City Paper is not for tourists
Yesterday’s massive water main break in Adams Morgan stressed out Monique Lecomte and Joseph Currie. They reside at 1748 V Street NW. Today, they are dealing with contractors assessing the damage to their basement dining room and kitchen. Industrial dehumidifiers are at full blast. A contractor rips at the bottom of the walls in the dining room. But perhaps nothing hurt Currie more than what the Washington Post did to him with its story on the great flood of ’09. There are some things more painful than wall mold.
Like being misquoted about the great flood of ’09. Currie says he was a victim of a reporter’s bad shorthand. The Post quoted Currie saying: “When I opened up the front door, all of the water rushed inside.”
That is not what happened, Currie insists today. The water did not rush inside. Hopefully, historians won’t make that mistake in their retelling of yesterday’s dramatic narrative.
Imagine waking up at some godawful hour by a fireman or cop thumping on your basement door telling you that your home is flooding? Imagine then having to spend serious time a) worrying about the water; b) worrying if that water was going to seep into your 1919 Chickering piano; c) attempting to clear the small drain outside your door because it was starting to clog; and d) worrying about why water was seeping through the walls. Now imagine spending your entire day dealing with the minor water damage, the insurance people and their contractors. And then waking up to seeing your name in lights attached to a misquote?
Currie says water did not rush into his home. It seeped. And it pooled around the drain outside his front door. But it did not “rush inside” when he opened the door for the firemen or police. Now he must deal with the damage.
“I can’t think of what we could have done,” Currie says. I would like to say he was talking about the Post. But that would be taking his quote out of context. He’s hurting enough.
Currie is actually talking about the physical problems the flood left in its wake.
In his dining room, the damage was minimal. Water corroded one wall or part of one wall—it had to be ripped up. The 1919 Chickering survived the great flood of ’09, but it did not survive contractors attempts to move it. The move caused the legs to come off. The piano had to be propped up by an old trunk. He has two other pianos.
The kitchen floor was streaked with mud. An industrial dehumidifier hummed away. Mold was the real stress. It had been detected already in the walls. The mold particularly disturbed his housemate Lecomte. Lecomte purchased the row house 30 years ago from money she made teaching French to Peace Corps volunteers. She grew up in The Left Bank and followed a German lover to Washington. The relationship didn’t take. But she stayed in the city and worked for various embassies before joining the Peace Corps. She now manages Curries career, occasionally getting him gigs in her native city and elsewhere.
The mold, and the prospect of more mold, bothered her. She also faces the prospect of losing her 15-year-old kitchen wallpaper. “What kind of bullshit is this,” Lecomte says standing in her dining room.
Currie says he does not have PTSD. In fact, he does not know what PTSD stands for.
It might be a misquote to say Lecomte is suffering from a little post-traumatic stress. But we are sure she said this: “I want to go to France. I want to go home.”
Photos by Darrow Montgomery