The Flood Hits Home

Sep 16, 2013 by

The Flood Hits Home

I was going to get my task list organized yesterday, but the Universe had different plans for me. We live in Broomfield, Colorado, which is about halfway between Boulder and Denver. Unless you live under a rock, you know that Colorado has been hit with disaster-level flooding for the past week. It didn't affect us here in Broomfield until yesterday, when a torrential rainstorm hit. I went though the house checking all the windows, then went down to the basement.

Our block of houses is at the bottom of a hill. So we get not only our rain, but the runoff from the houses above us. We've had a lot of work done on our yard to re-grade and divert water to the drainage channels between the houses. But when I went downstairs yesterday I saw standing water in two of the window wells, and the level was rising. Last year we had 3' drainage pits filled with river rock dug into the window wells. But there was so much water, and the water table was already so high from a week of rain, that they couldn't handle it.

I called for Star (that's my wife and business partner, by the way) and we started putting down towels on the window sills and on the floor. The water was now above the sill and leaking through. We got every bucket and waste basket in the house and put them under the leaks. I dragged in a big plastic tub from the garage and put a plastic tube from one of the major leaks into the tub. The water level was now 6" high in the window, and starting to overflow the second well.

We have vertical windows, so I was able to open the window a couple of inches and let water flow into a bucket. We ran a bucket brigade, running buckets into the bathroom and pouring them down the toilet or shower drain. I don't know how long we worked because I didn't check the time. For some reason that wasn't on my mind. It was at least an hour, maybe an hour and a half, before the rain slowed and the water level started to do down.

We wring the towels out and ran two loads through the washer and dryer to clean them. I've got a dehumidifier running in the basement and a fan pointed at the floor to get things dried out. We've had minor leaks from the window wells before, which is why I had a dehumidifier ready (and why we had the drainage pits dug). This is not an appliance that you normally need in Colorado! None of the stores carry them here, so I had to order one online.

Whether or not you believe in climate change, or whether you think it's man-made or part of a natural cycle, it's undeniable that there is more and more severe weather around the world. Mexico is currently getting hit by hurricanes on both coasts. And I could go on about other mega-disasters, but you all know about them. Unless you're living under that rock. So best to be prepared. I bet Home Depot stars carrying dehumidifiers in Colorado now.

I should have bought two. I should have had the drainage pits dug eight feet deep. But what I'm going to do in the short term is look into having sump pumps installed in the two that were flooding. (There are two others in the basement, but they were fine.) And long term, I'm going to have the window wells re-done. We've got standard corrugated steel linings. Part of the problem yesterday was that water was hitting the house and pouring in though the sides of the wells. So I want to have stone wells put in, cemented to the foundation. And have plastic covers installed over them. (But I'll keep the sump pumps. Belts and suspenders.)

Looking out the window as I write this I see blue sky for the first time in days. We're very lucky to have only had a couple of hours of panic and hard work. It would have been much worse if I hadn't gone down to check the windows. Our basement would have been flooded. All we have is a soggy rug and sore backs.

But my thoughts are with the people in Boulder, in Lyons, in Estes Park, in Longmont, in Jamestown, in all the areas that were affected. People who lost their homes, their cars... and some, their lives. Cities devastated. Roads destroyed. We used to live in Boulder. It's frightening to think of what's been happening there.

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