Mert and his wife, Sheila, planned to visit her Indonesian family the end of July. In June, Sheila’s mother succumbed to cancer. Between re-scheduling their flight, getting a Covid test and visa, they could not leave until left after the funeral.
They both tested negative for Covid (Of course! Both had been vaccinated), so they could fly internationally. Indonesia welcomed them with another Covid test before allowing them to go a hotel that caters to incoming passengers who must undergo a mandatory quarantine. International passengers to Indonesia are tested, quarantined and tested again before they can leave the hotel – if they are negative. Mert’s Facebook postings during quarantine showed trays of perfectly arranged meals of Indonesian and American food.
Finally, their quarantine ended and the couple went to mourn and remember with relatives. They also did a bit of sightseeing, according to the Facebook postings.
Only reports of Detroit areas “storm of the century” flooding their basement tarnished their visit to Indonesia. A friend back home sent them pictures of the water at the foot of the stairs to the basement.
“I won’t know how bad it is until I get home,” Mert wrote.
It was all fun and games until the lab tech came for another mandatory Covid test before they flew home. Mert passed (of course, he was fully vaccinated.) Sheila did not. (How was that possible? She had at least one vaccination!) Other family members tested positive, too.
“Jakarta is a prime place for Covid to breed,” Mert said. “It is crowded. People sit or stand around the front of every building.” Quarantine descended on Sheila and her family. Mert was allowed to go to the airport and back home to check on the damage to their home.
Back home, Mert looked down the steps at sopping wet cardboard boxes, books and papers, water-marked appliances. Their washer, dryer, dehumidifier, furnace and hot water heater were ruined. “Inside the house it is about 75 percent humid.The wooden frame absorbed water from the humid basement,” he said.
Concerned friends came to haul the wet, ruined items to the curb. The city agreed to accept the same heaps of trash that his neighbors had left weeks earlier. Hauling trash after a long international flight was tiring. Initially, Mert attributed his nagging cough to tiredness until it worsened. He went to the clinic. He had both the rapid and PCR tests for Covid. He tested positive.
Contract tracers needed every flight he took and person he had encountered. Helpful friends received notification that he had tested positive for Covid.
Meanwhile in Jakarta, Sheila used her phone to watch the flow of household activities in the states thanks to the security system they had installed. “So many people coming and going,” she said.
“And thank you, Lord, they came. I did not have to clean out that basement all by myself.” he said. A friend of a friend brought over a commercial dehumidifier and an air mover to put in the basement. Within days he reported, “I can see dry spots on the floor.”
Folks hauled out trash and delivered food. They checked on Mert regularly. Despite having a cough and some congestion, Mert never slowed down. He called the insurance company, made an appointment to have the furnace checked and assessed the need for new washer and dryer.
The insurance company knew that the storm of the century had flooded homes in the area. “This surpasses your deductible. We will send you a check.”
His employers told him to stay home and collect Covid sick pay. More time to work in the basement while waiting for his wife get home and go shopping for new appliances. Not the summer they planned, but it was the summer they had. “Change of plans,” is the ringing anthem of people around the globe since the outbreak of Covid; still the world turns.