Friday, September 03, 2021

Solutions or Luck?

I was extraordinarily lucky during Ida. People drowned, cars floated, homes were destroyed, possessions soaked. Raw sewage overflowed into basements.

The cellar in the row house adjacent to mine in Jersey City flooded. Nearby intersections had a foot of water or more.

The key to my house pulling through was the power staying on. I tossed and turned all night here in Burbank, worried because my little apartment back East is on the ground floor, and because I know the basement flooded during Sandy. The power had gone out in 2012, the generator had gone offline, the sump pump stopped working, and the water had overwhelmed everything. Four feet of water had to be pumped out of the basement, according to the previous owner's Twitter I read when I was stalking the house prior to purchase.

Wednesday night, I knew even if the new sump pump worked as the plumber had promised, flooding was still possible. The volume of water was mind-numbing. I imagined the drains being overwhelmed at the front door and the back door, sending the water pouring into my apartment. Or simply, the basement being flooded when the water came in faster than the sump pump could suck it out.

Water did intrude into my basement. That was probably inevitable. But it flowed into the trench drains as intended, made its way to the sump pump, and was pumped away.

I know many people with the same setups where there was just too much water and they flooded even with all the right equipment.

I was annoyed earlier this year when I cleaned out the trench drains and set up better storage in the basement, getting all I could off the floor. I was more than annoyed when I had to fork over $9k to completely redo the backyard to get the water away from the house, filling in the old coal chute and rebuilding the patio. And you know, I don't even want to tell you what a new roof and gutters costs on an 1895 row house with a complicated roof the Addams Family would admire. But it was all worth it. Every penny, every inconvenience.

I'm not done though. This time, my luck held. If the power had gone out and the sump pump stopped running, I'd be singing a different tune right now. One of regret. Even though we don't keep valuables in the basement, no one wants soggy stuff to drag up the stairs and into the trash.

So I guess I'm going to need to invest in a generator of some sort. Last time I looked into it, they were all crazy expensive or limited in some way. I'm told battery-backup sump pumps don't really work that well or last that long, so it has to be a generator. I guess that'll be my next big house purchase.

We live in a time of hundred-year-floods happening every few years, with no potential relief in sight. This isn't going to stop. So I guess I'd better learn more about flood mitigation.

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