(Update: apologies to the feed-readers, I keep findin' spelling and punctuation errors to fix).
And so it did -- but not merely a flood, never so easy as that.
But let me start at the beginning; the sun set Friday with a more than certain chance of thunderstorms, high winds and heavy rains. It being the week between paychecks for me (and the weeks between for Miss Tam, her various ventures paying off less frequently than my fixing of stardrives), I'd made a quick run to Thai Cafe Broadripple for tasty, affordable dinner (btw, go there if you're in town, the food is wondrous and the owner's One Of Us) and got back not too long before the rain.
And what a storm! The sky strobed, lit more often than dark; the rain absolutely roared down in solid walls of water, shaking the ground, the street and then the sidewalk flooded and ran with a visible current; it poured, the lights flicker and steadied, the rain would slacken and resume, the wind sent the trees cage-dancing on their roots, tossed their limbs, the lights dimmed... And eventually, it slowed and we stopped standing on the front porch, gawping at the Nature's Wonders like goldfish.
I thought about the laundry I hadn't done and it ocurred to me to wonder how much water was in the basement. It does leak a bit, especially after heavy rainfall. Clomp through the house, basement door, not smellin' so nice, do I hear water drippin', lightswitch, click-- Oh, my.
A puddle of thick, vile-scented, grey-brown goop fills the center of the floor; over against the wall, the old, square laundry sink is brim-full of nastiness and dripping over, the red wool blanket I'd folded there soaked grey; clear water is running in from at least one far corner. The rain has stopped but the sewer backup isn't stopping.
Tam and I rescued the few things that were in danger of being flooded out and moved others farther away. I looked around for bleach, found none and made An Executive Decision.
Note to self: ease up on the Executive Decisions, especially after a long and stressful day.
"I'll get over the the 24-Hour Supermarket and pick up some bleach'n'stuff so we can at least disinfect this awfulness some," I announce.
"Is that a good idea?" Tam asks; she'll have cause to remind me of this query later but will refrain.
"Sure. Storm's over, it's not that far."
...So I hop into the Hot Needle Of Inquiry II, brolly in hand and a bigger flashlight than usual in my purse, and trundle myself off storewards. H'mm. Lotta limbs down. Out onto the major street -- a way lot of limbs down. Standin' water along the curbs here, better check the radio, tune, fumble... The car slows. And there are splashy noises.
Miss Alert peers out at the vast puddle covering the street, decides she's past the halfway point and keeps goin'. The car staggers a bit and lurches out. This would have been a good place to stop, but did I?
Oh, hells no. Excelsior! I muddle through. And thus another half mile, another deeply flooded section of road upon which I realize about a third of the way in I Am A Gone Goose, downshift, laboriously chug my way forward to a parking lot, out and up among a handful of other cars at an awkward angle, stopped by one of those concrete parking-space stoppers that must have been shifted in a heavy current.
It's high (but not dry) now and I'm blocking any other dizzy optimists seeking relief, so after a quick call home to admit to being stuck ("The lights just went out," Tam reports, "and I have got to get some sleep if I'm going to work the gun show tomorrow."), I hop out, squat inelegantly down, and manage to lug the heavy thing over far enough to get my little car past to a higher spot and leave room for others. It starts to rain again and I end up thoroughly soaked. I grab my umbrella withal and take a quite look around. Strolling towards the back of the building I found myself in front of and past yet another strandee, the driver asks out her open window, "Y'okay?"
"Yep. I'm lookin' to see if there's a way down to the big parkin' lot," I say
"I drove over that way but I couldn't tell, the water is so high."
I walked on over and read a pull-out in the lay of the blacktop. Sure enough, the new waters were lapping along the very edge of the lot. The crown of the street is under water and there's a discernible current. The flashlight reveals at least two feet of very clear water at the lot exit and I'm not eager to check for depth with my hand.
Walked back by the friendly motorist, telling her, "There's an exit but the water's way high." Got back to my car and looked in the direction I'd been headin'. That river part of tthe street runs for at least another block and folks on the patio of a bar across the way are cheerin' at SUVs that attempt the fording; most give up and pull off to higher parking lots on each side, accompanied by derisive laughter. A couple of blocks away, the Steak'N'Shake is all lit up and, soaked as I am, looks inviting. Back the way I'd come, the water over the road is even higher and a couple of sedans are halted right out in it, blinkers on and faint mists of steam rising. Looks like it's going to be a long, wet slog if I'm to sleep in my own bed tonight.
Might as well have a cuppa' first. The rain's been alternating drizzle and serious stuff but lightning flashes to the North and West are promising another go-round. I set my course and slog out, though parking lots and along high grassy berms.
