Monday, April 26, 2010

Water: Friend and Foe

The abundant rains of this Spring, combined with the thawing of frequent snow falls during the Winter of 2009, has caused a good deal of inconvenience for many people in my old stomping grounds. There's water that requires pumps in the basement to run incessantly, followed by weeks of dehumidifiers. Homes that formerly stood on dry land are now lake front properties. Some huge, oceanfront homes were in danger of going into the drink, due to erosion, during the storms raging. Drivers, not aware of the depth of the water, plow through it, causing the engines to quit.

Water is a good thing, but like everything else, when there's too much of it, it can become a nuisance. I remember flying over the flooded Mississippi River back in the early 1990's. Looking from the plane's window, water seemed to be everywhere, and I just couldn't imagine what the residents in those areas were having to deal with. In later years, there was a trecherous flood in Keene, NH where homes on the river were swept off the banks and damage was horrendous. Then there was Hurricane Katrina which caused enormous devastation to the city of New Orleans.

On a much smaller scale, thank Heaven, we've suffered water damage in a few instances. The water table was high on our East Hampton property, and when the Spring rains came after a particularly wet Winter, we'd sometimes get puddles in the basement. We learned how to fix that...placing a ten foot long lead at the end of the corner gutter pipe that would carry the rain away from the house. It worked quite well as long as it was connected. However, in Nov. 2005 while we were in SC finalizing the purchase of our home there, torrential rains fell in East Hampton for a week or more. Returning home, we opened the door to a 'swampy' odor which came from the basement. Apparently, in strong winds, the corner gutter pipe had disconnected from the gutter at the edge of the roof, and the water rushed straight down and leaked into the basement. What a mess! The water vacuum sucked up the pool, the fans and dehumidifiers dried the rest, the open windows took care of the smell. Much of what was stored in the area had to be taken to the dump.

In August 2009, while away from home for the day, we came home to find our entire first floor under flood waters. The dishwasher connection had malfunctioned, and water poured from under the sink, saturating everything in its path. $10,000 and four months later, we were back on track.

While water can certainly be important to the world, which we also learned during extreme drought conditions in our area for two Summers, it is also prone to be an enemy. I hope, for the sake of my old friends and neighbors in my native area, that the flood waters subside, leaving them with little expense and damage.