Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Raindrops Keep Falling On My........house
It was a day like I have never seen in my 37 years of life.  Actually, I don't know one other person who had ever seen a day like this one.  In fact, I would guess that the only person in history who had ever lived through a day like this was named Noah.  Yes...that Noah.  The one with the boat.  The day was last Monday the 12th.  It began raining around 7:30am and didn't stop downpouring until after 8:00 at night.  DOWNPOURING.  Constant, loud, pelting rain for 12+ hours.  Everyone was amazed that it could rain that much.
I have a finished basement.  Less than a year ago, the previous owners of our house had completed the job with new carpets and paint on the paneling.  There is a drop ceiling and everything.  I mean, it is a finished basement complete with L-shaped leather couch, furniture, cable and all the kid's toys.  We also store a ton of stuff down there.  It is my favorite room in the whole house.  In fact, it's the main reason why I fell in love with the house in the first place back in October 2003.  I would finally get a basement.
Deb had gone down there around 6:30 to check on it with all the water outside.  We never had water down there but it was a good idea to check.  Dry as a bone.  Nice!  Nary a drop.  I arrived home around 7 and we had a nice dinner and the kids went to bed around 8 as usual.  I was watching the Baseball Homerun Derby on TV around 9:45 when I decided to go up and get ready for bed.  As I passed the basement door, I heard a strange noise.  It sounded like a toy that was left on.  I thought maybe Deb left the TV on when she went down there earlier.  I put the light on at the top of the stairs and looked down....
I have never, thank God, lost anyone tragically in my immediate family.  My cat died in 1999 but, well, that was my cat.  They are not supposed to live to 19 years old.  Basements are supposed to live forever.  They hold your memories and never tell a soul.  I lived in my parent's house with a finished basement until I was 24 and, let me tell you, if those basement walls could talk then I would be on Jerry Springer.
I walked down the stairs to my basement and the final step onto the basement floor was like stepping into the kiddie pool at the swimclub.  Water above my toes.  Covered the floor of the room.  Edge to edge.  It was getting higher as I stood there. 
My first thought was to get the electrical stuff out of the way.  The dehumidifier was 2 inches in water.  I was going to run to it but it was like sloshing through ab obstacle course with water in it.  I picked it up and unplugged it.  All the water was draining from it as I put it on a table.  What next?  I scanned the floor.  HOW LUCKY!  There were no books on the floor but the bottom shelf of the bookshelf was touching the waterline.  Took those books out.  Then I saw the toy in the middle of the floor that had caught my attention from the top of the stairs.  It was a Blues Clues toy that was screaming, having shorted out in the pool.  Toys can't swim.
15 minutes later and the water was above my ankles.  Six inches in spots.  I had moved the wooden furniture from the floor into the garage and Deb dried it.  The couch, however, could not be moved.  The rain had stopped...but I had a nightmare on my hands.
I was depressed.  I knew that a plummer was on the way but it took him 2 hours to get there on this busy evening.  I sat on the couch with my head in my hands and I was depressed.  I felt an actual sense of loss.  It felt as though something had died suddenly and I could not control those emotions.  My basement was in an accident and was severely injured...
The next day was horrible.  The plummer pumped 2,000 gallons of water out of my basement.  He left after that four hour job and I remained pulling up carpet and padding, rolling it up with duct tape and hauling it out, dripping, to the curb for the trash man.  I used so much duct tape rolling up the carpet - I realized what Tony Soprano must feel like. 
By nightfall my hands were blistered from the carpet and the basement floor was glistening with what was left of the dampness.  I used a borrowed wet-vac to clear any puddles and borrowed 4 fans that I rotated around the room to finish the drying process.  By 8pm I was done with everything I could do to insure there would be no mold or mildew problem down there.  I was POOPED.
The phone rings.  My sister is on vacation in Alaska with her husband.  It's HER home number on the caller ID.  Before I answer I know exactly what happened.  Yup.  Mom went to feed her cats.  The food and litter box are in the basement.  I got there 15 minutes later with the wet-vac.  300 gallons of water later I was loading the wet-vac back into my car and driving home.
I've always considered myself lucky.  Things always seem to go my way.  I believe that's karma.  I believe good things happen to good people; positive people.  Why was it that I had ALL my valuables packed in Rubbermaid containers in my basement?  Could I have known?  7 large sized Rubbermaid containers stuffed with my baseball card collection and other sports memorabilia items like 1970's programs and signed baseballs.  Floating.....but safe inside.  All the kids toys - same thing.  On tables or somehow propped up against other things.  No wet stuffed animals.  No wet books.  Lucky lucky lucky.
Still depressed, I turned on the news and within 15 minutes I was not depressed any longer.  Other people - in MY township - lost everything.  Pictures, momentos, important papers, collectibles, memoirs....HOUSES....gone.  If I was depressed...what were they?
Now it's Tuesday and it's been a week since the rain.  The couches have dried out well and I've been successful in avoiding mildew and mold.  The fans are off.  My basement looks like a half-finished storage shed filled with boxes, Rubbermaids, and some furniture.  There is carpet tack all around the perimeter of the room and I go down there several times a day to check on it.  I dunno...I guess I have accepted that it's not finished anymore but there is still a sadness down there. 
We plan on putting carpet down there again soon after taking a few small measures to insure that we are safer from water than we were before. 
Tuesday afternoon while I was cleaning the basement, Elijah came home from camp and ran downstairs.  I was practically in tears when I saw him and he practically ignored the fact that it was wet and the carpet was gone.  He just ran over and gave me a hug and asked me to play with him.  He grabbed the waterlogged Blues Clues toy and handed it to me.  I gave him a hug and told him he was a gift from God.

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