Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Quiltville mystery part 6 redux, and a rain story

I'm joining the rows this morning (half are done) and I stopped to see if Bonnie has posted her border ideas. Rats! Nothing yet.

It has at least stopped raining. says we got 3.4 inches in the last 24 hours. Add about 3/4 inch to that for Monday night and you see that in the last 36 hours we were about washed away! There was a river running down the slope in my back yard. Luckily, whoever did the final grade on this lot so many years ago understood water management and we never have a wet crawlspace.

I can't say that for the last house we owned. It was new construction in a hilly subdivision. I knew he had done the perimeter drains correctly, but it worried me that the lot to the right of the house was higher and would drain onto my foundation where the basement was the deepest. That of course was the half of the basement that was finished. There was a laundry room, hall and roughed-in bath, which we never completed. The rest of the basement was block walls and slab floors. We used it for storage of a few pieces of furniture, and boxes of books and other household goods that wouldn't fit upstairs.

After a wet start to the winter in January 1993, it started to rain heavily on the Friday night before Martin Luther King Day weekend. We had planned to to go Pigeon Forge on Saturday, and decided that the rain wouldn't deter us. I had to run down to the basement as we were getting dressed, to retrieve a shirt from the laundry. When I stepped off the last stair I hit water on the floor. "Oh, no", I thought at first, "the water heater is leaking." That, I had experience with. I headed down the hall to the laundry room. The water was getting worse. And it wasn't coming from the water heater. It was oozing out between the baseboard and the concrete slab on the far wall - the wall where the basement was completely underground. I went in the roughed-in bathroom next door. At the capped-off toilet flange, water was coming up around the hole in the slab. I knew then we had a major issue.

The ground had become so saturated that there was nowhere for the water to go and the water table was rising. Under my house. It had reached the deepest corner of the basement wall and had begun to infiltrate between the block walls sitting on the slab. It was also perking up wherever there was a gap, like the roughed-in plumbing. The opposite side of the basement, which was totally above ground on the back side, did not have a problem. Yet.

I started mopping. I laid towels along the baseboards and anywhere else the water was coming in, and every two hours, I spun the water out of them in the washer and replaced them. Every two hours. For 36 hours straight. Through the day, the night, the next day. By that time, the towels weren't catching the water at all, it was coming in faster than I could mop it up. When I checked the last time, there was over 1/2 inch of water in the laundry floor. At some time mid-Sunday afternoon, I sat down on the stairway landing and said "Forget it. I'm done." Whatever the water did, I couldn't stop it and would have to pick up the pieces later. Water was now coming in even around the partially buried front wall of the above-ground portion. I disconnected everything electrical downstairs, set all the boxes stored in the unfinished portion up on blocks near the ground level back door. I walked up to the living room and cried for about two hours.

It rained all Sunday and Monday, too, about 3 1/2 days nonstop, over a foot of rain, total. There was flooding everywhere in my town, but I didn't know it at the time. On Tuesday I called in to take a day off work for cleanup and found out that several people were in the same condition that we were. One guy lived in a house his parents had built 50 years before. It had never had water in the basement until then. His whole basement had flooded too.

The water reached 3/4 of the way up the bottom stair, 5 inches at least. I was too upset to measure it. As it drained out, I cleaned up and dried the basement out with a little submersible pump and the Shop Vac. I sorted out the stuff that had gotten wet and I couldn't save. I aired out the basement, dried out the walls and repainted in the next few weeks. Luckily, the water had receded and been removed so fast that the walls weren't damaged or molded.

During all this, the eternally leaking chimney had spotted the ceiling in my living room too.

This was the only house I was glad to sell. It was bought by the relocation program when I transferred jobs and stayed on the market for a year. I don't know who owns it now. I just checked the precipitation history map, and they got as much rain this week as we did. I bet their basement is damp.

Addendum: The rows are joined and the edge is trimmed and now it's begging for a border. I have no idea what to do. Come on, Bonnie, give us a hint!


Suzan said...

Wow! What a story!! It is raining cats and dogs here and they are saying it will only rain until this afternoon and then clear until tomorrow afternoon when the snow is supposed to start. I would much rather see snow!!

Studio B said...

Yuck ! I dislike flooding! Last year at this time we had gotten 17 inches of rain in four days, the creekbank in front of the house was overflowing into my goat barn and it was pouring off the hill behind us right through the front yard. This year? Nada, not much more than one inch since New Years and the creek is bone dry
I love the mystery quilt! If I could only cut a straight line.....

Tanya said...

Your quilt looks so nice! Now how are you going to quilt that? Do you do machine quilting? Sending it out? It is wonderful!