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Best rain or uncontrollable-amount-of-water story

by Eric Nuzum September 8, 2011 at 10:00 am 46 Comments

Rain Drops
Geez. Can we get a little rain here?

In case you haven’t noticed, it has been quite damp over the past few weeks. It seems like Mother Nature has suddenly decided to make good on all the rain we’ve been missing since, well, February.

I’m sure the mosquitos love it, but I, for one, am just about soggied out.

Makes me think of good stories of rain, flood, excessive water, etc.

You may be wondering what I could possibly mean by “good stories” about rain and floods. I mean those times when you stop and think, “You know, this will be very funny someday, but not right now.” Then you go back to shoving the mud and grossness out of your basement apartment kitchen.

I have one–which I’m sure you can top in the comments section.

A few years ago my decidedly non-camping wife gave me a great birthday present–a weekend of “camping” in a treehouse cabin. Seriously, it was awesome. Or would have been awesome. The treehouse cabin sat right along the banks of the Shenandoah River. If you have ever spent much time near the Shenandoah River, you know that it floods whenever someone pours a warm beer out into it. And when it floods, it goes so in a glorious manner.

It had been raining for days before we showed up. While it was dry, it was obvious that the Shenandoah was feeling a little…bloaty.

When we showed up at the treehouse, we could see that the river bank was rising.

Who cares, you might think. You are in a treehouse. But that’s half the problem. If you go up into the treehouse–and it floods–how do you get out?

The owner, probably hoping he wouldn’t have to refund our money, tried to convince us to stay.

“Hell, if the river hasn’t gone down by the time you leave–I’ll come get you out with a canoe,” he generously offered.

“But what if we have to go to the bathroom?” I asked.

He looked puzzled.

“I mean, if I’m up in the treehouse…with no rest facilities…what if, I don’t know, I have to go to the bathroom during the weekend?”

“Come on,” he exclaimed. “Just go off the side!”

You can imagine how this went down with my non-camping wife.

We ended up spending the night in an (empty) boy scout camp on the property, with my wife pretty much begging me to go home in the morning.

Water in the basement, swollen rivers, etc. What are some of your rain/water stories?

  • JE

    New carpet installed on Tuesday morning, just as rain began. Pulling up wet carpet now, apparently b/c the ground is so saturated that is seeping through foundation. Of course.

  • Anonymous

    Over-long, rambling posts requiring me to scroll down? Must be the Lord’s back in charge! Welcome!

  • Currently in the midst of an ongoing uncontrollable-amount-of-water situation. The ceiling in my bedroom began leaking during Hurricane Irene (actually had slight water damage shortly before this and the roof had been newly fixed and the ceiling re-plastered at the spot of the leak) and it quickly escalated to falling plaster and more leaks than I had bowls to catch. At the end of the tropical storm rains, there was a 2 foot by 2 foot hole in the plaster.

    Well, my landlord had lost power at his house and this, coupled with how busy roofing companies were after the hurricane, meant my ceiling went un-fixed. And now these ridiculous rains have set in and the leaking is worse than ever, plus more plaster falls each day. About 1/3rd of my room (and this is actually the master bedroom of the house – a pretty big room) is out of commission (luckily, not 1/3rd of the plaster from the ceiling has fallen, but this is the consequence of the dripping and splashing and the things I had to move from under the leak). Also everything in my room is damp. What do I do?? At least I don’t own the house, I suppose!

    Phew, that rant felt good.

    • Ben

      For anything damaged by the water you should be covered with renters insurance – if you have it.

      You should get your landlord involved ASAP. If anything they should cover the hole on the roof with tarp to prevent further damage Things will just get worse if no action takes place…..

      • My landlord has been involved since the roof started leaking, but unfortunately likes to cut corners (he means well & is very responsive but hires very incompetent contractors, I assume because he’s getting a great price).

        And I, like an idiot, do not have renter’s insurance. Fortunately no water damage to anything of mine yet (I think) and there’s not really much of value in the room anyway besides, perhaps, my laptop (all my valuable possessions belong in the kitchen :).

