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December 14, 2017
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The flood of 2014


September 3, 2014

When the water started to fall, my first thought was that it was raining. But the downpour seemed much closer and not muffled by the windows of our apartment.

My second thought was that I had foolishly left the water running in the bathroom. I checked; I had not.

As I walked into the kitchen, the sound got louder, and I realized that something was very wrong; water poured down through a light socket and splashed loudly to the floor.

I grabbed our recycling bin, emptied it and placed it under the leak. The sound was suddenly amplified into a low slapping rumble. Emily joined me in the kitchen, and as the water began to spread to the hallway she said calmly, “Well that’s not good.”

We quickly moved all of our belongings to the dry areas of the apartment, and we placed empty pots, trashcans and bowls to catch the drizzling, dripping water. Our upstairs neighbor had a toilet pipe burst (thankfully, the water was clean) and they had to call the fire department to turn it off. Over the next hour and a half, Emily and I switched the receptacles out and poured the water down the drain... in the dark.

Because the water was traveling through a light socket, we had turned off the power. There was nothing much to do but wait and continue to empty the buckets. In between, we made the best of it and drank a bottle of wine and played a dice game by candlelight.

A few hours later, the dripping had stopped, so we turned the power back on and dried the floor and walls as best we could. A minor inconvenience, I thought, not my favorite way to spend a Sunday evening, as I drifted off to sleep. I had no idea what we were really in for.

That next week contractors and insurance people came to survey the situation. There was obviously a bunch of water damage to the ceiling and one of the floors. They would have to scrape some of the walls and replaster them, replace a floor or two.

“But first,” our contractor said, “you have to wait for it to dry.”

A mildew smell grew, little by little, more and more musty, and a mold expert was recommended and called. There was still water in the walls, so he ripped them open and set up large plastic sheets cordoning off the rooms. He brought in huge dehumidifiers and industrial fans, and ran them on high blast.

To move through the apartment you had to open and close these zippers, walking through rooms that were so dry it felt like your eyeballs would suck back into your head. It felt like a horror movie.