I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and spent most of my adult life there as well. I am all-too familiar with rain. I remember the year we moved back to the Seattle area as a married couple and it rained fifty days in a row.
Yet I never–not once–worried about my house flooding while living there. Oh sure, occasionally, the rain would drip through a leaky roof, but that was the extent of it.
Today, in my fifth year of living in mild and sunny San Diego, I freaked out when I realized that the water was not draining from my yard as hard rain fell.
At first, I had just glanced outside the sliding glass doors from my office and noticed that the water seemed to be standing instead of draining. I had checked my garage earlier to make sure no water was seeping under the door as it had done during the last heavy rainfall.
All was well. But now that I noticed the standing water outside my door, I hurried back to the garage to find water streaming under the door. I stepped outside in my slippers to check the drain and realized the water required more than slippers.
I ran upstairs and put on my husband’s boots. Ran back outside and sloshed to the drain where my feeble attempts with a screwdriver did nothing.
I opened the gate to the area next to the garage side door and found a good six inches of water pooling. I knew the water would be going under the side door and into the garage since that drain there was also clogged.
I ran back inside, shoved bath towels against the garage door to stop the water. (Ha, such optimism.) Then I replaced my husband’s boots with knee-high rain boots.
If you are keeping track at home, the score is: 2 drains, both clogged + sudden downpour = flooding side yard (which is all cement).
I grabbed a push broom and began sweeping and pushing the water out the gate to the front sidewalk where it could stream down the driveway and down the street. With minutes, I was completely soaked.
Like in this scene, only it was just me, my push broom, relentless rain, and panic:
So, when I spotted my sons through the office window–where they were gaping at me–I opened the sliding door enough to say, “Call dad and tell him I need sandbags.”
Then I resumed push-brooming the water out the gate . . . for a solid forty-five minutes. I seriously worried that the water would continue to rise. The downspouts from the roof were gushing. The lawn in the back yard was beginning to look like a pond. The water continued to pool outside my office door and I remembered how terrible it was last year when we had water damage in our house from a flooded toilet.
Finally, I had to leave my Sisyphean task because I had to drive carpool. Fortunately, the rain began to let up a little and my son (bless him) took over the job of sweeping the water out the gate. I dripped all the way upstairs where I stood in the tub to remove all my wet clothes. My hair was as wet as if I’d just showered. I actually picked up the kids looking like a drowned rat.
By the time I got home an hour later, the rain had mostly stopped. We set up a barricade of sandbags.
I could not be more exhausted and my hands burn from the rough wood handle of that push broom. But I’m fairly confident that we are safe from flooding.
Tomorrow I’m calling someone to come and clean out those drains.
It’s supposed to rain all week which is hilarious since we’re in a terrible drought. You should see news coverage of the rain. Of course, my attitude was one of complete mockery until my own rain boots filled with water while I frantically fought the forces of nature with nothing but a push broom and determination.
[Insert ark joke here.]