  • Petworthian

    Although my basement entrance drains appear to be working quite well now that I had them cleared out, I’m keeping the basement door sandbagged until this monsoon season passes. Pulling wet carpet out last summer (1 month into my tenure as a Petworth homeowner) was really not fun. Every morning after these rains, my first to-do is to go outside and see if the drains are still handling the deluge. So far so good!

    Ultimately I want a sump pump system installed but $4000 is a lot of change…

    • JohnnyReb

      $4000 for a sump pump?! I just had my basement waterproofed (perimeter concrete floor dug up, new pipes buried, old sump filled, new sump and pump installed, and plastic put on walls) for $4600. All a sump is is a hole in the ground. I think my guy charged $300 for digging the new sump, and the pump might have been $1000.

  • TaylorStreetMan

    Oh, Lord, thou be-eth a long-winded, chatty Lord.

  • BF

    Vermont a few years ago – our house backed up to the University of Vermont campus where they had just completed a large dormitory construction project, including new parking lots. Some really excellent engineer apparently decided that the surface water should be funneled directly toward our back yard. Needless to say, the first big rain that summer resulted in a little flooding that quickly turned into actual white water rapids flowing from the back fence towards our house. Seriously.

    That’s when phone cameras come in very handy. All it took was a few pictures emailed to their facilities department and we had a complete solution, including reimbursement for all the stuff in our basement that was ruined and retrofitting new steel support posts to replace the 100 year old wooden posts. And they rerouted the runoff to fix the problem for good.

    I’m pretty certain that without those photos of the white water, the University would have brushed us off…

  • Rain gives me peace, specially at night.
    When I was a kid, our house was located a couple blocks away from a police station in a country ruled by a dictator and a guerrilla movement trying to make a revolution.
    Some evenings, this young guerrilla people would walk on the street and scream to people to go home and close the doors because they were about to attack the police station. It was so bad some times, that we (me and my siblings) had to hide under the beds, while my mother was tying to keep some mattresses against the windows, like that was going to stop something. Fortunately, none of us were harmed never, except probably psychologically.
    The interesting thing is that they would never attack on rainy nights, so I was always happy on rainy evenings/nights knowing that I was going to be safe and sleep well. I think that’s why I still like rainy nights so much.
    That’s my rain story.

    • textdoc

      Wow! That’s quite a story.

    • Hank Chinaski

      Doubt anyone will top this.

      Great story. Thanks for sharing.

    • opal

      god damn pablo. that’s so sad. and definitely the best rain story.

    • Anonymous

      Wow, that is a good reason to love the rain.

    • Emmaleigh504

      I think I’ll think about rain differently now. Quite a story.

      • victoria

        Great story – thanks.

  • Veronika

    back when big screen TVs were all the rage (and sat on the floor) my Dad bought a brand new one for the basement. Basement flooded the next day. I do believe we declined the extra Circuit City protection plan. what could happen? Cheers!

    • Denizen of Tenallytown

      Ouch, that hurts. I bet Dad felt like a Class A schmuck.

      • Veronika

        not really, because he didn’t end up paying for a new TV, they replaced it. Class A schmuck he certainly is NOT. I believe it’s called State Farm.

        • Denizen of Tenallytown

          Ah, I assumed he didn’t have coverage for it based on how the story ended. Not saying he IS a schmuck, but would have FELT like one in that situation, had that happened.

  • Denizen of Tenallytown

    I guess this a replacement for the Rant/Revel that usually posts around 10am daily, so…

    Revel: With all of this rain, I am glad that I live in a condo in a building that sits near the highest point in DC. No flooding inside, no clearing of debris outside, nice and dry.

    But I still want a house.

    • Anon

      So this explains all of your vitriol toward people who are able to buy expensive houses in neighborhoods you dont like! Got it.

      • Denizen of Tenallytown

        Wrong, but thanks for taking a stab at it. You know, like the stabbing that took place in your hood last night.

        • Anon

          Cool. Keep paying 800/month condo fees on that condo that will never go up in price in a dated building filled with retirees and college renters.

