Monday, February 18, 2013

Water, water shouldn't be

Water related catastrophies have been a big topic in the news lately. Hurricanes, flooding, ships stranded at sea...and waking up to almost two feet in my basement.

Let me begin by emphasizing that in no way was my disaster as bad as what victims of natural or man-made catastrophies go through, including those of recent Sandy and the stranded cruise ship. My situation could have been so much worse and I'm grateful that it wasn't. No complaints here, but I did want to let all of you know why I disappeared long after January ended, and hopefully save anyone with a sump pump in their basement from dealing with a similar mess.

If you live along the east coast, you probably recall the heavy, flooding rains and high wind storms that blew through that last week of January. I woke up the morning it had tapered off and smelled something funky. It smelled like electrical burn, but we hadn't lost power. All the lights were on, so in my rush to pack lunches and get the kids to the bus, I brushed it off as lingering smells from dinner the night before (note: I'm not that bad of a cook lol). I saw the kids off and was about to hit the writing, but a nagging voice in my head told me to check it out. Fine. I figured maybe one outlet shorted from lightening or something. I started down the basement steps to check the fuse box and...was met with what turned out to be 21 inches of water. The entire basement was a pool.

I didn't touch the water, given the electrical burn smell. No one could, so the power company had to shut power to the house in order for the water clean up crews, plumber do their work. This meant no heat and the wind chill was single digit those few nights. We had no power, no house phone, no internet (all went under), no septic, no heat, and no water (we're on well) for days. The flood had caused our water pump tank to fall over and break. The heating elements on the water heater had shorted and melted. The furnace for the main floor...same thing. We got the heat going upstairs by the second night which helped tremendously. The rest of the week we used jugs of water. I'll spare you the details. We're still cleaning the basement weeks later...but it could have been worse. To make a long story short, we survived.


1. Check your insurance plan. Many have sump pumps listed as an exclusion. Ours denied the claim. In fact, take a sec to read all your plan's exclusions. You might be surprised.
2. Get a quality battery back-up installed if you have a sump pump. It's so worth the cost.
3. Watch your back. These water clean-up companies charge more than plumbers, electricians and shoot, even doctors, combined. Their clients are in desperate situations. Do what you can to avoid the situation.
4. Don't store anything in cardboard boxes. We had a mix of plastic bins and old boxes of things from way back. Take the time to put everything in plastic bins...before it gets wet.

Thankfully, our basement isn't finished, but it is full. We use it as if it's finished...treadmill, toys, bookshelves full of books from our college days, an extra fridge and tons of things in storage. Some of what was lost was sentimental, but again, no complaints because it could have been worse, especially with that electrical burn smell. At least I still have my house and family. We are fine. I really feel for those who have lost everything to natural disasters and fires.

Anyway, I'm getting back in the swing of things. Last week, we had the stomach flu and strep go through the house. Yep, when it rains, it floods (pun intended). I'll try to pop by blogs later this week and I have an interview on Monday with author Nicole Flockton. I hope to see all of you around soon!


  1. I am so sorry for all you've suffered. I'm glad things are settling out, but what a nightmare.

    Hope you're back on your feet soon.

  2. Omigosh! I'm so glad everyone is OK. What happened is bad enough, but you're so right that it could have been unimaginable horror.

  3. Rula ~ Sorry to hear about all your problems. I hope things will get back to normal for you soon. i will also have to look at all the stuff we have stored in our basement and how it is stored. thanks for all the tips.

  4. WOW! I thought you've been quiet. Now I know! That is A LOT of water to have in your basement. I know all about dealing with that mess. I'm so sorry but glad you and everyone are ok.

  5. Thanks everyone. We've only just now, 3 weeks later, reached a point where we can call the place cleaned up. We went through every little thing because we don't want to deal with mold spores and mildew. I need to get more plastic bins!

  6. We're lucky that the odds of our basement being flooded is low, but that doesn't mean it's not impossible.

    Sorry you had to deal with the hassle. *hugs*

  7. Hey Stina, ours were fairly low too, in that we're not in a flood zone or anything like that and our house is raised on a small hill. But with the nature of underground water/rain here, everyone has a sump pump to take underground water away from the house. Ours broke so all the water percolated up into the house, esp with the ground saturated from storms.

    I'm just glad it wasn't our septic system failing!!

  8. Sorry about your flooding, Rula! Glad you seem to have it under control now.

  9. Thanks, Rogenna! It's so much better now.