First things first: yours truly did not escape Sunday morning’s deluge unscathed. Neither did the Daily Item‘s Munroe Street offices.
And nor did a whole lot of other people in Lynn and Peabody. We’re all in the same boat, so to speak.
We have a sump pump in our house that, while old and needs to be turned off manually, works like a charm. The house is built on a ledge, so when it rains hard enough, and the wind is blowing the right way, water will pool in our front yard and sink into the basement — whereupon the sump pump springs into action and carries it away before it can do damage.
Then, it’ll sit and whir until someone goes down the cellar and disengages it. It’s probably time for a new one, but you know how that goes. The only time you ever think about it is when you’re in the middle of a flood. And then when you go to the hardware store in a panic, you get “Gee, sorry, we just sold the last one 15 minutes ago.” It’s no different than with snow. The worst time to buy a snowblower is right before a big storm’s supposed to hit.
What happened to us Sunday is more a case of an improbable chain reaction than anything structurally wrong with our house.
For starters, there was the rain itself. We had eight inches of it in three or four hours, a comparatively short period of time. When you consider that a heavy rainstorm generally yields .30 inches per hour (Google is your friend), you have some idea of what happened Sunday. From the window of our den, we could see that the force of it disassembled the downspout at the point where it was riveted to the gutter. So instead of the water being carried down the spout and out onto the lawn, via a splash guard, it poured straight down from the roof and onto a brick walkway.
When we did our spring pick-up a couple of months ago, there were so many leaves on the lawn next to that walkway that all the grass died. What’s left has the consistency of a pool table, which meant that the water from the gushing gutters just rolled like a small stream right over that lawn and onto our patio, which, while it has a roof over it, is open otherwise.
So, the water just hopped over a very low retaining wall and pooled onto the brick floor of the patio.
The patio has furniture. But because it’s open to the elements, leaves always seem to end up in there, and for whatever reason, we hadn’t cleaned them all out.
We quickly learned the concept of how beavers build dams. The combination of leaves and furniture caused all the water from the river that had rushed onto the patio to pool. Eventually it all backed up, seeped under the door to our basement, and four inches of it (or thereabouts) ended up sitting stationary on the cellar floor. Worse, because none of the water reached the well where our pump is located, we had no indication that anything was wrong until my wife, Linda, went downstairs to investigate.
We hadn’t deduced any of the aforementioned. All we saw was water, and we freaked.
However, we finally figured out we could, as they used to say in westerns, cut the water off at the pass. We moved what we could move, and then threw the leaves out onto the lawn on the other side of the patio. And once we did that, it was amazing how quickly the water found its natural path and flowed away from the house. Better still, once that water began flowing, so, too, did the pool that was in the basement. It reversed course, went out the door, onto the patio, and then onto the lawn. Not all of it, of course, but it made cleaning up a bit more manageable.
When you compare this to what happened to other people in the city, I’d say we got off pretty lightly. Still, the sight of water sloshing around inside your house is always unsettling.
At least now we know how the water flows, so we’ll know better next time (and may there not be a next time!)
The other thing to take from this is that we got unprecedented rain — the type of a storm we usually only see on news footage after a hurricane or a three-day deluge along the Mississippi. It seems silly, in light of that, to blame the city for whatever problems hit the area.
We ought to know by now that nature always wins.