  • DubyaStreet

    My father tells this great story from growing up in England in the 60s: He and a few buddies and a dog had gone camping near their town, and all was well, when it started raining. They decided to go in the tent to get out of the rain, so the three guys, the dog, their stuff, and the lantern go in the tent. At some point they get drunk, and someone or the dog knock over the lantern and the tent catched fire. The guys get out, have to pull the dog out by the legs, and the tent and all their stuff go up in flames. They are outside, new moon pitch black out, pouring rain, with no gear or tent. They can see the lights of the town, so they start walking in that direction. Pre cell phone era and all. As they start walking, the ground gets soggy. They keep walking, but the ground gets soggier and soggier, and somehow the entire place starts reaking. Each step they keep going deeper into this smelly sogginess. So they are walking, pitch black, soaking wet, knee deep in sogginess, with a smell around them. (Dog is up to her belly in sogginess, but they are assisting). They finally get to a road, and walk into town, and determine that they had just traversed the town’s cesspool field. They then walked through town, in their long johns, covered in biodegrading shit, sopping wet.
    The end.

    • JenDC

      Awesome, I guess I’m 12 years old because it made me giggle. Thanks for sharing.

  • JDC

    RANT – Bicycle riders on the sidewalk. I’m an agreeable enough dude, but my blood boiled this morning when i turned around from the newspaper stand on 16th street only to almost be smashed by a guy riding his bike up the sidewalk. Better yet, he yelled at me to get out of the way.
    So the hypothetical scenario has been running thru my mind all morning – if you take out a biker on the sidewalk who is barreling right towards you, is it assault or self defense?

    • me

      It’s medal-worthy.

    • ah

      Meanwhile, over on GGW, there’s helmet-cam video of a pickup driver running a cyclist off the road.

    • victoria

      “Get out of the way bitch!” was what a sidewalk cyclist shouted at me the other day. I was walking (in the rain) near CVS by CH metro – (i.e. a big pedestrian area) A man was walking toward me and others were behind me. I saw the cyclist approaching and weaving around the oncoming man. I didn’t know where he was planning to go, so I just stood still – on “my” side of the sidewalk.

      I’m no zen swami type and often do have murderous thoughts towards cruel idiots, but this time, all I could think was – how awful your life must be that your first response toward other people is ugliness.

  • Anonymous

    self defense. I think about doing this everyday on 16th street.

  • dp

    Basement apt in Dupont flooded a few years ago during a major (100 yr or whatever) rain. Not a huge deal, but real story is from the plumber who came out to snake the exterior drains afterwards. He’s pulling all types of stuff out of the drain, debris of all kinds, so I ask him “what’s the craziest thing you’ve pulled out before.” He paused briefly before answering “human arm” and then continued, “but I wasn’t quite sure what it was until I cut it open with my knife.” After this discovery, the police were apparently brought in, went down below in the sewers, where they brought up the remainder of the corpse, minus the head and hands.

    • Soozles

      eeewww! (is that how you spell that? )


    • Veronika

      NO! that is CRAZY!!! Goodness, I can stop up a drain with too much toilet paper, can you imagine flushing a corpse???

  • jcm

    I know people dig them out – my house included. Has anyone ever filled a basement in? I hate the damned thing. If three dump trucks of dirt showed up right now i’d probably accept them.

    At least I didn’t replace the old carpet with more carpet, or anything else vulnerable to water.

    • Veronika

      my basement has never been redone, so currently that’s exactly what most of it is… a pile of dirt. you can have mine.

  • Anonymous

    Right about now I’m feeling sorry for whoever occupies the English basement I rented a few years ago in Mt. Pleasant, which would flood with regularity after much less rain than this. The problem stemmed from the inadequate drain on the back patio, but my landlord had just bought the house and I don’t think he had enough cash to do anything about it. Fortunately, I never happened to be out of town each time it flooded.

  • ForestGreen

    My fun rain story is that our new (to us) Petworth house apparently has a very leaky basement. Does anyone have experience with a contractor who specializes in basement waterproofing? Yay homeownership!

