

Suspecting a leak in the apartment above us, I went to wake up my son. By the time he had roused himself from sleep and grumbling put some clothes on, water was now gushing from the ceiling and walls. Neither of us knew what to do, we just stood there, watching, wondering where this water was coming from.

Trying to limit the damage to the parquet floors, we both got a bucket and a couple of towels and started mopping up the mess. But our efforts were laughable, no matter how many times we put down the towels and wrung them out in the bucket; the amount of water coming down was far greater than the amount we managed to mop up.

"This isn't working," I said to my son. "We need to call the super." The superintendent was not impressed to get a call from me at 2:00 in the morning. "Can't this wait?" he demanded, more than a little irritated. "No, it can't," I said. "We're standing ankle deep in water." I wasn't lying.

As the water kept pouring off the ceiling and walls, the water on the floor kept rising and rising. I had put the cats on top of a high cabinet, so they were safe, but lots of other things were not. We had tried to get as much as possible of the small stuff off the floor and onto higher ground, but rugs, shoes and other small items still floated around my bedroom like boats looking for a harbor. At some point I saw a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of body wash pass me by.

When the superintendent arrived and saw the damage he was quick to phone his assistant, whom he instructed to bring the 'water suckers'. When the man arrived, suitably accompanied by two huge machines, they promptly set to work. The superintendent and his assistant vacuumed up all the water, until the parquet floor was more or less dry. But even though we were happy to be on dry 'land' again, the damage was considerable. Not only was the parquet floor ruined, decorative rugs were only fit to be thrown away, along with countless other items. Who was going to pay for this?

Severe frost had caused one of the pipes to burst, so technically the building management was to blame for not providing sufficient insulation, but management rejected our claim, stating that this was Mother Nature's doing. I threatened to sue for damages, but never did. The lawyer I consulted demanded a retainer of $1,000 and informed me that this could be a lengthy and expensive procedure. "You're better off paying for the damages yourself," he said. "It will be cheaper than going to court."

At a time like that I wish I had had renters insurance, but I never thought I would need such coverage. I felt safe and didn't think anything could happen to us. Why does something always have to happen first, before common sense prevails? I have renters insurance now. It's a little late, but better late than never.

- Conny from Ontario

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This information is provided for your convenience; it is not intended as insurance advice. The views, opinions, and advice expressed in this article are solely those of the author and not those of Homesite Group Incorporated. Please consult your insurance carrier or agent for information regarding your policy or coverages.

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