All summer long, flooding has ravaged the world. Within the last couple weeks alone, thousands have died and millions people have been displaced in places like Pakistan, central China (including Sichuan, Gansu and Weinan) and northeast China and North Korea (along the Yalu River very close to Tonghua, where I used to live). Floodings apparently followed us home this summer.
As troubling as those floods are, this story isn't about the kind of real life-threatening floods that kill people and ruin lives. This is about the kind of floods that comes from pipes. More of an inconvenience than anything.
Four times in the last few months, we've had to deal with our own floods. Call it the Summer of the Flood.
It all started in China. As you may remember, Ruth posted about me waking up in the middle of the night wet because water was dripping from the ceiling onto my bed. We were afraid there was a huge water leak, but we discovered that it was due to a leaky hose on Christina's washing machine, which had been pouring water into her laundry porch, then seeping into the floorboards right above our ceiling and percolating down through cracks in our ceiling. Thankfully it was an easy fix and as soon as she replaced the hose, the dripping went away.
Apparently the water troubles followed us home this summer: three times in the last three weeks, we've spent hours trying to get water out of the basement here in Georiga.
First, the washing machine flooded. Anna had gone down to move her laundry into the dryer and came rushing back upstairs shouting, "the basement is flooded!" The water was a couple inches deep in places, and covered about one-third of the basement floor, but we were able to get it all out with a few hours of sweeping, squeegeeing and Shop-Vacking the soapy floors. When Ruth's Dad got home from work, he figured out what had happened: Apparently a mouse had chewed its way through a plastic hose, making the washing machine unable to shut itself off. He fixed the hose, so we figured that the problem would go away. It didn't.
A few days later, the washer flooded again. Apparently mice like to eat plastic hoses. I recalled my Honda Civic, which I just sold last month right as we were leaving California (thank you Craigslist). While we were away in China, mice had eaten through the plastic windshield wiper fluid container, prompting my Dad to leave rat poison in a tray under the hood, next to the replacement. This Georgia mouse ate through his second hose in less than a week.
Thankfully, we'd honed the cleanup process a bit, and since most of the boxes in the garage were still displaced from the previous flood, we got the majority of the water out within an hour or so. Washing machine hoses have been replaced with something more indestructible, but a washing machine watch has come into effect any time a load of laundry needs to be done. An exterminator came and trapped the culprits. Ruth's parents decided now's the time to buy a new washing machine. Ruth's mother and sister even went and rescued a cat from a couple on Craigslist looking for a good home for their pet (the local animal shelter apparently only had two waiting for homes, so they branched out) hoping to keep the mice away. If only she'd leave the friendly confines of the carpeted upstairs climb downstairs onto the slippery hardwood floors once in a while, she might drive away the mice. Then again, she might see a mouse and get so frightened that she'd dart right back upstairs. She's still a bit jumpy.
The fourth incident came last night. It was late and I couldn't sleep. So, after an hour of tossing and turning, somewhere around 1 a.m., I decided to go into the other room to read a bit. The refrigerator was making some strange sounds, but I figured that it was just the ice maker, since it sometimes emits some strange groans and Ruth's Dad had just fixed a problem with it last week.
An hour later, when I figured I was finally tired enough to get some sleep, I made my way through the kitchen and found myself sloshing through water. I rushed and turned on the light. Water was seeping out from under the fridge. A huge puddle had formed in front of it. I didn't want to wake everyone else, so I grabbed some towels and sopped up the mess so the hardwood floors wouldn't be ruined. Then I realized that water was still coming out. I rushed down to the basement, looking for a shutoff valve to turn off the water (keep in mind, this is Ruth's parent's home, so I don't know where these valves are).
Flipping on the light and turning the corner, I couldn't believe my eyes.
The floor was flooded. Again. I stared in dismay. Water was seeping through the ceiling. At least this time the washing machine wasn't the culprit.
I woke up Ruth and she awakened her parents. We repeated the same process as with the washing machine in hopes of saving the basement from mold damage. Thankfully, the water was only an inch deep and limited thus far to about a quarter of the basement, but it was the same part as had flooded before. We realized that water was seeping into the fuse box, so we turned off the power to that section of the basement so we wouldn't get electrocuted. Ruth's father sopped out the water and covered it. We set to work on moving work benches, covering tools and squeegeeing the water out. Candy kept saying, "You're never going to want to come home again."
By 3:30 a.m., we had turned on the dehumidifier (something I never would have dreamed of, coming from dry Southern California, where we use swamp coolers to ADD humidity to the air), dried up the rest of the water under the fridge, and gone back to bed.
For the first time I can remember, it was a blessing that I couldn't sleep. I can't imagine how flooded the basement would have been in the morning otherwise, considering this was probably less than an hour's worth of flooding. But now we can't help but wonder, when will it happen again? What other appliance will fall apart and flood the basement? It's gotten to the point where, when Ruth's Mom calls home, she starts by asking, "Has anything else gone wrong?"