Walking up the road with two dogs this morning. The sky was grey, and the air felt damp. The river seemed to be gathering anger.
Being ill prepared is not an unusual situation to find myself in. What do I know about Spring flooding, and rising water levels on a mighty river?
Apparently, not even a lit bit enough. I bought a house, built on the sand, because I had always wanted to live near a body of water, and enjoy all that it had to offer, and so I live very near the Ottawa River. It’s a huge river, and some mornings it’s as calm and serene as glass, but some days it flows with a fury, and sloshing intensity, that makes me inhale with concern.
Yesterday morning was one of those days.
I woke up to listen keenly as to whether my sump pumps were still whirring in the basement. I had three going, but one submersible one kicked the bucket just the other day. Since we have had some intense rainfalls, my first thought was to peer down my stairs, into my open basement, to hope against hope that there was no water down there.
I tip toed in my fuzzy white slippers to the edge of the stairs.. praying silently, that all would be ok, and gasped, as I saw ponds of water lying dormant below.
I had been instructed to never enter a basement with water in it, due to risk of electrocution.
What to do… who to call, what on God’s green earth am I doing?.. I tried to calm myself down, but inwardly, I berated myself for thinking that I could handle being a homeowner on my own.. What was I thinking? There is so much that I don’t know…
I decided I would call the “Lighthouse Cafe,” which is located right next door to me.
A friendly gal answered the phone, which in and of itself is wonderful. I asked if they had taken on water? The gal’s response was,” I’m afraid to look in our crawl space.”
I so get that… if you don’t look.. you don’t have to know, and become responsible… because having to take responsibility over a situation like this can scare everything out of you, and I found myself choking down the lump in my throat ….as my breathing became erratic.
I asked if she could recommend an electrician, or a plumber. Her advice was to inquire on the Constance Bay Face book page for recommendations, and see who was recommended the most. This made good sense to me..
I remembered that I had used a plumber in the fall for some issues, so not even thinking that it was only 7 am, I called him. He answered straight away with a groggy good morning, after clearing his throat.
I let him know if my situation, and he promised to drive 30 minutes to pick up a heavy duty sump pump from a customer, then drive the 30 minutes back, and be at my house by 8:45.
Ok… breathing.. breathing..
Almost immediately…there was a knock on my door.. well that was fast…
Instead of my expected plumber, there stood my neighbor from across the street, hair a tad disheveled, and carrying in his hand a sump pump. He was wearing his black rubber boots, and he said,
“ I’ve come to help you.”
” Can we go downstairs?.. is it safe,” I inquired?
” Yup.. just wear your rubber boots.. you will be fine.”
I grabbed my turquoise, but still practical “ Isle Jacobsen-Hornbaek,” boots, and followed him, as he marched ahead of me towards the wetlands of the basement .
A girl can be practical, and colorful all at the same time can’t she?… Don’t laugh… they comfort me.
Its the best feeling when a person takes control of your seemingly out of control situation, and advises, and instructs you of what needs to be done, because you are in way over your head in more words than one.
He let me know that my sump pumps were not keeping up with the steady influx of water, and that things would only get worse. He explained about how when we are built on the sand, as the river rises, so does the water.. it wants to go somewhere, so it finds its way into an open and available spot.. and in this case it’s my basement.
I could see that the water was seeping in cracks around the base of the walls, and forming ponds. I’ve never experienced anything like this. He said that the foundation of my house is literally like sandbags protecting my house, but when there is Spring runoff, ice melting, combined with hardy rainfalls, the ground can’t keep up, and flooding happens .
He took control , and reassured me, in such a kind way, that as long as I kept up with the sump pumps , I would be ok in a few weeks.
He said, to call, and come over anytime, and ask for help.
Asking for help in life is so key.. Often I wait to ask.. I don’t want to be a bother.. there is pride.. I want to figure it out for myself… but then I think of the repercussions of going into a situation inexperienced, and pride gets a giant flush down the toilet…
There was another knock on the door.. and there stood my plumber, like a superhero, in ballcap, plaid jacket, and hunting type rubber boots. He was carrying what looked to be a very well used and slightly rusted looking sump pump.
As I followed him downstairs, he said,
“ wait till I get this pump hooked up, it really hauls the water out.”
He worked tirelessly throughout the day, pondering out loud, and explaining what he was doing as he worked. I received a giant tutorial, and He received breakfast and lunch. At first he declined offers of food, but I told him I cook and clean when I’m anxious… and he graciously accepted after that.
He installed the heavy duty sump pump, and thus far it’s been keeping up.
My friend Sue arrived the next morning with a Starbucks coffee, and her wet vac to try and move some water from my basement. As if that wasn’t enough, she brought the dogs treats, and these cool disposable units that you sit out after a flood, and they absorb dampness from the air… oh, and she brought me a light up rubber ducky named “ Floody,” for my basement. This girl has my same wacky sense of humor. Humor is so useful when dealing with the unexpected and harsh things in life.. I like to laugh, when there is nothing funny about a situation.. it helps me cope.
Sue says she had thought of bringing a lifeguard chair for my basement.. Humor during difficult situations is extremely helpful, and a great de stressor. She was so kind and thoughtful, and she made me giggle a lot.
The hose had somehow not come along with the wet vac, so Sue called her husband, who not only drove 20 minutes over to bring it to us, but then stayed and helped vacume … so awesome.
Sue is a customer of mine, and also increasingly, a good friend, who also voluntarily takes my dogs for walks during the week.. People can really rock this planet.
It became apparent with the increased heavy rainfall that I would need a generator. I found one I’ve at Lowe’s, and tried to extradite it from my car..it’s a heavy thing turns out.
My same neighbor came over, and assisted me, as I learned how to put the machine together..just kind.
His wife came over too, and kindly offered sandwiches and soup for lunch. The abundance of grace and good will that I’m experiencing in this emotional and fragile situation is over the top.
When I went to pick up sandbags the other day, there were tons of youth sitting by this huge pile of sand , in the rain tirelessly loading up bags. Mennonite girls, clad in dresses with soft floral patterns, dainty white head coverings, and black rubber boots assisted. They looked at me with thoughtful and gentle expressions, which made tears spilled from my eyes, as I thanked them.
Strangers helping strangers ….is, and will always be, the best of humanity.
I asked my sons today, “ why cant we always be this kind to one another?”
The army arrived to assist us here in Constance Bay. Young men digging in, and delivering, and just generally making you feel safe and cared for.
It is very strange to look out your front door, and see the army across the street. It feels as if I’m in the Twilight Zone.
I drove around town with the dogs, and whatever possessions I could fit into my car, and more tears were cried, for the unexpected circumstances that I found overwhelming.
Colleagues and friends at work, offered up bedrooms in their homes for me to stay. Such a rich blessing, and so much support.
As more water seeps in, and more rain threatening to come, the situation seems very dire. I don’t know if I will lose my house. I don’t know how much damage there is, but there are things I do know.
Kindness is always a good idea..the way that people and community come together to volunteer, and lift one another up during tragic , and unpredicted circumstances… bringing out the absolute best in people… is so inspiring.