    • Mt P Resident

      Check out B-Dry. It’s a national company, but a number of people I work with highly recommended them when we had basement flooding issues beginning a year ago – while my wife and I were on our honeymoon in Hawaii no less. So our rain story begins with spending a morning on the phone with our tenants, insurance company, and the waterproofing person they found online. Sadly, the guy who they got to help with the flooding didn’t seem especially competant after the fact, and shortly after he replaced the water-damaged cabinets with new ones, we had flooding again. At the recommendation of my colleagues, we had B-Dry come in and install a waterproofing system with a sump pump. So far (fingers crossed!), we have yet to hear from our tenants, so hopefully our basement water problems have been fixed for the long run. Now we just need to get one of our box gutters replaced because bricks from our chimney fell on it during the earthquake. While our roofers repair gutters, they apparently don’t build them from scratch. Yay homeownership indeed! :)

    • MC

      Try AquaGuard Waterproofing


      We had the same problem in our newly purchased Park View home. Water just poured in from the foundation in the basement during Irene, even with the sump pump running (although the closet that housed the sump pump stayed dry :/ ). Anyways, our work was actually done by an affiliate of AquaGuard called A1 Waterproofing (paperwork on AquaGuard letterhead). They came in quickly and installed an indoor/outdoor drainage system just a few days ago. Finished the work quickly and were really great. We’ve been dry since even with all of this rain.

      Yay homeownership!

      Spend about 18 hours straight during Irene running two ShopVacs continuously to keep the water contained to the back section of the basement. funfun

      (I apologize if this post shows up twice, not sure it worked the first time)

  • I have a leaking window, and the baseboards got wet and warped, pulling away from the wall. Also have a leaky roof over the balcony (which isn’t a big problem, just annoying). Once, our vestibule flooded, and my neighbor’s window well is a swimming pool at the moment. Home ownership sucks – I’d rather live in a sleek apartment tower with everything included.

  • Eckingtonite

    I’d lived in my basement apartment in Dupont for a while with no issues, even in massive rains…until the 3rd floor people installed (incorrectly) a new washing machine. I was on my sofa and then I heard a weird sound. Water began cascading – sheeting – down an entire wall, then it began pouring out of all the overhead recessed lighting fixtures, one after another, in a row. I managed to move everything to one side and create a levee out of sheets and towels in between running outside to the buzzers, pressing the buttons for every unit, and yelling “WHATEVER YOU TURNED ON, TURN IT OFF NOW” to anyone who answered the intercom. I managed to get it all cleaned up with no damage to my stuff at all, and that was my last place living anywhere with anyone above me.

  • Anonymous

    I’m helping an elderly windowed friend manage her rental property, a suburban townhouse that was built in the 70’s. First we got a report that water was coming in through the windows, and they needed to be replaced. Then there was a lot of moisture in the basement, due to a number of issues, which caused mold to form. After getting several evaluations it was determined that the house is still safe to live in, but all the drywall and the full bath need to be ripped out and replaced. The tenants are freaking out, have decided to break the lease, and in the few days since the problem was identified have already found a new place to live. Meanwhile the landlord has been fighting with her homeowner’s insurance company– they want to drop her because she filed a claim for damages caused by recent flooding in her own basement (another suburban house built in the 70’s).

    In the meantime my 130-year-old rowhouse in DC is doing just fine. :)

  • Caroline

    Back in 2006 my cousin and I would go out to Utpoia every week for their Sunday evening jazz. It was a nice way to wind down the weekend. At the time we were both somewhat new to the area, living in Northern Virginia and not knowing anyone who actually lived in DC.

    One Sunday in the Spring it was pouring rain. Not wanting to drive in a torrential downpour, I called my cousin, who was already in the city, to cancel.

    A few hours later she called me in a panic. The streets were flooded, metro stations were closed, and the cab drivers claimed there was no way out of the city. One thoughtful cabbie offered to drop her off at a drug den club that was open all night. Another said the bridges into VA had collapsed.

    So I got in the car and drove into the city to see what was going on and hopefully rescue her. It was pretty bad, but getting in and out of DC was not the impossible feat that the cab drivers had made it out to be.

  • My uncontrollable amount of water story

    My ex and I were throwing a crazy party around christmas-time. The house was packed, and everyone was drunk out of their minds, so no one noticed or cared when the toilet on the second floor broke. All of a sudden there was water raining down into the kitchen. Luckily, there was a plumber at the party… named John!

  • victoria

    I grew up in an apartment and had never heard rain on a roof. I was 12-13, babysitting in a real house when a heavy rain began. I was totally freaked out – thought the house was collapsing.


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