All Jody and I were doing was watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation on our laptop last night. Captain Jean-Luc Picard was saying “Make it so” a lot. It was fun. I was vaguely aware that it had started raining, but so what? No problemo. As Jean-Luc and friends continued to battle the forces of evil in the universe, the vague morphed into the absolute. The drops were beating on our home.
Neal, a friend who’s living with us, came by to say, rather anxiously, that the water in our sump pump hole was rising. I let Jody deal with the Starship Enterprise and went downstairs. This was about 10:30. Our main sump pump and the backup one were going full tilt. I knew we had a few 10-gallon pails so I gathered them up, took a small red container, and started bailing water out of the hole. Sooner than I had hoped, they were full, and the holey water was continuing its upward journey. Still, calm was I. We have an four-foot-high garbage can in the basement which we use to store flour, rice and the like. I gently removed the contents and plunked the can down beside the sump hole. Slowly, slowly, I dipped my red friend into the water and deposited the results in the can. No sooner said than done – the plastic brute was full to the rim … and the sump water was only a foot down from the level of the floor.
Okay, so now someone I know developed a slightly elevated heart beat. I walked briskly through the basement and climbed the stairs into the garage, where I hoisted the super-industrial-sized can which we roll out to the road once a week. Semi-ran downstairs and continued bailing. Looked up at the tiny window and saw water streaming down from it, from shelf to shelf and then puddling on the floor. Back to the sump hole – eight inches from Defcon One.
Well, what can I say about my brain? Neal asked me about the portable submersible pump we had, and I had completely forgotten about it, choosing instead the “no cheese down that tunnel” route of continued container finding and inspired bailing. I found the pump and Neal went in search of a long hose. Soon we were all attached and had run the hose up the garage stairs and out onto the driveway. So there were now three pumps in the hole. To my horror, the water kept rising. I looked up at the window and saw that the water level was halfway up it. And slow tides were spreading out on the floor, leaking from our foundation in several spots.
So much for decorum – I ran up the stairs, onto the driveway, and around to the backyard, where I found our big green cart for garden debris and two flexible plastic tubs. Like a runaway shopping cart driver, I plunged back to the house, somehow got the cart next to the hole, and bailed anew. One inch below the floor … and then level. Refusing to go with the flow, I kept finding space among the three pumps for my little red pail to fit, and gave ‘er. Neal brought two more containers. I looked around … and time stopped. I had a moment of amused astonishment within the panic. I saw all these cans, pails and carts surrounding me, each brimming with water. The line on the window was two thirds up. And peace drifted down upon me.
Maybe a minute after every single container we could find was full, I looked down at the hole and saw that the liquid had dropped half an inch below the floor. By grace we are saved.
The level continued its slow decline, and soon Neal and I could put the portable pump into the pool residing in our rolling garbage can, gradually sucking it dry, before moving to the other vessels. We set to with a wet-dry Shop-Vac and a mop, sucking up water, plunging the pump in, sucking some more, pumping some more, getting cardboard boxes off the floor, unplugging electronics, running around like crazy men.
We finished, in a manner of speaking, at 1:00 am. Really not much damage – to our possessions, that is. And actually no real damage to our souls. We imperfect human beings did all that we could. It was enough. Good for us.