It's the time of the year again. The time when we are pelted relentlessly with storm after storm.
We built the house we currently occupy and while under construction it almost constantly had several inches of water in the basement. Ultimately, we opted to lower the ceiling (literally by raising the basement floor) to avoid most water problems. We're the low point of the subdivision and the closest we can legally be to a river. We've also got an industrial-size sump pump and the mother of all dehumidifiers, both of which run for hours daily. On top of a battery back up for the sump pump, a generator, and a check value, we're pretty much good to go.
We learned the hard way. Today marks the ten-year anniversary of when our basement flooded.... with almost a foot of raw sewage. Once we realized the gushing of sewage wasn't going to stop, my mom called her parents who live 30 minutes away. We were lucky because my aunt and uncle were in town staying there, too. The six adults ran up and down the stairs with flashlights in their teeth and were able to save 80 percent of our stuff. (My sisters watched in terror... I was in my room getting a good night's sleep). Two doors down, they weren't so lucky. Rob was out of town on business, so eight-months pregnant Karen trudged through literally eight inches of sewage trying to save those irreplaceable. Three houses in our neighborhood got sewage and another few got water. It was not a good night.
That was back when we first moved into our new house and lost power with every storm. We slept with flashlights in each bedroom. Now, we get so many tornado watches that they're ignored, other than turning on local television. "Tornado Warning" runs more smoothly than "Dinner's ready." Turn off and unplug all of the computers, close windows and doors, close the garage door, grab the cats, someone get a flashlight, where's my cell phone?, and into the basement we go. We don't mess around, but we don't panic either. During one of the more recent storms, I paused for a second. No adrenaline rush, no tremors, and no pounding heart. In all honesty, I was moderately disappointed, but I was also relieved.
I remember the first tornado warning without my parents. I was just barely old enough to stay home with my sisters, and it was literally the first time they let us stay home alone. They went to a baseball game in the skybox with a bunch of friends.
The sky was dark and even at 7, 9, and 11 my sisters and I weren't stupid. We had all of the flashlights we owned, our first aid-kit, and sweatshirts and blankets all piled neatly on my bed. "Just in case," I said, and we went back to playing.
In the stadium, focus shifted from the game to the tv revealing the weather. Instantly, those with cell phones pulled them out and began to call home. The tornado was headed directly towards our neighborhood. My parents began to panic.
Three little girls home alone + tornado = bad news bears
To top it off, every one of our neighbors, every one of our "call these people if you ever have a problem" friends was at the baseball game with my parents watching helplessly as the weatherman told our area to take cover. Of course, all of the neighbors' kids were home with young babysitters, too. There weren't any better options than "suck it up, go downstairs, and pray hard."
Our prayers were answered very quickly. On the other end of the phone, Dad stopped talking. The voice was replaced by Rob's unmistakable Pennsylvania accent, "My mom's in town. She's at home with our girls; she'll go and get yours, too."
Grammi's number of scared little girls doubled that minute as she became our hero. My sister said something about being scared and Grammi told her if the storm ripped off the roof, Grammi would lay on top of us girls and there was no way the storm would move her. :-) The seven of us huddled in the corner of their basement playing a game and waiting for the storm to pass. There was no major damages that night but there were a lot of sighs of relief.
Just a good neighbor answering the call of duty or an everyday hero? Take your pick.