Monday, March 22, 2010

when it rains, it floods

Yes, that's right. Our basement "flooded". I say "flooded" because I think in comparison to lots of our neighbors, our measly inch of water was totally unimpressive. One of our neighbors got 3 feet of water in her totally finished basement, with flat panel televisions and couches and train tables and cabinets floating around.

On Monday, otherwise known as day 3 of nonstop record breaking rain, I came home from Gabe's school pickup to find a few puddles of water on the floor. I called Josh, who offered to leave work immediately to see where the leak was, and by the time he was home 45 minutes later, the puddles had spread to an allover low covering of water. I frantically began calling rental places and hardware stores looking for a pump or a wet vacuum and everywhere had sold out hours before. Everyone I called said the number of wet basements in our area was unprecedented, and I started to panic. I had no idea what we were going to do with all of this water, and I didn't know how bad it was going to get because it seemed to be rising fast.

I continued calling stores all across Massachusetts and eventually found a small hardware store who said they were just receiving a shipment of sump pumps and wet vacuums and there was a line of 80 people, but we were welcome to come stand in line and hope for the best. I begged them to put aside a vacuum, I even offered to pay in advance, and they refused, so I shoved Josh out the door and told him to break all speed limits and not to come back without a vacuum.

While he was driving, I called that same store back at 5 minute intervals (they must have loved me) and kept up a running status report on the remaining vacuums. Josh made it in time, returned home with our bounty, and spent the rest of the day and night- from 3pm to 11pm- filling and emptying the wet vacuum without any breaks. He estimated he must have been filling the vacuum about two times per minute (so every 30 seconds), without stopping. It was INSANE.

Thankfully, his hard work seemed to pay off, and he kept the water from rising beyond the one inch mark. At several points during the day, he was vacuuming the water and I was using cups and dust pans to scoop the water into buckets and then dump them into the downstairs sink. The water was coming in through the actual concrete, though, so there was no way to stop any leak or tell where it was coming from. The backyard and street were totally flooded, and any little crack in the foundation allowed water to pour in, and even areas where there was no visible crack had water seeping through the ground.

Josh fell asleep for a few hours before tackling the water again in the morning. Once the rain stopped sometime during the night, the water stopped rising and we were able to start the drying process.

Our basement is a semi-finished playroom (wall paneling and linoleum tiles) and almost all of our toys are downstairs, so as the water began to rise, it was a race to remove all unpacked boxes, toys, bins, etc. Thankfully, our favorite bookcases saved all the toys and I store most of the kid's clothing and our items in plastic bins. We still moved everything out, just in case, especially because I am beyond terrified of mold.

We're airing everything out, running fans and dehumidifiers like crazy, and hoping for the best. Most of the basement is the wood paneling and concrete walls, but there are a few spots where the drywall got wet, and I'm terrified mold might set in and we'd have to rip everything out. Besides seeing the actual mold spores, does anyone know how you can tell/make sure there is no mold? Will it be obvious? If the water was there for less than 24 hours and we've been running the fans and dehumidifier since, do you think we're safe?

Despite the inconvenience, I still consider us extremely lucky as I drive around our neighborhood and see the countless hoses leading out of basements and into the street with a steady stream of water pouring out. My neighbors say that in 26 years they've never seen anything like it, so here's hoping it'll be another 26 years before it happens again. I'm just thankful we hadn't installed carpeting yet! We almost did it a few weeks ago!


divrchk said...

I would call your homeowners insurance. It might be worth filing a claim and having them send out a professional company to make sure you don't end up with a mold problem. They have better fans and can really tell when everything is dry.

I would also think about installing a sump pump.

Bobbie said...

Maybe this is only true of small towns, but often your local fire department will come and help pump out your basement.

Chatty Cricket said...

Homeowners might not help, unless you have flood insurance. Which most people don't (we are required to since we live xx distance from the water). BUT I agree with divrchk, that a call is absolutely worth it.

IF you're concerned, I also think the pro company is worth a call. When we had water in our basement (GRRR DEHUMIDIFIER GAH) we most definitely sprouted mold on our dry wall. Very visible mold. HOWEVER, we also learned that our drywall had been improperly hung with no space at the bottom, so the moisture was essentially sealed right in there. That may have been the difference between mold and no mold. We haven't taken the wall down yet.

Friends of ours found mold in one of their walls after they noticed a "smell" coming from a certain area of their above ground room. This was not in a basement. They had no visible mold stains, and it wasn't after a flood. They just noticed the smell and thought maybe something was, ahem, expired back there.

halloweenlover said...

Our fire department does pump water out, but they got over 400 calls that day so they prioritized and only people who had several feet or a fire hazard or RAW SEWAGE in their basement got any pumping. Ick. After that tidbit I was totally grateful for my measly half-inch of water.

No flood insurance, unfortunately. And our insurance company doesn't cover any damage to walls, even if you do have flood insurance. They only cover the foundation and the furnace and water heater.

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Darryl Iorio said...

I know how devastating and frustrating flooding inside the house can be. If you have carpeted floors, it can even get worse. It is important to act quickly whenever flood cleanup is necessary as molds can grow in 24 to 48 hours after a flood.