Friday, August 24, 2007

Bonus Bone: Surviving the Storm

In real estate, it's called the "garden level." That sounds so lovely and serene but I live there and, around here, we know it as the basement.

Normally, it's fine. I have HUGE windows (for a "garden" unit) and it always stays nice and cool in the summertime. When it storms, however, with the pounding rain and wind, that usually ruins the garden picnic.

If you're in Chicago, you know that it stormed somethin' fierce yesterday. Tornado sirens were blaring and the wind was picking up things it normally never thought to touch. Due to the weather, I was able to leave work 2 hours early because the power blinked out. Normally, this would be fun and exciting but, living in the basement, I knew my first stop was home.

My building is, shall we say, "drain challenged" so any rainstorm is reason enough to worry. But yesterday was no regular storm.

a Neighbor's Tree, broken and blocking the entire street

Once I got off the train and started walking home, I felt like turning around. Tree wait, whole trees littered the sidewalk. Entire streets were flooded to the point that curbs no longer existed. I walked slowly, my mouth gaping at the destruction, toward my sub-level, surely water-logged abode.

For whatever supernatural reason, I got home and my house was fine. I grabbed my camera and ran back out to snap a few shots (see above). As I was out, marveling at the downed trees and uplifted satellite dishes, the rain began to pound down once again. Even though I was only a few blocks away from my house, I got home just in time to prevent a flood.

Since I have lived in the basement for about 4 years, I know what to watch for. I jogged home in the unnaturally heavy rain, drenched in mere seconds, and began scraping up small piles of leaves, pulling off drain covers, and jarring the sewer manhole covers open so that the rainwater could drain - anywhere - instead of into my house.

I was out there for about an hour. Soaked to my skivvies, I cleared the drains, I used a broom to sweep the water toward the drains and away from my door. Obviously, this is not a fail-safe solution. If I hadn't have gotten out of work early, my unit, as well as two of my neighbors' units, would have surely flooded. My building's got some work to do, I know this. But I, alone with a broom, and the past experience of having lived through this before, was able to prevent all flooding trauma. Believe me, I should be proud of this.

Our roof, however, did not enter my mind. And it, the poor thing, was not so lucky.

Our roof, 8/23/07

The thing peeled back like a sardine can. I do feel bad for the tenant on the third floor because he's surely seeing a little bit of King Neptune's wrath right now. However, in the past, when the drains have blocked up, and the water's built up to calf-level, I don't think my third-floor neighbor has ever ventured down to help me out.

King Neptune, in your watery fury, please understand that I realize your power. I see your strength. I honor and respect you. But if you insist on testing me, if you try to push me into subservience...

I say, "Bring it."

For these reasons, I, Cardboard, declare this a Design Boner.


B said...

I'm glad you made it out OK! I just bought a duplex-down condo last summer, and I was shuddering as I walked past downed trees on my way home. Luckily, we didn't have any issues either, but I did notice something that lookes suspiciously like roof on our sidewalk. I'll have to check that out tonight.

Ana Herda said...

Glad you're ok and you avoided a disaster. I also live in a basement and know the panic that sets in during heavy rains.

Leah said...

So glad to hear that you're OK and that your efforts kept the water out of your apartment!

But that roof -- oy!


Anonymous said...

I love the photo of your defiance of Neptune. Awesome.