Monday, July 26, 2010

Flooding, Again

This is the view from my front porch during the torrential downpour last Thursday evening. We had about 7 inches of rain in under 2 hours. The sewers were overwhelmed and many of the streets in my neighborhood ran like rivers. Around the city, sink holes opened up, foundations were crushed, and cars stalled in water up to their windshields. Thousands of basements flooded, many with sewage. Now piles of refuse are heaped outside of houses as the clean-up begins. Devastation is wide-spread - $28 million of damage and FEMA is apparently on its way.

Here is some footage of the flooding in my neighborhood:

We had about 6 inches of rain water in our basement and have finally dried out. We had water in with the dry clothes in the dryer and found our fans and dehumidifier floating in water. They have all dried out and amazingly still work. We threw out many items that were ruined and are still sweeping up the dirt and bleaching the floors.

It was chaos that night. I was driving in circles trying to go the 1 mile to pick up Maia at daycare - every direction I turned cars were stalled in waste deep water. And the rain just kept falling. After about 40 minutes of driving I finally found a possible thoroughfare, though it too was flooded. I watched nervously as 4 or 5 cars went around me and made it through the flooded intersection. I gritted my teeth and pushed the accelerator. From there it was mostly higher ground and I made it to the day care center about 15 minutes late. Meanwhile, Julian was at home by himself and the lights were flashing on and off and water was filling up the basement. I knew I wasn't going to make it back through those intersections again, so I followed my brother-in-law back to his house in more pouring rain. John made it home before me by walking two miles to our house, abandoning his car when he realized that he could not get any closer. It was totally surreal and it remains so today as the piles grow bigger and more widespread and neighbors share their hardships with each other.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Flash Flood

The rains came at about 8:30 last night. Thunder claps broke open the sky and the rainwater flooded down into the streets and up onto the lawns. The winds whipped at the blinds and window glass. Rain pelted against the house then calmed into a steady patter. Until 1:30 am when I woke to hear JB calling out in panic and desperation “the basement is flooding!”

“I watched it happen, the rain poured in the basement and kept rising. It wasn’t draining, just getting higher and higher.” I put on my rubber boots and waded through the dirty water to find and unstop the drain. I pulled a piece of plastic and a small rubber ball out and the drain opened with a strong swirl. We put buckets up against the wall to collect the water pouring from small spigots in the foundation. The four inches of water began to drain and JB picked up as much wood and tools as he could and propped them on overturned buckets and garbage cans. We were in the midst of renovating the basement…

I walked outside to check the sewers to make sure they weren’t blocked. The rain was still falling steadily. I stepped through water up to my mid calf to the corner watching it stream down the street until it picked up speed and swung around the corner in currents and into the sewer. I stood at the corner and leaned down to pull out branches and wads of leaves that had were stuck in the drain. The dizzying swirl of water as it rushed into the sewer made me lose my balance for a minute; there was no dry ground to keep me steady, everything was moving. Up the block I saw my neighbor raking the other 2 sewers out but water seemed to be standing still in the intersection as well as up the block where I dared not walk for fear it was deeper than my boots. A new body of water appeared between the curbs, a deep plush carpet of ripples and reflections. It crept up the curb and onto the grass and sidewalks. “The whole village is flooding” the officer told JB when he called the public works.

JB stayed up mopping the water towards the drain while I crept into bed next to Maia. In the morning, no trace of standing water could be found, not even a small slashing puddle. The drains cleared and the rainwater drained into sewers and basements and well soaked grounds. Out on the lawn was the only evidence of flooding; detritus in the form of tee-shirts, flip flops, bottles and plastic bags left by the rushing water and a well defined line of sticks and mulch and tree branches midway between the house and the sidewalk. Now the fans and dehumidifier are humming away in the basement as it begins to dry out. Only small puddles are left now right at the base of the foundation. Rugs and towels are dripping on the laundry line outside under a cool, overcast sky