I've never been at a loss for words...until now that is. In fact...as hard as I am on myself...I pride myself on my writing abilities. Maybe I'm having a tough time...because in all my years of writing...I've never really had to write to ask anyone for help. Sadly...that's all changed. I've been contemplating this for days now...and it pains me to have to make this post...but it seems there is no other way around it.
While it might pale in comparison to some of the other stories...it's our story...and it's very important to us...and hopefully to some of you...or many of you. We've worked through health issues, family issues, career issues, financial issues, and countless other issues without any help...and usually without anyone even knowing they existed. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this.
After twenty-five years together...and twenty years here in our home...we decided it was time to move. It was bittersweet...as we love where we are. We just knew it was time for a change.
We sold our home in less than a day. We thought it would have taken months...or at least weeks. All of a sudden everything was happening absurdly quickly. It was exciting. It was also overwhelming. We found a house in Florida. We left our jobs in New York rather than accepting transfers so we could access our retirement savings to buy the new house...as there wasn't nearly enough equity in our home here to make the purchase. We were going to make it work. We were ready to go.
Our former neighbors here for twenty years became our best friends...and we were closer than most families. They moved several months ago. The only thing holding them back was moving away from us. They finally decided they had to go though. They also knew we'd soon be close behind.
We were a bit apprehensive. From being the first same sex married couple in Suffolk County...we're going to become unmarried in the State of Florida. While it might not seem like a big deal...there are countless protections and rights that we had here that we will no longer be entitled to. It's frightening...but we believe the world will change. We thought that was our only problem...albeit a rather large one. We were wrong.
The new neighbors decided to do a bit of construction...or actually a bizarre amount of illegal construction...with no permits, no engineering plans, and no regard for anyone or anything around them. We...foolishly in hindsight...gave them the benefit of the doubt...and thought it would all come together in the end. Sadly...that was not the case.
They changed the grading of their property drastically. They built a twelve foot mountain of dirt around their entire acre of property. Several hundred dump trucks were here over the past few months. While our property is lower than theirs...it was always a slight incline that gradually sloped between the houses. Now there is an almost perpendicular wall of dirt to the ground. There is no retaining wall. There is no drainage for water flow.
About a month ago...there was a light rain. The mud washed on to our driveway. We addressed the issue. We were assured once topsoil and mulch were put on the dirt...that would not be a problem. We made it quite clear we disagreed.
Several other neighbors complained to the town. We never did. They knocked out cable on and off for a month. They destroyed the wiring for every street light on the block. They damaged the road. They just kept forging ahead.
Two weeks ago...it rained. We were woken up by a call from our alarm company. They told us our water sensor had tripped the alarm. We went down to the basement to see muddy water flooding in. We ran into the garage to see it full of mud and mulch. We went outside to see the wall had been breached in five different places...directing gushing water directly to our house.
We went next door. The folks that wanted nothing more than to be our friends for the past four months now wanted nothing to do with us. Rather than trying to help...they called the police. They left us to fend for ourselves.
In addition to about eight inches of water in the basement...dozens and dozens of boxes we had packed for our move were destroyed. The personal belongings that didn't break were damaged by the mud and water. The items that withstood the water were wrapped in paper or clothing that was ruined...so they had to be unwrapped, cleaned, and rewrapped. Furniture and electronics were ruined as well. There were six inches of quicksand like mud across our driveway.
To make matters worse...the potential buyers stopped by unexpectedly in the midst of all this. We tried all we could to assure them this never happened before in the twenty years we were here...and it was all caused by the gross negligence of the neighbor's project. Even once they understood and believed that to be the truth...there was and is still the issue of a resolve. We have no idea where this puts the real estate transaction.
Our insurance company said to contact theirs. We don't know how to get in touch with their company. We sent a request...but are not too confident we'll hear back.
The next step is legal action. It's something we've never done and know little about. Of course...we've learned a great deal more in the past few weeks.
A small claims suit is the simplest way to go. Unfortunately...the maximum award is $5,000. We've spent much more than that just on water removal already. That doesn't begin to cover the damage to the house...or our personal belongings. Any other law suit would take a great deal of time to settle...which is virtually impossible since we're going to be in Florida...and will no longer own the house here for access.
We need to pay off the repair costs. We need to replace some of our damaged property. We need to do whatever necessary to insure the sale of our home.
We were just looking for an easier life. We tried to do everything right towards that goal. In an instant...everything changed. We don't know how to move ahead.
Thank you in advance for your help. We will always pay it forward. Maybe for all the years of doing for others...somehow folks will be able to do something for us. We're not members of social media. We still prefer the old fashioned means of communication. However...as we now see...in a situation like this...word spreads much faster with those other resources, so please feel free to share this request with anyone and everyone.
Maybe this disaster was the push we needed to start anew. If nothing else...it made it easier to leave the home we made and loved in New York. The only memories are the ones in our heads and hearts...rather than the ones that used to be right in front of us. And...if anyone is wondering why there's a photo of our dogs rather than us posting pictures and videos of the destruction...it's simply because they're a lot easier on the eyes.
Steve and Joe
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