Hey, peeps! We’re not sure if we’ve ever mentioned it on the blog, but we live 6 short blocks away from the Susquehanna River. You know. The one that’s on the news right now for severe and record-breaking flash floods. Eeps!! In our area, the big emergency is that a part of that dike (aka the running trail Bradley and I love) has washed away. It’s not a good situation.
Before anyone panics (ahem, Bradley’s mom), we should go ahead and mention that we’re safe and sound in a very elevated area about 20 miles away from our house. We’re OK, really!
We were both at work in New York City, totally clueless about what was going on, when I received a text message from a new friend who lives a few blocks away (thank you, Jhane!). She let us know that our area was being evacuated and that roads would be shutting down soon. I called Bradley right away and we basically went into panic mode.
The smart thing to do would have been to say in NYC, but our cat was home alone. We knew we couldn’t live with ourselves if something happened to that cranky old turd, and we could have been stuck in NYC for up to a week due to road closures. So instead of doing the smart thing, we did what we thought was the right thing: we both left work early, jumped in the car and rushed home to rescue our feline friend. (Big thank you to our understanding bosses!)
When we got home, we noticed right away that there was a funky odor in the air. We ran to the basement to check out the situation below ground level and found this:
Sorry about the bad photo. We only had time for iPhonetography. That’s standing water in our basement. I guessed it was about 3 inches, but it went over Bradley’s ankles when he stood in it, so it was really more like 6 inches. We could hear it pouring in through the walls — literally the sound of a running faucet turned on high — and we flipped out.
We knew there was a sump pump in our basement (you can see it sticking up though the water on the top left hand side of the photo above), but we weren’t sure if it actually worked. It’s in a totally random location and there are no plug-ins anywhere near it. It’s been off ever since we got the house. Bradley ran an extension cord down to the basement, plugged in the pump and — yay! — it hummed and turned on. He ran the drain pipe outside, but it was pretty short. Still, it was pumping water out and that was better than nothing.
While the pump did it’s thang, we rushed upstairs to move everything from the first floor of the house up to the second floor. We’ve been complaining about being forced to live out of boxes, but they came in pretty handy last night. We just schlepped everything up to the guest bedroom — even the couch. The heavier stuff (like our brand new media cabinet and our bed) stayed downstairs, but we elevated them. We have a twin-sized daybed that was sitting in our dining room, and once we carried the mattress upstairs, we had a platform that we could stack a bunch of things on.
While we were carrying things upstairs, we couldn’t help but peek in the neighboring houses, and a lot of people were just hanging out and watching TV. We starting questioning whether we were overreacting. But, whatevs, this is our first flood. We took the paranoid first-time-homeowner route, and we don’t regret it.
After everything was off the floor, we went back downstairs to deal with the water pouring in through the walls. Once we took a look around, we could see that water was dripping in through several spots, but the faucet noise was coming from one dime-sized hole in the wall.
We had a quick brainstorm of all the things we could possibly shove in the hole to at least slow the water down. Cork from a wine bottle? Didn’t have one. A rag? Wouldn’t do much. Silicone? Not with the amount of water that was pouring in. And then, Bradley had it: “Rope!!” Uhhh, rope? “Didn’t you tell me that’s what shipbuilders use?” Oh. Em. Gee. YES. It is. Sorta.
A couple of weeks ago, I got all caught up with reading A Cat Peed On My Drywall, a renovation blog based in Nova Scotia. They mentioned an old shipbuilding technique for filling in gaps between wood planks — you just take a length of rope and shove it into the cracks. They were using it for insulating their cold wood floors, but I shared the post with Bradley because their floors ended up looking super cool.
Maybe it’s because I told Bradley it was a shipbuilding technique (he’s way into anything that involves building anything), but the whole stuff-rope-in-it thing stuck in his head. Standing there up to our ankles in mucky water, listening to the Niagara Falls version of basement leaks, it sounded like a really good idea. The rope would get wet and expand, which would at least slow the flow of water. It sounded logical in a crazy kinda way.
Bradley grabbed some rope, a hammer, and a fat nail. He used the hammer and nail to bang the rope into the hole. It took about 15 minutes and a lot more rope than we originally thought, but eventually, the water stopped. We were so geeked! Once it stopped, Bradley quickly applied a bunch of caulk around the area. We’re not sure if it’ll hold until the worst of the flood is over, but the rope is in there so tight that it’s not coming out for a while. And it’s better than nothing, right? (Thanks for giving us the idea ACPOMD! Love your blog, and a belated congrats on your pregnancy!)
Once the leak situation was under control, we went out to the garage and moved all of our building supplies and tools up to the garage attic. Everything that was too big to squeeze through the attic entry was raised up on cinder blocks.
The entire ordeal — getting everything moved upstairs, pumping the basement, sealing the leak, packing food and clothes for the evacuation — took about 5 hours. We decided not to wait until the morning to evacuate and left at 1am, exhausted, but feeling pretty good about all the prep work we did.
Even though the building we’re staying in is way above flood levels, they’re still expecting power outages in the area and the roads are shutting down. We woke up this morning and ran to pick up some rain boots for Bradley:
He was wading around in the nasty basement water in flip flops, and he was shivering from the cold the entire time. We figured we might as well get ‘em now, just in case.
Next stop was the grocery store where we stocked up on enough food to get us through a couple of days. We saw a lot of people stocking up on frozen foods, refrigerated goods and fresh meat. Super weird. We’re definitely not experts in emergency preparedness, but we thought we should get things that are shelf stable, just in case the power goes out. We grabbed some bread, crackers, peanut butter, canned beans, canned soup, brown rice and some fruits & veggies that don’t need refrigeration. We also grabbed one small package of chicken breast. If the power goes out, it won’t be a huge loss. We have access to a gas grill, so we’re all set. We also stocked up on bottled water and we have candles, lighters and flashlights ready to go.
After that, we hit up a cheap diner for a little pre-flood calorie-bomb action. Nothing says comfort food like breakfast for lunch:
L to R: pancakes, coffee, bacon, scrambled eggs. There was also some toast, but it hadn’t arrived yet. Best $11 we’ve spent in a long time…even though neither of us could actually finish that grotesque amount of food.
Now we’re both lounging around, waiting for the flooding to hurry up and happen. And hurry up and end, hopefully. It’s the waiting around that’s driving us bananas. We’re not sure how long the evacuation will last, but we’re pretty sure we won’t be doing any renovating this weekend. We still have a ton of Labor Day weekend projects to share, though, so stay tuned for those. And if you’re in the flood area, stay safe and stay dry!