Compared to some of our neighbors, we made it through the storm in really good shape. I was returning from Mariottsville in the CR-V packed with a full-size toolchest and a 25 gallon compressor I’d bought from Bennett when the first rain started to fall, around 3:30. By 4:15 I was in the driveway waiting for the rain to slack off so that I could run inside for an umbrella. The girls were over at Christi and Glen’s house waiting for me to pick them up, so I went back out in the Accord to get them. Getting to their house was a little dicey. The roads were beginning to flood, but there was enough road for me to share with oncoming traffic.
On the way home things were much worse. I took the higher route home, preferring to avoid the hills of Edmondson Road, and turned on to a side street to get to Frederick Road. By the time we were able to turn on to Main Street there was 3 feet of rushing water coming at us, with a narrow lane at the center the only thing between us and home. We waited a minute for an oncoming car to pass, I said a silent prayer, and then hit the gas. Wading through the water I felt the wheels slip here and there but we kept moving and made it to the other side where the hill started climbing again.
At home we ran inside with umbrellas and dried off, but it was when I peeked into the basement that I knew our plans for going to an evening party were sunk: we had 4″ of standing water in the basement. When I went out to the garage to get the Shop-Vac I noticed that the egress stairwell to the basement was flooded to the top, meaning we had 3′ of water pushing against the basement door.
Jen started vacuuming downstairs while I struggled with a shit Harbor Freight pump I use to chill wort; it failed and burned itself out. By this point I was soaking wet and the rain was only getting harder; there were rivers of water running past our house into a lake at the bottom corner of our property. I grabbed some scrap lumber from the garage and pounded a diversionary wall into the soil, directing water past the concrete lip of the basement stairs. Then I grabbed a five-gallon bucket, jumped in the pit, and started bailing it out.
Inside, Jen was suctioning up water and pouring it into the shop sink, praying that our drain wouldn’t clog and that sewage wouldn’t back up on us. I’d done some light cleaning on Saturday so we didn’t have a ton of stuff on the floor to get wet, but we did lose some boxes and a roll of paper and other assorted items. I did a bunch of waterproofing down there years ago, and since we replaced the back gutters, the basement has been relatively dry. But we’ve learned from years past that using plastic tubs on metal racks is the best way to store anything down there, especially on days like this.
Once I got the stairwell bailed out, I went inside and we spent the next two hours bailing and mopping. The rain slacked off at about 7PM, and the stairwell started draining faster than water was coming in, so we all took showers and had some warm dinner in front of the final Harry Potter movie.
The next morning we assessed the damage. I got our FIOS router reset and running but had to swap out our ethernet switch for a spare. Apparently it got fried along with our Airport Base Station, the HDMI switcher on our cable box, and maybe even our cable box itself. We enjoyed power and internet up until about 2PM when the transformer in the back of our lot blew, taking our power out and that of the block behind us. My neighbor wheeled over his generator and we hooked it up to the fridge, saving our food from certain ruin. That clattered in the backyard through the evening until about 1AM this morning when the power came back up.
So, lessons learned: I’ve been putting off the purchase of a generator for years, mostly because our once-twitchy transformer was replaced and our power has been relatively stable since about Finn’s birth. It’ll sit in the back corner of the garage and take up space, but it’s time I invested in one. I need to buy a submersible pool pump for those pleasant afternoons when water is trickling under the basement door. And I’m going to have to build a taller lip around the edge of the basement stairs to prevent the Patapsco River from sinking our house.