The Rhode Island Floods of 2010

Hardest hit:

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How bad was the flooding?

It killed the Easter bunnies.  Four of them.  And hundreds of other pets.  But no people died, thank goodness.

We experienced some problems with our septic already this month due to the excessive rainfall.  Several hours with a wet vac and cleaning supplies in the basement addressed the leak on our 6 day old, newly installed carpets.  That was barely a week ago.   

Monday night we went to bed around 11am and it rained again.  But we prepared for it. It was dry as a bone.  I had a large bucket ready for any leaks coming out of the septic drain if the worst case (predicted 2-5 inches of rain in this storm) happened.   I had set up extra pipes for all the downspouts to channel the water away from the house.

The 5 inches would have been bad.  We would have had some water leaks.  At 3am my wife woke up smelling the septic backup from upstairs.  This was not a good sign. 

This was the part of the storm that sent us into the 200 year record marks.   We got something around 8 inches of rain on top of totally saturated grounds and full swimming pools and backed up septic system.   I had ran the pool pump at a slow trickle for 2 days previous and it filled back up in minutes.   

On top of the septic backup we found 2 hugely shocking discoveries that placed us from "flood mitigation" into full scale emergency.
  • Pools of water forming on the opposite side of the basement where the waterfalls we had not seen yet were accumulating into the opposite end of the house from where the runoff was entering.
  • The sump pump had been overcome.   In horror we pulled back the furnace room doors to find several inches of water building behind the sump pump well and soaking unhung picture frames and boxes of books that had yet to be unpacked since we bought the house at the end of last summer.
We started getting shocked by the wet vac as we operated it in standing water in nothing but our PJ's and bare feet at 3:30am.  At that point we started calling all the emergency phone numbers on our fridge we could.   Luckily we were up before most anyone so we got a plumber to come help us bolster the sump pump.   He also confirmed that our pool was overflowing and we had to pump it out or the waterfalls would continue into the basement.  At first they would not pump it because of environmental issues with the pool chemicals.  Thankfully the guy said to hell with the laws and pumped out our pool into the street for us or we'd have been buried by water.

The next 4 hours went by in a blur.   We continued monitoring the septic overflow and tried to contact the water damage companies at 8am to get help with clean up and drying out the new carpets which are still sitting on my wife's credit card unpaid - but completely ruined at this point today.

 Shortly after this the rain came down hard again.  And the thousands of gallons of water that had been pumped out came flooding right back into the backyard, the pool, and again into our basement and garage.   After a quick, futile search at the local hardware stores for any kind of backup pump, I returned with the only option available to us.  We had to break open the pool pump from the garage and break the winterization and run out the pump into the street manually.  In retrospect we should have done this long before this storm, but with everything going on I never thought that I would have to open up the pool like that.

Cleanup will take time

This is a video from a week before this recent flood.
I used to work with the guy in the green hoody in this video:

"I feel like I was run over by a truck right now"

I said the same thing to my wife more than once the last few days. Almost the exact same words, because my body really felt like I'd been run over.

We stayed on top of the cleanup all day long.  We couldn't shower, use the toilet, clean any of the 10 pairs of clothes that we soaked, or the 25 towels drenched.   So we just did clean up and kept emptying the buckets.  Then around 7pm a septic pumping truck came by to bail us out.  They pumped out our entire septic tank nearly with 1,000 gallons - the most the little port-a-potty truck could carry.  Within 30 minutes the septic tank filled back up again.

Exhausted and sick with stress, my wife went to bed around 9pm.   She didn't sleep long.  I tried to stay up to monitor and mitigate the floods as heavy rain continued.  But even during the exciting URI vs UNC men's NCAA basketball NIT tournament game I drifted to sleep around 11pm.  3hours of sleep just wasn't enough to pull an all-nighter.

We had alarms going off every 30 minutes to change out the buckets however.  In the first round I miscalculated and the septic bucket had overflowed and in my haste I spilled large amounts on the carpet as I scrambled to pull it out from behind the washing machine.  This continued until around 6am when we finally slept a solid hour without getting up.  The bucket finally stopped getting water.

It was a horrible nightmare that wouldn't end.  We had two nights with hardly 5 hours of continuous sleep and still waiting for a cleanup service.  The service never came.  They were too busy helping people pump out water.   Our wet basement wasn't nearly as devastating as those having standing water.   So it looks like the $3,000 new carpets are goners.  The other $1k spent on mitigation hopefully gets covered by insurance.  But we'll have to wait and see what the insurance adjuster dude says.


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