Someone build an Ark

It’s July 2004 and it is hotter than hell. In the wee morning hours a storm passed through – not that a storm is any concern – not to me at least until about 10:30 am when customers were rumbling about being flooded out.

I called home and asked the husband to check the basement which was followed by silence then asking the husband if we were flooded, I hear “Holy Shit”.

This is the beginning of getting to really know your city. Now this can be a very long enlightening story but I felt like keeping it short, sweet and simple.

You see, over the course of four very long years the husband and I became very educated about basements, storm sewers, backwater valves, drain tiles, sumps, EPA regulations, sewer projects, pumping stations, and I am sure – that I left a few things out.

Have that drink in your hand?

The short version:

July 2004 we are flooded out. Thousands of dollars in band equipment ruined (we had a gig that night), one washer, one dryer, antique cabinets ruined, hot water tank soaked, furnace bottom soaked, personal items trashed, carpet ruined – the whole content of the basement had to be emptied out and let’s face it, not very much went back in.

City states: 100 year storm.
This had never, ever happened before ever!

March 2005 the basement is rebuilt, every last block, new drain tiles (old ones broken and some packed with clay), new sump, drain tiles disconnected from city sewers (not like it made a difference because the tiles didn’t work any way, hence 4 bowing basement walls and little baby creeks on basement floor),

July 2005 we are flooded out again.WTF

City states: 100 year storm.
I’m kinda really starting to wonder about these 100 year storms.

Meetings are now being held by the city for affected areas. This is when the enlightenment happens. I am amazed at what I learned, not from my city, but from citizens.

For some this had been going on for 30 years, our City’s sewers are undersized. A project to correct the sewer issue had been stopped by our local administration. Pump stations break, sewers had not been maintained for the last 4 years and this list just went on and on.

We realize that one has to separate fact from fiction so with some help of some friends the digging started and low and behold – most of what was stated was true. We could not believe how much truth there was. So with that in mind, we will move along in the time line.

The project the city comes up with:

The plan was an increased water bill to the citizens to help loan money to the citizens so they may disconnect from the city’s laterals, and if they wanted they could also purchase a back-water valve – for the purpose of this story we will call it the “crap trap” – and your flooding problems will be solved for ever.

Well, the disconnecting and – if you so desired to purchase the “crap trap” went over like a fart in church, for it was very apparent that this was a money grab for the city. One only realizes this when you read the 50 plus pages of crap contained between the pretty glossy front and back cover. I really wondered how much that little promo package cost.

September 2005 it happened again, this was really bad at the lowest point in the basement 16” at the highest point 18”. I found poop in the water, poop, feces, shit, call what you want it was in our very new basement. Washer and dryer gone (again), furnace gone, the hot water tank wet again, I was working on 2 new cabinets and a new kitchen table – the table was floating like a boat. Cabinets were standing in submerged shitty water past the first shelf.

The city stated another 100 year rain, we have a new plan.

A new plan: Not! Part of the problem with the first plan and the new plan was enforcing this major change to these older homes and yes, all businesses were left out, they did not have to comply, there were problems with how to structure this program. A minor issue was the lack of a cut off date for when the bills would go back to the normal rate.

Yes, there were issues and the husband and I are very miffed because we spent a shit load of money on a new foundation and accessories, we did the project the correct way and the city will not do what it should do the correct way – which is finish the damn sewer project.

June 2006 it happened again. At this point the contents of our basement are now 2 feet off the floor. We use indoor-outdoor carpeting these days and all I can do is laugh as I am talking on the phone to our council person early in the morning watching our street flood out. My council person asked me how would you and the husband like to be a test subject for the “crap trap”?

Oh friends, when the city is asking you to be a test subject one would expect the best of city services right? I am sorry to report that couldn’t be further from the truth. You see out of this nasty issue a much focused local blog came out on the scene. We were the city’s biggest pain in the ass, they needed the seal of approval which would come from us and as it was stated from the start; this will be blogged about, the good, the bad and the ugly.

They screwed the whole job up, what should have been a 4’x 6’ area turned in to the whole front yard, one severed water main (water feature), many city workers to fix broken water main. Day two, TV the sewer to find the connection (what a novel idea), dig another hole, and put in the crap trap. The front yard is trashed, the sidewalk is trashed and we are not very happy campers and yes, it was all blogged about.

Eleven days go by and the husband and I are leaving for a 24 hour adventure in another city. I will not repeat the foul trucker mouth I developed when I went to wash a load of laundry. There was poop on the floor, floating in the drain hole in the floor. The “crap trap” failed and there was something very wrong. This prompted very nasty phone call because there was no way in hell I was canceling our trip due to the “crap trap”.

These people actually made it out that it was due to our old house. The line was TV-ed (again) and they found nothing wrong. Well, there is something wrong because there is poop in the hole in the floor that wasn’t there before. We had our drains snaked out and there was no blockage – a waste of $100.00 – they insisted we had a blockage in our stack.

Contacts and research are very powerful tools. The city was caught in lie after lie. The city stating that we failed a load test when actually there never was a load test and that the device didn’t have to be plum. We found out through research, help of friends in the construction trade and e-mailing the manufacture of the product that it had to be installed plum. It was simple the crap trap had needed to be plum from driveway to driveway – pesky old gas line in the way. All of this was discovered after we requested in writing an inspection which meant they had to dig it all up again.

It is a very good idea to add the #57 (I believe) stone prior to installing the product, no! It is very funny when the head of the building department points out that the device sunk ½” due to no stone. The product had to be plumb west to east and it was not. Needless to say that this time around it was very well documented by the city. We passed our load test. The product was actually inspected this time. All of this could have been avoided had the city done the job correct from the start.

This whole event put a huge strain on our relationship with the city, caused us major stress and they didn’t get their seal of approval because we don’t trust the product not to fail. Our city did finally complete the sewer project – kinda – I see portable pumps running during rain events. I’m kinda thinking that the project isn’t really done but usable some what. We haven’t flooded in over a year but we still run to the basement every time it rains.


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