The first time my family home flooded was the day I was born. I wisely stayed at St. Anne’s Hospital and was spared the sight of our dog clinging to a floating table in the basement.
Thirty years later, we had a minor flood on Thomas Street. We saved the basement carpet by placing the kids’ blocks under it and running a fan.
Then came the storm of June 23. Our house on Beloit had never flooded in 28 years but when I saw the backyard submerged I decided to check the basement. Imagine the sinking feeling of seeing water covering the carpet and lapping at the drywall.
Still, we were very fortunate compared to our neighbors. They lost water heaters, furnaces, washers and dryers and some had to contend with sludge. Mercifully, two of my heroic neighbors cleared the sewer grate and the water in my basement receded.
Then we went to work with towels and a wet vac. While my son vacuumed, I stomped on towels to soak up the water. I was sopping it up as if someone had spilled a cup of coffee. We kept at it until midnight.
By the next day, we had the carpet fairly dry. But, lurking beneath it was thick padding, totally soaked. I decided towels weren’t going to do it. So, I found the kids’ blocks, put them under the pad and started a fan running.
Then a Forest Park friend told me that I didn’t have a decorating problem – I had a health problem. He urged me to tear out the carpeting, clean the floor with bleach, buy a dehumidifier and pray that mold wouldn’t grow.
My friend and I also discussed possible causes of the flooding. Was global warming at the root of these violent storms? Were the new larger sewers on Harvard contributing to the problem? Isn’t the Deep Tunnel finished yet?
I went home – possessed. We ripped up the padding, dried the carpeting overnight on the back yard fence and swished around so much bleach; we had exhaust fans going for days. During this ordeal, we kept our yelling to a minimum, saving the really harsh words for moving heavy furniture.
I then consulted a high school classmate, who is an expert on mold. I think he was doing mold research back then by wearing the same checked sport coat to school for four years. He approved of the measures we were taking and added that we should wipe down the baseboards with rubbing alcohol.
Mold or no mold our basement went from being the best room in our house to suddenly being the worst, but at least it smells better.
All I know is the next time it rains like it did on June 23, I’m taking refuge at St. Anne’s. It’s a psychiatric hospital now.