Friday, May 14, 2010

"I think we are going to lose the basement!"

About 5am yesterday morning we heard the house alarm go off:


It had poured (and was still pouring) rain all night. Later we'd learn that nearly 4 inches had fallen in about 5 hours, about a month of May's worth of water for Chicago-land. Our sump pump was JUST keeping up, and the high water alarm told us that the backup was also about to kick in.

John went into full Basement Rescue mode. He ran outside in the downpour and lightning to make sure the ejector pump hose was well away from the house (it turned out the mowers had moved it closer).  Then he sat and stared at the pump and started telling me to pray it stopped raining. We estimated the water was flowing in at a rate of about 5 gallons a minute, entirely too much for even the 3/4 hp pump to drain completely, so it the water just sat 6 inches from the top of the sump pit, threatening to overflow.

Did I mention my husband was scheduled to leave town at 10am?

Did I mentioned I threatened to divorce my husband if he left town at 10am?

My neighbor's backyard was a raging river of water streaming directly towards their house. All the home north of them in the subdivision were uphill from them. All their runoff was running directly towards my neighbor's house. It could have been worse for us, but our stress was palpable.

By 8am the rain had stopped, but the sump was still running every twenty seconds. By 10am it looked like everything was going to be OK. The rain had definitely cleared and the sump was actually making progress and the water was below the high water level sensor. John decided it was OK to head off to Dayton and I decided to head to the office.

Cue the foreshadowing music....

The second I sat at my desk at work, the honest to God SECOND I sat down, I got a text message to my phone. The house was paging me. The power was OUT.

The power was out??  We've lived here for 5 years and the power has blinked once or twice in all that time. All of our utilities are buried underground and we are close to the sub station. We never lose power.  Except we did. Today, when everyone and their cousin was relying on sump pumps to keep their homes from flooding.

Back we flew. John brought his brother, who was going to Dayton with him. They called their friend Chuck and borrowed his gas generator. My neighbors were jumping into cars and heading to Home Depot to grab a pump. Meanwhile our battery backup pump was only barely holding it's own. It's a lower power pump than the main pump, and the water was still pouring into the sump pit like a river.

Despite my initial fear that we were going to blow up the house or electrocute ourselves, we got the generator running. I should note both my husband and his brother are electrical engineers but I am pretty sure this was their first generator experience. When I heard them speaking engineering-ese about capacities of extension cords and watts and volts and fuses I knew they were in their element. If they were boy scouts (which they were) I'd have given them a badge!

After two HOURS the power went back on and has stayed on since. The pump is still churning, we are still dry, and I am very very tired!


Let's Find H-Man A Wife said...

Holy smoke. Our backyard back where the poor folks live had no such problem. In fact, we were in whiffle ball mode the whole night. I told you once and I told you twice, you should have never moved.

Marie said...

At the old house we sat high on the hill and YOUR yard flooded. You can be in denial but I have seen your mud.

We'll be ok. We're having a gravity drain installed that will pull all the water away from our house to the retention pond behind us.

William's cub scout leader nearly lost her house over by Milton. She lives directly across from a pond that overflowed. Her entire home was literally surrounded by water. It's the village's fault for insufficient pipe capacity to contain the run off, but they don't have the money to repair it. I told her to sue them. They'll find the money.

PS: have the people behind you started raising their own livestock. Cause it's only a matter of time!


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