Don Cook stands under a section of ceiling hand-painted by his daughter in his stripped out entertainment room on the north side of his Second Street home in Portland. About 15 inches of water flooded the room on Feb. 28 and Cook plans to rebuild the space in the coming months. (The Commercial Review/Steve Garbacz)<br />
Don Cook stands under a section of ceiling hand-painted by his daughter in his stripped out entertainment room on the north side of his Second Street home in Portland. About 15 inches of water flooded the room on Feb. 28 and Cook plans to rebuild the space in the coming months. (The Commercial Review/Steve Garbacz)
The hand-painted pine branches on the ceiling are about all that’s left in Don Cook’s ground-level entertainment room.
“We got the pictures off the wall and a big screen TV and that was pretty much it,” said Cook Tuesday, standing in the room that is now stripped down to the studs.
The repairs and renovation could last through the summer and run about $15,000.
As the Salamonie River spilled out of its banks around 1 p.m. on Feb. 28, floodwater rose into the finished room on the north side of the Cook’s Second Street home in Portland. While the rest of the house is built up on a block foundation, this room, which was added on, was built on the ground level.
Unfortunately that ground level was under about 15 inches of water that afternoon.
“This is a new part added on in (19)74,” he said. “Why they didn’t build this up I have no idea.”
“We couldn’t get sandbags quick enough because we had to go all the way to Votaw and over and back in order to get sandbags,” he said. “It took us so long and it was coming so quick.”
The room was once finished in a rustic style reminiscent of Gatlinburg, Tenn., where Cook frequently vacations.
“My daughter, she free-handed those drawings on the ceiling and we had rustic paneling on the wall,” he said. “We go to Tennessee a lot. We try to go there just to get away and … in here we tried to make it look like Gatlinburg but cheaper. It was kind of a rustic like comfortable home.”
The Cooks hosted Bible study in the room and it also had a place for his wife, Janice, to do crafts, aside from being a place to relax.
Now, the room is stripped to its frame. An iHeater and dehumidifier are working continuously to pull moisture out of the wood. Only a refrigerator, a new water softener and some tables with various tools on them sit in the room now.
The two patches of ceiling containing the paintings are the only original pieces of the room still there.
Cook estimated that he lost around $10,000 of furniture and appliances in the flood, including a double recliner, large couch, entertainment center, bookcases, surround sound system, washer/dryer combo and freezer among other items.
With the carpet torn out and the walls removed, work to renovate the space is ready to begin.
The first project to tackle will be rewiring the entire room with modern, plastic coated wire.
“We have to do redo the electrical because the electrical was from 1974 and it’s code but it’s the type of wiring that when it gets wet … this comes unraveled when it gets wet and they say if that comes unraveled if you keep using it, it will heat up.”
And, although another flood of this magnitude is unlikely to happen again anytime soon, Cook is going to take some precautions just in case.
“All the electrical receptacles, we’re not going to put them down,” he said. “We’re going to move them all up 20 inches (off the floor).”
At some point, the underground heating vents will need to be cleaned to prevent contagions like mold from growing.
“The heat ducts … you can’t replace this, this is under 14 inches of cement,” he said.
Where the room used to be divided between the entertainment room and then a utility room, Cook said they are planning to leave the space open.
“We’re just going to leave all this open and have one big room,” he said.
Instead of carpet the floors will be covered in linoleum instead of carpet and instead of the rustic paneling, Cook said he plans to hang drywall throughout.
Cook said a contractor’s estimate placed the total room renovation at about $15,000.
Combined with the $10,000 of lost furniture and appliances and about another $10,000 in foundation damage under his home, total damages from the flood are around $35,000.
The work is expected to last into the summer months as Cook will be forgoing a contractor and trying to do as much of the work as he can himself.
“I’ll probably be working on it all summer,” he said. “I could get a contractor in here and they could probably do it quick … but my boys and I are going to do a lot of work, save some money.
“The more I can save on the structure, I can pay for the furniture,” he said.
Cook hasn’t had to tackle the flood damage and needed renovation on his own.
Cook, who owns Lock Busters, said after the flood a man who once had Cook unlock his car stopped to help pull stuff out of the waterlogged room.
“A guy came down and called me Mr. Lock Buster,” Cook said. “He didn’t even know my name.”
The Cooks have also received help from members of their church, Trinity United Methodist. Church members have helped clean up the room as well as provided meals as well as taken a collection to help flood victims.
Cook said the money that he received from the church will be put to use to purchase new furniture for the room once the renovation is complete.
“We’ve had so many people to help us do this, put this back together,” he said. “People just keep helping.”