I was able today to get to my sister's house to survey the damage to my mountain of stuff in her basement. First off, I have to say this: I have a lot of stuff. I would even go so far as to say that I have too much stuff. I had an apartment full of stuff, and boxed it all up and moved it into this basement (minus furniture.) I was planning on getting rid of a lot of it, and actually said so last week to my sister in law (did I jinx myself? I think so) who lives in a teeny tiny apartment with my brother and very little storage.
I was hoping that the flood water would not be sewage-y, so that I could dry stuff out and keep it (especially books) but unfortunately, it was very pee-smelly, so we decided that the best course of action would be to assume it was sewage and clean everything accordingly. I did a LOT of mopping with bleachy mop water. Bleach was the order of the day.
Here's what I was able to salvage: camping gear, clothes, most of my dishes, pots and pans. My childhood dolls and stuffed animals were safe, and that's good because I am a sap and I need these sentimental items. I was able to save only about 1/4 of my books, because as I predicted, these were the boxes that were on the floor of the basement.
What I had to throw away: Most of my books, a lot of old clothes that I was going to donate anyway, some dishes. This doesn't sound like a lot but I had at least 4 good sized boxes of books so it was a LOT of work to get them out of the house, since the books on lower 2/3 of the boxes were completely waterlogged, and that made them heavy as hell.
I had to throw away a couple of Brian Froud books, and that made me cry. Good Fairies/Bad Fairies and Goblins were waterlogged and destroyed. That was not a good discovery. Even though my ex gave them to me, I still loved these books because the illustrations are so pretty.
All in all, I feel lucky that most of my stuff was unharmed. My sister and her husband had to throw away a ton of stuff too, including a super cute 1970s couch with yellow and green flowers.
I think I've learned a lesson here, guys, which is that basements cannot be trusted, and that if you're storing stuff in one you need to assume that it will flood, and keep everything on shelves off the floor, or at least in plastic containers that are watertight. Because who knows? It's better than taking chances. That is my advice to all of you.