City Desk

WaPo All Wet On Florida Ave. Flood Coverage

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

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  • Hamil Harris

    We all make mistakes. I went back and looked at the video which is posted on WPNI. i wrote down water "rushed in," but if this is not correct I will write a correction. I didnt here from Joseph Currie today but I will place a correction when he calls. I have called him. Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

  • CapHill

    "We all make mistakes."

    Except for Cherkis. And Wemple. We all know they are perfect.

    The Post aspect of this posting took up what, two paragraphs? Yet that's the headline and the lede? Talk about irresponsible journalism.

  • Jason Cherkis

    We thought we were being overly dramatic. We thought it was funny. Sorry CapHill you failed to see the sarcasm in our coverage of the Great Florida Avenue Flood of '09.

  • Shaun
  • CapHill

    I guess I failed to see the sarcasm here because this posting resembles so many other, non-sarcastic postings on this blog. Wemple goes apeshit if the Post or any other publication (except, apparently, his own) misplaces a comma in a three-inch news brief.

    Silly me for not recognizing the sarcasm.

  • M. Cooper

    Take it easy CapHill... it was funny. And we all know and respect Hamil. I'm sure WAPO can handle it's own without you.

  • Mike DeBonis

    I still love ya, Hamil

  • the other neighbor

    That is sooo heartbreaking. Our house was spared, the water stopped right in front of our house. Mrs. Lecomte is the sweetest lady ever. Don't go back to France... who will I speak french with ?

  • Jamie

    This was sarcastic? I didn't get it either. It's hard to tell, when the sarcastic post exactly mimics the tone, style and over-dramatization of much of the so-called serious writing on this blog. Maybe next time you should use an emoticon or something, so we know which is which.

  • Mike Riggs

    @Jamie Didn't CapHill make that point, like, yesterday?

    Get over it.

  • V St. Flood Girl

    Hey, focus guys -- those of us who live on V & Florida Street don't give a flying foo foo about commas or journalistic rivalries - we just care that you are covering what was really a rather big deal for those of us who experienced the flooding. And yes, to us it will be the Great Flood of '09. Pictures and quotes cannot truly capture the events, they actually never really do.

  • Downtown rez

    At least Jamie and CapHill still read CP. I'm sure the advertisers appreciate their painful sacrifice!

  • Dave

    @Mike Riggs

    Way to try to sweep Cherkis' lame attempt at humor under the rug.

    Can the CP be a little more thin-skinned? Seriously...

  • Joseph Currie

    "Currie says he was a victim of a reporter’s bad shorthand."

    Mr. Cherkis is being completely facetious here , Mr. Hamil. I was not at all upset or peeved at being misquoted. I just felt the "all of the water rushed inside" quote was funny, because it seemed so dramatic and I didn't know where you were getting that from. I thought a City Paper reporter would get a kick out of it. I did not realize it would become the focal point of an article. At least they made fun of me a little, too(" In fact, he does not know what PTSD stands for.").
    Thanks for coming to interview me and keep up your fine work at the Post.
    Joseph Currie