Is that a new type of tablecloth? What do you call it, the table rug? Uh, no. That is the 10′ x 12′ area rug from our basement, drying out after we got 8″ of rain in under 3 hours, most of it into our basement, it seems.

The Cape had one doozy of a storm on Friday night, with a torrential downpour of monsoon proportions. We were woken by a flash flood warning on our iPhones at around 11:30 p.m., but were a bit too sanguine about it. We rolled over and went back to sleep, confident in the prowess of our sump pump. Big mistake. We were woken again at 1:30 a.m. with a different alarm going off – the water alarm, activated by a “water bug” near the furnace and hot water heater in our basement. At the opposite end of the basement from the problem, it turned out.

Springing out of bed and hastening downstairs and were greeted by 2″ of water swirling around the floor. Ugh. The source? This one window we have in the basement. The water was cascading in around the edges and had apparently been at it for quite some time. And the sump pump was not working. At all. Nada. Zip. Nothing. Radio silence. Grrrrr. 

Glenn dashed outside to see what could be done. We are situated in a low spot with wetlands on one side of us, fed by a pond behind us. The former owners had installed a 14″ pipe going down one side of the property to help move the water into the wetlands, and the grate to that sometimes gets clogged. It was partially obstructed, so Glenn moved the grate to one side and the effect was immediate.

Water gushed down the drain in a classic whirlpool pattern, alleviating some of the flow into our backyard, which was now under 5″ of water. 

Looks so serene in the is picture doesn’t it?


Well, here it is with the water cascading over the rock wall and down the stairs, like a water feature in a landscape. 


Water feature it certainly was, and it was filling the window well.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was trying to staunch the flow of water coming into the basement by holding up a garden trug to the window. It was filling in about two minutes. Luckily, the laundry tub is right nearby, so I was able to empty it into the tub and a pump carries the water out.

The rain started to slacken at this point, and Glenn bailed out the window well. Ok – so far, so good. The rain stopped cascading into the basement. Now we just had to deal with the gallons and gallons of water on the floor.

We called our contractor neighbour who has done a bunch of work for us and who looks after the house when we are away. He advised us to call a restoration company who offered 24 hour service.  We called. They answered the phone, yawning sleepily. “Yes? Hmmm.. er… um…well, yes… it is very wet. A lot of rain, you say? Yes, we’ve had several calls… We’ll call you back at 7:30 am…when it’s daylight…and we’ll need a credit card before we come…Good luck with the water…”  Very helpful. NOT.

So we set to with the trug. It’s flexible, so makes an excellent scoop. And scoop we did. From 2:00 am to 6:00 am we scooped and dumped. Scooped and dumped. We began to make progress. The water was no longer over my feet. When the water was too shallow to use the trug, we switched to the dustpan. Scoop and dump.

Our basement is about 1200 sq feet, and mostly finished.  The flooring is an engineered hardwood, so we had hope. If we could get the water off the floor quickly enough, it might be saved.

By 7:30 am we had switched from the dustpan to mopping up with a towel we use to rub off the dogs. It’s made of microfibre and holds a tremendous amount of water. It was very satisfying seeing the top of the floor clear of water, and even semi-dry. 

The floor still squelched ominously underfoot in spots, but I used my feet to squish  the towel against on the seams of the hardwood, sopping up water from underneath. That worked amazingly well..

One of the guys from our contractor’s firm, Dick, came to help at around 7:30 a.m. He and Glenn lugged the carpet up the basement steps, out the bulkhead and into the backyard. The damned thing had to weigh 300 lbs as it was very waterlogged. Next went the underpad, which they draped over the lawn furniture. Water oozed off edges the corners onto the patio stones below.

The very unhelpful restoration company called and asked if we still needed their assistance. No thank you. And only my good graces are stopping me from posting a tart and very pointed review of your less-than-helpful services.

Dick departed and returned with a second fan and dehumidifier to add to the ones we had going. That would surely help, and was mostly what the restoration company would have done at this point, anyway.

The air outside was like the tropics – absolutely saturated with moisture. Everything was sopping wet. The patio was covered with mulch and dirt.  But all that that could wait.

We were exhausted. Glenn went off to catch a few zzzs, but I was too keyed up to sleep. We were leaving in a couple of days and needed to get organized. I had decided sometime earlier to consolidate all my glassware in the storage cupboard on the main floor, and I had some new transferware that needed to be put away.  I spent the rest of the day puttering with that – tidying, sorting, lugging. Once you’re on a roll it sometimes seems easier just to keep going.

Our contractor came by in the early afternoon to take a look at the sump pump. Glenn got up and the two of them sorted it out. The float was stuck. Turns out we should have been wetting it periodically with a garden hose and making sure it was clicking on. Lesson learned. We will be doing that in future, as well as being far more attentive to any flash flood warnings.

The sun came out and everything began to gently steam. By nightfall we had made huge progress. The carpet and underpad were both drying nicely, the house was tidy, and the closet rearranged. The fans and dehumidifiers were doing their thing. We all breathed a sigh of relief. Crisis averted. It’s amazing what you can do with a lowly garden trug and a dustpan!

The following day, Glenn fitted a sheet of plexiglass over the window to assist in repelling any future water. It’s screwed firmly into the concrete and sealed with caulking. He raised the lip of the window well by fixing an  8″ tall piece of plexiglass around the edge. We also purchased a pool pump and will be getting a shop vac. I hope we will never have to use them!

We leave today for Canada. It’s been a marvellous summer, despite our rather soggy last couple of days. Yesterday was gorgeous, and although on Saturday morning I thought I’d never want to feel water on my feet again, we spent our final evening down at the beach at low tide, lingering until the incoming tide chased off the sand bar I call Gilligan’s Island. It disappeared below the water just as the sun went down. Absolutely magical.

I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.