Well, I don’t really even know where to start. I tend to get very long winded, but I think for the sake of this post I am going to try and make this very matter of fact. On Friday, April 10th after several days of consistent, heavy rain the retaining wall in our backyard failed and essentially a landslide occurred.
Right before my 4 p.m. Zoom happy hour was about to begin I decided it would be a good idea to throw on some mascara, to make it (hopefully) appear as though I hadn’t just been sitting on my ass all day. As soon as I made it to the master bedroom at the back of the house I just so happened to look out the window and I watched the entire landslide with my own eyes… It was so surreal. We didn’t have much in our backyard, but the neighbors (whose wall was connected to ours and fell at the same time) had a bunch of stuff in theirs, including a large plastic storage shed. The entire shed crumbled into pieces and all of its contents went sliding with it. It was like one of those car crash moments where it’s shocking, but you don’t want to look away. All I could do was stare with my mouth wide open.
A couple of friends came over within 15 minutes to help pick up some of the fallen fence posts, the wood pallets and our Traeger (which is still A-okay ) before Stephan was able to get someone to cover him at work. When there was nothing more we could really do, Stephan went back to work, and I called our insurance company like every normal homeowner would do in this situation, right? Well, I’m just going to spare you the details and cut right to the chase on this one. DISCLAIMER: Homeowners insurance does not cover damage caused by “land movement” aka a landslide. Not even flood specific insurance will cover your home or property in the event that it, a garage, a fence, or a retaining wall in our case slides off a hill. According to our adjuster, and I’m paraphrasing here, if insurance companies covered every single claim for damages caused by natural occurring erosion or land movement no insurance company would be able to sustain business… cool.
The next hurdle was trying to get ahold of the local gas and electric company to find out if they could send someone out for an emergency call to cut down the branches of a large, dead tree that had grown around some of the low hanging wires. We were worried if the ground shifted anymore that the tree would pull the lines down and we’d be liable. SDG&E came out and said that the wires it was wrapped around actually belonged to AT&T, and that we would need to call them. He mentioned that based on past experiences with AT&T, even as a city employee, that it would most likely take weeks or months for AT&T to actually come out and trim the tree. Sure enough, I spent at least an hour trying to get ahold of their emergency department, but due to COVID-19 there was no staff available and I was hung up on. That pretty much was a sign that we needed to take things into our own hands and cut the tree ourselves.
p.s. Yes, he’s wearing a bike helmet because we forgot to grab a hardhat. It’s better than nothing!
The next day we were off to Home Depot to buy an extendable pole saw and some temporary fencing materials, so our backyard was still somewhat useable for the dogs. After Stephan meticulously trimmed each branch that had been wrapped around the lines, we climbed down to the lower area behind the wall to assess the damage. We realized that there is about 20 feet of relatively flat ground behind the wall before the hill slopes off to the neighbor below us, so that was a huge positive to know that there was no chance of our wall or the dirt rolling down the hill.
We noticed a cracked black pipe somewhat under the wall, but we didn’t know what it was for or where it was running. At the time we didn’t see any activity in the pipe so we assumed that it was an old pipe, or that it belonged to the city. Wait for it…
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I was going to try and keep it matter of fact. As you can tell, there is so much that has happened that I could not keep it simple without leaving out certain details, so I have decided to break this up into multiple posts. Stay tuned if you want to hear about how this unfortunate event just keeps getting better… and by better, I mean worse.