A couple of cups of coffee, an investigation of the games I'd never noticed before on my celphone and ninety minutes later, another bit of storm has come and gone, this one with beautifully limned lightning strikes out the diner's big windows. They'd be prettier without the lights and compressors dimmin' an' slowing each time, I think. Paid my bill and headed out. Every few minutes, a fire truck or ambulance or police car goes screaming and blinking up the cross street; I notice it but don't think much of it. These things happen when it storms.
Squishing back to my car, a guy wades over from the bar, retrieves a bicycle leaned against the fence and carries it past me, sayin' "Some weather, lady!" as he goes by. Yeah, some weather all right.
I checked the exit I'd scouted earlier. That street's mostly clear now, maybe a foot of water at the gutters, looks clear down into the big lot and out to the cross street. The way I came in is still flooded, deep. Told my friend, who opts to stay put. Got back into my car and tried.
Made it, car's not too happy, out onto the cross street and it's not got much power; I'm not going to try for the supermarket. Another fire truck clangs by as I get out of the way; up a half-mile, there's a lot of red blue and white lights. Closer still, an IMPD cruiser sits across the road, tired-lookin' officer waving me to turn aside; I pull a U through a scary-deep patch of water and head back. Car's smellin' funny and has even less power. Uh-oh.
Into a different bar's lot, pop the hood. Huh. No smell, nothing too much out of place. Sat and thought, started up and headed back to the street I came across on. Turned onto it, then into the parking lot across from where I had been, parked. Water's a lot lower, still too high, but it looks as if on this side I can bypass it through connected parking lots, braving only one short, shallow bit. There's still the new-made pond farther down the road, but hey, I'd be that much closer to home and the car seems a bit happier. Maybe.
Got back in and tried, made it, bypassed the deeps (which had by then taken a third victim and those cars are gonna need drained out after). My car's still pretty puny and I don't push it. Stop sign. The next puddle. Stopped. Looked. Thought. --Damage, if any, is done; so I chanced and won through (much shallower now) and only had to dodge a cover of fallen limbs the rest of the way home.
Lights still out. Had to park in back and walk around, came in the front door, "Tam, it's me."
"Whazza? Oh, okayyyyyzzezzzzz," and back asleep.
I stumbled off to my own bed and fell like a bat into a cave, stirring not and oblivious until I woke to sounds of sudden motion and a semi-stifled "Shsssst!" from the next room. Looked at the clock, nothing. Power's still off. Checked my wristwatch: Tam had about a half-hour to get civilized and get to the gun show, I thought, and fell back to sleep.
* * * * * * * *
Tam woke me on her way out and together we got the garage door open (easier than we expected). I got cleaned up hastily and headed out to the store (remember the basement? I checked. The yeggggh level is down but what's left behind is.... Shuddersome). Power still out.
And still out around the neighborhood. Including traffic lights. Ah, but my car is running better.
I got honked at and nearly rear-ended by a genius who has figured out that when the stoplights are out, she has the right-of-way. Er, no. A unlit stoplight is a four-way stop. Always. Whenever. And this particular hand-gesture is, I believe, widely known and well-understood here in the States, ya witling.
Funny, she seemed to do the right thing at the next light, perhaps because I managed it somewhat obviously. Yes, what a triumph, I have successfully manipulated an idiot! Well, it's the small things that we cherish, no?
Karma's stone mean: my neighborhood supermarket is also clean out of Mr. Tesla's electric fluid an' has a biggo CLOSED Sorry sign on the door. Onward to the 24-Hour Wondermart, dark lights all the way but -- Wondermart indeed! -- they have not been disAMORCed. (A genny? Yes, says the checker, but it's not running). Bleach, buckets and this and that later, I made my way back home, still dodging downed limbs. Really shoulda bought vinegar, too.
Three hours of sloshing, mopping, carrying, feeling dizzy and goin' for air, over and and over again, the basement floor has been mostly mopped down with 25% bleach water, the semi-solids picked up, its been rinsed and washed down with 10% vinegar water and the power is still out. I can't tell if the pilot's lit on the water heater or not; it shuts off the gas if it goes out. Even with windows, it's dark down there.
Gave up on the gun show and took a nap. The lights came back on once and went out, came back on again an hour later and that was an hour ago. They've gone out once while I was writing, for a minute or so. Power & Light says, "Don't count on havin' power for sure 'til late Monday. " They had 70K users down after the storm went through and have about half of them -- the easy half -- back on. One of my neighbors up the alley has their power drop down with most of a tree on it; that was probably what caused the first up-and-down when P&L got our part of the grid back up but I have not gone back to look. Sirens still wail in the distance every couple of minutes.
P.S.: As I was mopping up, well, let's not think about just what, I found a half-full gallon container of bleach tucked into a dark corner. Oh yeah.
So that's how my weekend's gone. How's yours?
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
6 months ago