This blog entry was written on Friday, August 8, 2007:
One of the books that Marcus and I like to read is called Wild Weather Day. It talks about different weather conditions all with a fun plot. Okay, so it isn’t that fun of a plot. Yesterday was certainly a wild weather day here, minus the hail and the rainbow that show up at the end of the book.
There were two big storms that came through the city and surrounding areas yesterday. The first occurred while I was already at work and was the lesser of two. It was just after 7am and although the sun should have been shining, it was as dark as night outside. One guy at my office was on his way in and was talking about how traffic was moving at about 20mph on the interstate, several cars were pulled over, and he kept looking at his clock thinking he accidentally was leaving for work in the middle of the night instead of in the morning because it was so dark. We were listening to the radio at work and people kept calling in to talk about all the roads that suddenly flooded, most of them right around the area of town where I live. Then as quickly as the storm started, it was over and the sun was shining again.
I went on with my day and had to travel to a few projects and ended my day about 15 miles from home. As I was headed out of the office, a man working there was looking at the radar. All I saw was a giant blob of yellow and red. He said to be careful, the storm was here. I was convinced if I could just drive fast enough that I could make it to Marcus’s day care and hide out there. As soon as I stepped out of the office I had my doubts that I would be able to make it. The sky in the north was black. I jumped in my car and hit the gas.
For the first two or three miles I was driving a bit faster than normal. Then the wind starting blowing and small tree parts were flying and my car was being pushed around. It was time to start driving slower than normal. The road that Marcus's day care is on had flooded in the morning. This isn't just some little low-lying road. It is a six lane road with businesses and strip malls lining each side. Although I wasn’t sure at the time, I assumed if that road had flooded, than so did the road I use to get to that road. I headed down the long winding road to get to the road that led to the road where Marcus's day care is. Apart from having to drive around a small fallen tree, things were still good. The bridge at the bottom wasn’t flooded but just down stream there was a giant tree stuck in the next bridge, likely leftover from the morning when the road had flooded. The creek was still in its banks but the road was starting to fill up with water fast. Just as I pulled onto the road where Marcus's day care is, the sky became a constant flash of lightening. I was scared! His day care is only about a half mile up the road but I was beginning to think I wouldn't make it. I nearly hit a sign that had blown into the road but did make it to the parking lot of the day care. It was too scary to get out of my car but it was quite scary just sitting in my car too. I waited a few minutes and the lightening strikes seemed to subside from about 10 strikes a second to two strikes a second so I made a run for it. I was completely soaked by the time I reached the door.
All the kids and teachers had been moved into the long, narrow hallway of the day care. Many of the kids were crying and I didn't blame them! There were tornado warnings out all over the county and since all the classrooms have windows, they needed to get into the hallway. I sat on the floor and Marcus came right into my lap, confused and glad to see me. I decided just to hang out in the hallway with everyone else because I was not about to go back outside in that mess!
A few other parents came in, picked up their kids, and left. I figured the worst of the storm was over but I wasn’t ready to face flooded roads. At some point the lights went out. Then the backup emergency lights went out. Marcus and I just hung out for about 30 minutes and played ball with a few other kids in the hall. Finally we were ready to face the world.
It was still raining a little bit but the wind had stopped and the tornado warnings had been lifted. A township vehicle was blocking the entrance onto one of the roads we usually take, a road that floods during huge storms, so we had to find another route home. I was afraid of what I would find when I got home. At first everything looked fine.
I tried to open the garage door but quickly realized the power must be out. I instantly knew our basement was flooded. Our basement has flooded in the past, but we invested in having internal drains added and a sump pump to pump out excess water. Only problem is, the sump pump runs off of electricity, something we didn't have. So far this hasn't been a problem. Marcus and I came in through the front door and I figured I would take some time to get us settled before I bothered to check out the basement. What could I do about it anyway? I went to let the pooch outside but decided it was likely not a good idea to head out the front instead because the patio was flooded (all the water from our patio runs right down the back of our house and into our basement) and covered in mud. I started to turn so I could take the pooch out the front door when I noticed it.
Our house is on a hill but our backyard has been split up in two level parts, separated by a retaining wall and some stairs. This is what the wall looked like on the left side of the steps:
Pretty normal, just wet. That isn't what caught my attention. What did catch my eye is what the retaining wall looked like on the right side of our steps. It looked like this:
It seems that all the water from that side of our yard, from our neighbor's yard, and from yards of the people behind us runs right down that area of our yard, through the retaining wall, across our patio, and into our basement. I guess the retaining wall was just tired of retaining.
I called Greg at work to let him know the bad news. He thought at first that our pool exploded. (The pool only slightly exploded. It overflowed, pushed down one side slightly, and drained out about 8 inches of water into our yard before recovering on its own. The area where our pool is doesn't drain into the collapsed retaining wall though, just added to the water that was on our patio through another route.) I still hadn't checked the basement. It was dark down there since we didn't have power and the flashlight was out of batteries. Of course the spare batteries were in the basement. Looking down the steps I didn't think it was dry. I didn't recall leaving two laundry baskets in the middle of the room. I was correct in thinking they floated their way there. I creeped down the steps in my bare feet in stuck in a toe, then a few more toes, then about half of my foot. Not bad, only about 2-3 inches of water in our lovely, finished, carpeted basement.
Since our basement has had an issue of water issues in the past, thankfully we have taken precautions. All the electronics are off the floor and most everything in our storage area of any value is on shelves. The water in the storage room didn't even get very high. All the empty cardboard boxes on the floor are destroyed, but no big loss. I did have one box of Marcus’s clothes that he outgrew on the floor but those are all washable. The big loss was all my art, craft, and card making supplies. I am estimating that there must have been around $200 worth of card stock, scrap booking paper, stickers, and who knows what else in there that are all a pulpy mess. There were three boxes that I attempted to move out to the garage where it was drier but the bottoms just started to fall out. Instead I floated them out there but I really don’t think there is going to be much to salvage. Marcus's lifebook was in the one of the boxes but it was resting nice and dry on the top.
It is 8am a day later. I didn't go to work today. Our power is still out. Yep, about 17 hours after the storm and not even a flicker of electricity. I doubt that Marcus's day care is even open since they likely don't have power either. I don't really have anyway of finding out since we have no TV, no internet, and I haven’t attempted to try to locate a battery powered radio yet. (I'm not sure how much longer my laptop battery will last!) I just hope everything in our fridge and freezer doesn’t spoil, or at least most everything. I have some meat in the freezer which is probably well on its way to defrosting. I guess if we ever get our power restored I'll be cooking that up. When I called into work this morning I was told that there was a chance that everyone was going to be sent home anyway because they didn't have any water. I am pretty sure by the end of my phone conversation that issue was resolved though.
Marcus is sleeping in. Greg is at work but is going to come home either this afternoon or if we get power restored. There really isn't anything we can do to help out our basement at this point. The water has mostly receded and is just hanging out in the carpeting. We can't shop vac it up or even run a fan because we still don't have power. This is definitely the longest I have ever gone without power. At least it is all a distraction from worrying about our adoption for once!
We talked to some neighbors last night. Someone a street down said their basement was also flooded because their sump pumps couldn't pump. They said someone down the hill another street had three feet of water in his basement! I would take 3 inches over 3 feet any day! I didn't bother to take any pictures of our flooded basement. It looks just like a normal old basement but with water on the floor.