Monday, April 02, 2007

The Flood.

I have been wanting to write about this for over two weeks.

I spent my spring break visiting my parents on the East Coast. We got into the airport just as they were cancelling afternoon flights due to a horrible incoming storm. We raced home (two hours) and managed to get in before it, but it started snowing really heavily not long after we got there. By nightfall, there were a few inches on the ground. Sometime during the night, the temperature rose, and it began to rain steadily. This rain lasted almost the whole next day, during which time, much of the snow melted.

I have to say first that there is *no* body of water on my parents' property.

When I got up the next morning and looked outside, it was as if the snow had turned brown in great patches. When I came downstairs, I could see that it was water pooling on top of the snow. At first I thought it was just collected rain water, and I suggested to my dad that I go down to the edge of the front lawn and cut a trench through where the snowplow had made a dam of sorts, so that the water could drain into the street and run down the hill to the bay. He said not to bother. But I went out anyway, in shoes (I d no boots there, and nothing waterproof). When I stepped into the 6 inches of snow, there were at least three to four inches of water below it (and ice under that), so my feet were wet pretty quickly. I got down the drive and made the trench.

Then I noticed that one corner of the house was sitting in a giant pool of water.

I came in to dry off, and my dad noticed there was water coming into the basement. I put on fresh socks and pants (it was raining buckets and I was soaked) and went back out and dug a trench from the corner of the house to the channel I'd dug earlier, and now there was a rushing brook in the front yard.

I came back in - this was maybe 20-40 minutes after we saw that there was a little water in the basement - and now the basement had SIX INCHES of water.

Changed socks and pants again and went back out and dug another trench from another pooled area so it could empty into the street. There was now a torrent of water running through the front yard, with one stream running out the new channel and the other running right up against the house. I was standing in it halfway to my knees and it was freezing. I had to go in because my feet hurt so bad; I considered crying, but it was like the time I had to walk home in heels from a club downtown and it hurt so much that I wanted to cry, but I didn't have the energy for tears and for walking, both.

When I got back in, I saw that there was now 2 feet of water in the basement (this was, again, maybe 30-40 minutes later, so the water was rising fast). Changed again, rubbed my feet, put on dry socks and once more forced my feet into shoes full of water. This time I went around the back of the house to see what was going on - none of us had been back there because we'd been dealing with the front.

There was a stream rushing from behind the house, and when it came alongside it, much of it was travelling downhill and straight toward the house (and into the basement). So I dug the last trench, directing the stream down to the street and away from the house. At one point I dropped my shovel and had to FLY after it because the water was moving so fast. There were rapids in this water. It was 2-4 feet deep and 2-5 feet across. All I did was move some snow out of the way and the force of the water and the depression of the land did the rest.

For that whole day, there was an unending torrent of rushing water cascading through the yard and down the street in front of the house. Thankfully, that slowed the water coming into the basement, and the fire dept. was able to pump out the water. We never lost power. The furnace was off overnight, but we had kerosene heaters. It took a couple of days to get the water heater working, but we were so lucky. I have no doubt that if my dad hadn't suggested digging that last trench, or if I'd been unable to do it - or if I'd not been here, because I don't think my parents could have done it - the basement would have filled and the first floor would have flooded, as well.

The water kept running outside for days. It had lowered considerably after the first day, and after a couple more days, it was just trickling, but it kept running.


andi said...

I am sorry to hear your parents had problems with this weather. They were lucky you were there.
I hope there wasn't much damage - if any at all. Floods are amazing - they seem to occur in the least likely places, don't they?

belledame222 said...

Wow. You're a good daughter. that shit's scary.