Thursday, April 06, 2017

Water in the Basement, April 6, 2017

It's been years since I had to break out the pumps and hoses, but the time has come again.

The winter storm dubbed "Stella" by the folks at the Weather Channel dumped over two feet of snow on us between March 14th and 15th. The snow finally melted away by March 30th, leaving the ground a soggy mess and the Susquehanna running high. Today a storm system that has done brutal damage across the country swept into Northeastern Pennsylvania, pounding down rain for hours. (This is in addition to a surprise pop-up storm that delivered a brief but intense downpour on April 4th.)

I stepped out of the house around 2:00 this afternoon to run some errands. The rain was coming down hard, and already water was ponding on the lawn.  The storm drains were doing their job keeping the streets of Nanticoke flood-free. Wilkes-Barre was another story, and I found myself swerving into the middle of the road to avoid puddles of unknown (and unknowable) depth, some of them welling up from beneath the surface of the road.

I got back home around 5:00. The heaviest rain seemed to have already passed, but the ponding in the yard was terrible. The ground was clearly saturated. How much more water would it be asked to absorb?

I checked the basement from the top of the steps. No standing water, no wet cat prints. Good signs.

On closer inspection, water had come in - and possibly already receded - in the sections that take on water first, the southeast and southwest corners. I made a note to lay down towel dams, get the pumps and hoses ready, and keep an eye on the water.

A few minutes later, water began creeping up rapidly.

I retrieved the hoses, attached them to the pumps. Set the pumps up where the water was deepest, close to an inch. Directed their outlets into a shower drain. Watched the volume of water quickly overwhelm the slow drain.

I redirected the hoses into a toilet, where the increasing volume of water in the bowl caused the toilet to flush itself several times before I realized I should turn off the water inlet and stop wasting fresh water.

After an hour or so, the standing water had been reduced to wet residue. I turned off the pumps. A few minutes later, as the water level on the floor began to rise again, I turned the pumps on again.

It's going to be a long night.

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