Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Well, it could have been worse

"Wow, the family room floor looks mighty shiny this morning."

7 AM today and that's what went through my head as I stood at the bottom of the stairs looking into our basement family room (aka our home office space and TV room).

Sadly, the tile-polishing elves didn't come in the night to buff the floor and make them all pretty. That would have been much more welcome.

Instead, our basement flooded for the first time in the five years that we've owned this house. Sure, during the summer we run dehumidifiers down cellar to deal with the summer humidity but that's nothing compared to what I saw as I trooped downstairs for a quick look at the morning news on my computer.

There's nothing to wake you up like seeing 2-3 inches of water across virtually your entire basement. A quick visit to the circuit breakers and I minimized the risk that computers or TVs would blow up or that I'd get fried as I sloshed around. (Side note -- thank god we had an entirely new breaker box installed just a week ago and our great electrician kindly labeled all of the circuits! Hurrah!)

An hour later, after I'd moved all the electrical cables and such out of our new indoor swimming pool and had started to relocate the many items that were now doubling as sponges, my wife gets home from the gym.

"Honey," I shout up the stairs. "We've got a problem."

And so our unexpected vacation day began, leading into a seemingly endless struggle with the shop vac, utility pumps (no sump pump here), soaking feet, continuing seepage of more water from a freakishly high water table, and profanity galore. Seriously, I just wanted to chuck it ever now and then and go someplace without a flooded basement. I hear Australia is nice this time of year.

11 and a half hours and I think several hundred gallons of water later, it occurred to me that while I'd taken a few breaks, I hadn't had anything to eat since I woke up that morning. Not good. So my lovely wife dragged me from the house, my stomach in knots about what we'd find when we got home. Dinner was great but I was still thinking about how miserable I was going to be if we returned home to find everything underwater again.

Thankfully, things were no worse and perhaps just a bit better than when we left. And then I started the grand scheme of things, it could have been so much worse. Yes, the basement is soaked and we'll be running dehumidifiers and using drying agent from now until Doomsday to get rid of the moisture and avoid mold. However, we didn't lose anything irreplaceable like photos (let's hear it for plastic bins!). Our furniture appears to be fine. Our electronics survived with the exception of the easily replaceable laptop power adapter (that will teach us to leave it lying on the floor by mistake), and neither of us got hurt, electrocuted, soaking wet, or otherwise seriously damaged.

It could have been worse.

We could have been like the guy we heard about today who came home from vacation recently to find 5 and half feet of water in his basement. I can't even imagine how I would have reacted to that.

We could have been like the family here in Bristol who came home after work one day to discover 200 gallons of heating oil filling their basement, the result of a mistaken oil delivery to the wrong house...a house that had an external pipe but no oil tank. Those poor souls were out of their house for 18 months as hazardous waste crews pumped out the oil and then gutted the foundation and surrounding yard as part of the toxic waste cleanup.

We could have been like family members who discovered that their tankless hot water had ruptured, filling their basement not just with water but steaming hot water.

Thankfully, none of those things happened. Instead, we had an extremely crappy day that left us exhausted and frustrated and not yet done (more cleanup tomorrow). However, it's manageable. We've been lucky. It's been a while since we've had a real stinker of a day or a major disaster. Hopefully, we've gotten it out of our system (and our house) and can avoid another for a while. After all, everyone has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day now and then, even in Australia.

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