Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The rains came down, and the floods came up…

…and the house, and the sand, washed away. Yep, true story, it actually does happen, in real life.
Who would’ve thought that living on a mountain would put you in danger of flooding- from sudden and unexpected tidal waves of pouring rain? I know that I sure didn’t think so. Logically-my logic at least-the rain would run along and flow happily by, and down the mountain; just like that OTHER primary song “give said the little stream, as it HurrIED, DOWN the HiLL”.
Apparently, in real life, if you aren’t at the very tip top of the mountain-and especially if you have uphill facing window wells-you are still in the at risk category of possible flooding-due to sudden and unexpected tidal waves of pouring rain.
The story goes like this:
The unusually rainy weather we’ve been having has oversaturated the ground with water; naturally.
Saturday afternoon we had a very sudden down pour of rain. It was CRAZY rain! Out of nowhere! I don’t know about the valley, but at least up here on the mountain we got it good.
Not being at the TOP of the mountain proved to be a disadvantage, and apparently all the water that fell on our uphill neighbors had to HURRY DOWN the HILL-taking with it everything in its path.
Of course, it didn’t just TAKE everything, some things it did leave. Like the sudden and unexpected-but yet temporary- aquariums in our uphill facing basement windows. That was a pleasant surprise. And, unlike those fancy store-bought aquariums that everyone wants in their offices, these ones were undesirable, far from water tight, and definitely not filled with pretty fishes. Our new-and temporary-aquariums were filled with mud and bugs. We then experienced further enjoyment as the water seeped through the very non-energy-efficient windows, down the walls, and across the carpet.
Fortunately, we are no strangers to flooded basements. So, although it was very unpleasant, irritating, and discouraging, the actual flooding was definitely not a new experience. The new experience, however, was that of OCEANs pouring down the mountain. Previous flooding has always been related to other various, and unnecessary, situation: like not having rain gutters, overwatering plants against the house, busted water heaters, broken hoses on the washing machine, cracked drain pipe from the dishwasher, eroded tile in the upstairs shower, broken toilet seals in the upstairs toilet, etc, and so on. Yes, this was a new one to add to the list of “how to flood your house” (maybe I’ll write a book: “house flooding for dummies).
It’s been a while since we’ve had a good flood, so it was sadly discouraging; something, also, to add to the list of “why NOT to buy THIS house”.
So, it rained really hard, there was a lot of water, and a raging river developed. It came down the mountain, through the neighbor’s garage, and straight down our drive way. I guess it’s pretty silly to have a house built on a down slope from the street. Somehow water filled up the window wells, miraculously didn’t even go under the garage, and then rushed around to the backyard.
It took with it layers of mulch from along the fence, and continued right across our once lovely sand box; leaving ribbons of mulch throughout the sand. The raging river proceeded to wash large amounts of sand into our downhill neighbors’ yard. All my garden boxes flooded, the grape vines were peeled off the fence that was supporting most of their weight, and the new tree rings that I had just tilled and fertilized were filled and spilled.
Luckily there were only two rooms in the house that flooded. One of which is an unfinished food storage room, so there was minimal damage there, and most of the water drained into the concrete floor. But the water that came in through that room initially spread to the next room over and seeped through the wall. The next room over happens to be Ati’s room; the second room that flooded through the window.
So, unfortunately Ati’s room got it the worst; and Ati is not one capable of handling her emotions in any type of stressful situation. The water came in so fast that it poured over the window ledge and down the wall. It also flowed straight down, behind the sheetrock, soaking the insulation and spreading further sideways along the wall. It soaked her curtain, her pictures on the wall, and about two feet out onto the carpet. She had a dresser and bookshelf against the wall that have water damage on the bottom. Also, the closet is full of water where the storage room leaked through.
Because water damage is not a new thing to this house, we decided to just dry it out and move on (In any other house we would replace the dry wall and insulation, and replace the carpet-but who’s to say it won’t just happen again? and there’s so many other repairs to spend the money on). We moved Ati out of her room, cleaned the window sill and wall, and ripped up the carpet. There is a fan blowing on it around the clock. It’s starting to stink like mildew, and it’s really bothersome to live with. We keep spraying it with Lysol and leave the windows cracked to ventilate better.

It may or may not be getting better, but we’re expecting it to take a while to completely dry out. We may end up replacing the damaged drywall and insulation anyway, because we happen to have some material left from previous projects. It wouldn't be too difficult, it’ll just be a matter of getting around to it.
In the meantime, Ati is sleeping in Tad’s bed and Tad is sleeping in the family room. It took a bit of adjusting at first, but now it seems to work out alright. Ati was very emotional and displaced when the flooding first happened. Until she was told she could sleep in Tads bed (which was very exciting for her) she was an emotional train wreck: freaking out, screaming and crying about everything. Giving her something new and fun to focus on seemed to calm her down, at least initially. We’ve talked about just moving her into Tads room permanently, after everything’s put back together. She likes the idea, but she’ll be sharing the room with Eli and we haven’t quite decided if it will work or not. This is our test run. It would probably be good for her to learn to share a room; she’s always had sleeping problems and had to have her own room. She seems to be sleeping better most of the time, so it might be ok to at least try it out. The other possible problem with putting her back in her old room is the fear of being flooded again. She’d have a hard time getting over it, and it may cause further trauma for her.
It turns out we weren’t the only ones to be affected by the storm. Quite a lot of the town had flooding of some kind or other, but I’ve been surprised to hear about all the homes that actually had indoor flooding. At first I just assumed that it was just our house because there is EVERYthing wrong with our house, and it is ALways flooding and damaged in some way. I slowly learned of damage to our friends and neighbors, but then I heard that there was a lot of complaining at the city council meeting last night about homes being damaged. People want the city to install drainage systems. That would be great, but who knows if it will actually happen.
It's funny how something so unexpected can sneak up on you and then permanently change life; not only the way you live, but also the way you think. We went from having a slightly rainy, yet pleasant, afternoon, to experiencing a natural disaster (even though it was only a small scale disaster). It causes one to reevaluate planning and preparedness, to feel sadness and frustration, and to appreciate that: “it could've been worse".


Erin and Family said...

wow. all your hard work! so sorry! but like you said through the frustration, "it could have been worse".

mdhoskins said...

Hey Sister,

Floods are the worst! We live in a house built in 1925 and have experiences our fair share of flooding as well. I just found your blog so I will find some time to read and catch up on your life. I don't have a blog so here is the quick update: school, two mini weiner dogs, school, too hot, school, chicago internship, soda, picking up poop, part-time job at state farm corporate, school. Thats about it. I do graduate in December so things might change a bit. talk to you later.....beast master.