Last week, Colorado was ravaged by flash floods that affected many people’s homes and businesses. I was personally affected, the first night of the heavy rains, and consequently, had to leave my home permanently due to water damage and mounting mold.
I was lucky, because I live really lightly. I had only what I really love and/or need in my basement apartment. My furniture was mostly blow-up or fold-up. I’ve made a point of living that way for the past ten years. This was not always the case. I used to be bogged down with storage spaces, closets and garage spaces full of stuff. I spent a long time getting rid of it, and there’s really no going back for me.
Fortunately, I started packing when water was gushing uncontrollably in through my basement window. Not everyone was so lucky. Some had to be evacuated from their homes, and leave everything behind. I had to move out, and it sucks, but it’s not such a big deal, because I didn’t have all that much to move.
Now, several days later, people who were directly affected are still dealing with damp, soggy, molding stuff. Saying goodbye is sometimes a matter of choosing health over stuff. Mold is insidious and can affect your brain and lungs.
There are generally two options when dealing with moldy stuff: clean it and keep it or let it go. If you opt for keeping it, non-pourous items, like those made of glass, metal, porcelain and plastic, might be easily wiped down with some water and baking soda (check for corrosivity with metals). Clothing may need a good soaking in vinegar, before being washed and dried regularly.
If it still smells after it’s dried, it probably needs to be tossed. If something has been molding for more than 48 hours, chances are that it is not salvageable, especially carpet, drywall, wood, etc. Even damp spaces that don’t seem like they’d be an issue may need to be treated with baking soda and dried out. Mold spores are airborn, so this stuff does not just stay isolated, unfortunately. Nip it before it becomes a major health hazard. And use respiratory equipment, just to be on the safe side. Hydrogen peroxide and borox are two more natural options for mitigating mold, btw. I don’t know the specifics, but it might be worth looking up.
If you had to leave everything behind (or even ditch most of it now), know that there will be more stuff coming your way. I encourage you to trust that the universe has your back. Consider this a fresh start. Yes, it’s natural to feel sad, angry, overwhelmed, all of the above. This could also be a blessing in disguise. I know it probably doesn’t feel like that right now, but someday you might look back and go, “you know I really didn’t need or love all of that stuff, anyway.” I encourage you to live lightly, from now on. Letting go, really surrendering and trusting in the universe to provide can be incredibly liberating.
If you need to replace your stuff, there are so many thrift stores nearby. If you’re belong to clubs and organizations, it might be helpful to make some requests. Surf craigslist, check out freecycle, seek out garage sales, ask your friends. Use this as a means of building and relying upon community. I’ve furnished entire apartments this way. This can be a fun process, if you allow it to be.
In dealing with stuff that was not affected, consider that there are people who are now going to need your extra stuff. Could this be a perfect opportunity to go through those piles and boxes of items that have been hanging out, unused and unloved? If so, gather some boxes, bags and packing materials, and go to town! Donate it directly to those affected and/or to the local thrift stores. You’ll raise your vibes by ditching dead weight, feel powerful for helping your community and create good karma.
If you need help, I teach classes and do personalized consultations. I wish you luck, whether you were affected directly or indirectly by the flood.