Glub Glub Glub

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My basement was dry Sunday night at around 8 p.m. But the next morning – after an evening of heavy rain, courtesy of the Hurricane – it wasn’t.

Three or four inches of standing water – my own private fish pond or a place to sail my battleship models indoors.

But why?

Because Uncle.

Yes, government incompetence – neglect – is why my basement is full of agua. The walls don’t leak. The floor, either. But water came in from the drains in the floor, which are there to take water out of the basement and carry it to the outside. The pipes run from my house to the front yard, where they empty into the culvert by the road – which is supposed to carry the water away.

Except the state – which taxes me to pay for such things – hasn’t maintained the culvert and drainage is nonexistent. When it rains really hard, a small lake forms by the road at the edge of my property. This time – historic rainfall – the lake rose high enough for the accumulated water to backflow into the drain pipe from my basement, conduiting thousands of gallons into my house.

Once the rains stopped and the lake level outside lowered and the drain pipe was exposed, the drains in my house were able to expel the standing water. But not the water-logged carpet in the bedroom or the in the drywall. Nor the water that is now soaked into all the framing/studs.

Goddamn it.

So I spent most of yesterday pulling carpet and drywall – in a couple of hours, deconstructing all the construction I’d done, to the tune of about $3,500 in “parts and labor.”  Not counting mold abatement – which I’ll deal with today using Clorox and a high capacity sprayer.

So I called the local government bureaucracy which is the recipient of the funds mulcted from me to pay for the maintenance to the roads, which was not done and so caused this mess. It took multiple attempts to “file a report” about the problematic culvert and we’ll see whether they actually spend some of my ex-money to come out and fix it, so this does not happen again.

But the bigger issue is the $3,500-plus in damages done. I filed a claim – an arduous process involving no contact with any actual human representative of the government and a spavined hunchback of a web site that repeatedly lost my tediously filled-out information. I filed out the same online form three times before it finally took.

A very nice woman at VDOT helped me deal with this, so  kudos to her.

But I’d rather they just fix the damned the culvert – me having already paid for it many times over – and pay me for the damages done by their failure to not fix it already.

. . .

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  1. Way back when I first started working, like many 22 year old men, I lived in a condemnable house. I had the lower floor and the weatherman (yes, an actual meteorologist who worked for AccuWeather) lived upstairs. The town upgraded the storm sewers to keep the “grey water” (sink and shower) drains from mixing with the storm runoff water. The black water was on a septic system. At some point in the early 90s it was determined that water from Pennsylvania was polluting the Chesapeake bay so every municipality had to clean up their act to comply. Pretty sure they let the farmers slide by even though they were probably the primary polluters. My landlord ignored the requirement for upgrading the sewer so when the town upgraded they cut off the drains. Very quickly the crawlspace basement flooded with grey water and began to stink horribly. The handyman’s solution was to install a sump pump and discharge the water out to the neighbors’ yard, which promptly killed all his grass and attracted all sorts of insects. And of course the jerk wouldn’t let us out of the lease either.

    No point to this, other than to get that out there. And make sure you have a responsible landlord if you’re renting.

  2. Since you’re not dealing with pressure under the floor you could use stand pipes. (If it is the water table rising not letting the water go above the concrete can destroy the floor). With stand pipes the water would have to get much higher in culvert before it would enter your basement.

  3. Install a backwater valve on that drain out of your house. Normally these are installed to prevent sewage from doing the same thing from a sanitary sewer, but it should work for you too. It works automatically (no power neccessary, works with gravity). I think a cheap one is about $40.

    First thing I installed in my present house, saved me from sewage a number of times.

    The only problem with them, when they are closed, you can’t pass out anymore water. So if your house drain tiles get filled (a problem for my area, hopefully not so much in yours) it will still flood. But it will buy you some time and lessen the water. You should install one on your pipe out to your septic too, they can get flooded out too.

    I am guessing since your up in the hills you don’t have a sump pump. Install one even if you can only route the water out the basement wall of the house like a rain gutter.

    Unfortunately both require digging into the floor. A majorly sucky job.

  4. I’d like to think I’d have reacted to this situation as resourcefully as you, but realistically I’d have probably just been in a ball sobbing for a day or so.. I generally don’t even have the will power to gracefully get through cleaning up spilled food..much less to have a goddamn lake transfer into my home…and at the fault of the state, of all things.

    Shit’s ridiculous EP. I hope they make this right.


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