?

Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Damage Report

This is the first time in my life I've ever lived in a valley instead of the top of a hill. Until last night, I didn't fully appreciate the benefits of the latter option.



We were enjoying the storm quite a lot throughout dinner; in fact, Adam went out in it and played with the energy for a while. That was entertaining; at certain points, he shouted at the storm and it thundered back at him. It's the first time we had a really good thunderstorm since we moved, and it was very cool. It was also very interesting to see the purpose of the little slits in the brick retaining wall holding up our garden; we had little waterfalls pouring out of each of them. I kind of feel bad about the spiders that used to live in them; they probably didn't weather the storm too well. We were slightly concerned about a bit of erosion of the yard into the driveway, but everything seemed like issues we could deal with.

Then the power went out.

Then we realized we hadn't seen the kittens in a while, and that we were hearing faint trickling sounds coming from the basement.

Mina and Eris were investigating a small stream of water going from the corner to the drain down there. We'd had a bit of flooding one day this past winter, when we got a lot of rain that couldn't soak into the frozen ground, but the inspector had pronounced the basement a bit susceptible to moisture but no big problem.

We shone a flashlight around and discovered another little stream. Then another. Then another. And then we looked at the back wall, right underneath the gas meter, and noticed a little fountain squirting directly out of the wall.

O.O

It's probably fortunate that we were down there at that moment, because that was almost exactly when the ground reached full saturation and the stormdrains began to back up. As we watched, the water stopped going down the drain and began to rise. I briefly tried to bail out the area around the drain with a bucket, until I realized--there was absolutely nowhere I could put the water. Even if I took it upstairs and threw it out into the yard, it would just keep flowing back in.

We began simultaneously trying to get our possessions on top of the appliances and rescue the cats, whose curiosity was getting them into frequent crises as they tried to investigate the water and then found themselves trapped. Water began to bubble up through cracks in the basement floor. We discovered another wall fountain beside Adam's vintage copy of the Fireball Island board game (one of his most prized possessions) and a C3PO figure boxed set. Don't know how bad the damage was to them yet. We kept moving stuff around in between harried calls to our parents asking what to do, and by that time, the water was up to our ankles in the highest parts of the basement, and shin-depth around the drain. Water was coming out of all four of the walls. The kittens were cowering in terror on top of the washing machine. I felt like I was a passenger on the fucking Titanic. But there is always a part of that appreciates a good adventure story even when I'm in the midst of it, so instead of freaking out too much, I just had to laugh and watch the water continue to rise.

We rescued one of the litterboxes, brought it upstairs, and closed off the basement. This was an ordeal, because the cats--despite being terrified--couldn't look away from the apocalyptic destruction of their lair, and every time we brought one of them upstairs, they would run back down again and get stranded. But we eventually got them both upstairs, and since it was getting a bit dark to do anything but read by candlelight, we decided to check out how things were doing outside.

Well.

At first, it didn't look too bad. Adam's mom had said she'd seen a weather report about cars being underwater at Big Jim's, and in our naivete, we were like, "LOL, that's impossible." We didn't see any terrible mayhem from our front door, at least; only a stream of water going down the road and a big puddle on our front walk. Then I stepped off the porch steps and realized that the puddle went up to my ankles...and it had a current. At that point I was intrigued and had to look at what was going on in the neighborhood, and Adam followed. It was actually difficult getting to the street. Below the water there was a layer of mud, and my flip-flops kept sticking and sliding (that will be important later). When I got to the street (having had to hold onto the fence to get there!), I realized that what had seemed like a small trickle of water...well, wasn't, because the edge of the street was gone in places, making it a lot deeper than it looked. We went upstream, and that was when we began to see the really interesting stuff.

Boundary Street was completely underwater, and in the middle of it was a fountain about three feet tall and twice as wide as I am, shooting up out of a manhole like a geyser. In fact, almost all of the manholes in the neighborhood were doing that. We waded up Boundary and turned onto Saline, and looked over toward Big Jim's. The picture I took is up on Facebook. Adam's mom was right. There was a car sort of half on the curb and half on Saline, nose-down in the water, submerged up to the front seat. Only the back half was visible. Sitting beside it was an SUV with water up to its hood. People were standing around just staring in amazement and laughing, because I don't think any of us could believe what we were seeing. Horrible property damage aside, it was almost kind of cool to look at.

At that point the rain began to pick up a lot again, so we started to head back home. On the way back up to our sidewalk, one of my sandals stuck in the mud while I was fighting the current. My foot pulled out of it, I bent down to retrieve it, and it was gone. We still haven't found it. It's probably in the river by now. And it was one of my favorite shoes, too--one of the Tinkerbell flip-flops I bought during our honeymoon the last time we decided to walk around in a torrential downpour (although to our credit, that time, it was a tropical storm and we didn't have much choice).

That was the biggest excitement for the night, except for hearing weather reports from other people, since our power was still out (apparently a tornado touched down in Braddock and cars were floating away at the intersection of Bates Street, which is only two traffic lights away from our neighborhood). I think we went to bed before 11, because it was dark, we were tired, and there was nothing else to do but wait for it to stop raining. The city actually sent street-sweeping trucks to our area this morning. It's the first time I've ever seen them there.

Early morning was a bit miserable for us; we still had no power, our gas was now off, and we had a refrigerator and two freezers' worth of thawing food meant to get us through the rest of the month because we have no money. But we did have enough hot water to shower with, at least, and the power went back on right as Adam was leaving for class. And Saline Street (the only way out of the neighborhood by car) was surprisingly unscathed. We'd been worried, due to the angle of the car sticking out of it last night, that it had collapsed.

So as long as our gas is back on by the time we get home, things will mostly be back to normal. We'll need to dry out the basement, clean the floor, and see what damage was done to our board games, and we'll probably have to shovel lots of mud off the sidewalks, but it's a lot better than it could have been. My mom told me that there were houses in Oakland and Squirrel Hill that had five feet, not five inches, of water in the basement, and that people trying to seek shelter from the funnel clouds had to run back upstairs when they realized their cellars were completely full of water. So I guess our first natural disaster wasn't all that bad. I hope everyone else was able to get through it all right as well.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
guendolen_sama
Jun. 18th, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC)
Whoa, sounds like you guys had a far worse time of it than I did. I never lost power or anything.... Here's hoping that you didn't lose any appreciable amounts of this month's preserved fare! Also, if you need a hand with anything, please do let me know.
pghkitten
Jun. 19th, 2009 01:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks--I think our food remained frozen enough to stay safe, but we're afraid today that our hot water heater may have been a casualty. The pilot light won't reignite. We will let you know if we need any help with anything, but if we do, it might be something icky like shoveling mud off the sidewalk. Thank you for the offer!
guendolen_sama
Jun. 20th, 2009 12:27 am (UTC)
You're welcome! Mom told me your heater is rescued, which I'm glad of.
pixxelpuss
Jun. 19th, 2009 02:26 am (UTC)
I always forget, when considering how totally fucking cool big weather is, that it is also a massive pain in the ass and potentially damaging. A woman in WA drowned in her basement a couple of years ago in a situation similar to yours. Yikes.
pghkitten
Jun. 19th, 2009 01:27 pm (UTC)
That's one of the most frustrating parts--until it started destroying our house, we were enjoying the storm so much. I don't want to get paranoid about flooding every time we have a thunderstorm.

!! The thought of drowning in one's own basement is one of those things that seems too surreal to happen. That's really terrible--and reminds me that the little stuff we're complaining about could have been so much worse.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )