Thursday, April 26, 2007

When It Rains, It Pours, So Thank Heaven for Friends

With the recent return of Cap'n Shack-Fu from New Mexico, we decided to have a HyperForce 3000 gathering* this previous Tuesday. The plan had been to go to dinner at Chili’s and then head to the Cinemark to see Hot Fuzz. However, the possibility of us getting together was put into question by the torrential downpour, flash floods, and tornadic activity forecast for our area that evening. The rain had been coming down hard and heavy for hours by the time I finally left work. My cell phone rang as I was about halfway home, but since all of my concentration was focused on trying to keep my car from dying in the middle of the flooded streets, I let it go to voicemail. When I got home at around 4:30, I first took off my drenched shoes and socks which were filled with water from having to walk from my office to my car, and then from my car into my house. My next step was to return the missed phone call. As I was starting to chat with my fellow HyperForcer about the worsening weather conditions, I walked from the entryway into the dining room, and then into the living room; it was at this point that I wondered to myself "Hey, my shoes and socks are off, so why are my feet still making squishing noises?" I then turned and looked through the patio doors into the backyard where I saw The Anti-Cap'n's dog standing in water so high it was seeping in through the doorway. I informed the other end of the phone that my place was being flooded; luckily, the person at the other end of the phone happened to be FEMA worker, firefighter, soldier, and borderline super-hero Cap'n Shack-Fu who said "Dude, I'm on my way."

While I waited for Cap'n Shack-Fu to ride to the rescue, I started trying to minimize damage as best I could inside. The carpet in the living room was pretty saturated with water, but it luckily hadn't made it over to the dining room area where my computer sat; I quickly made the rounds lifting all electric equipment off of ground, which is when I discovered that the carpet under the surge protectors for the TV, VCR, DVD player, etc. was even more soaked than anything else -- if I had been any later coming home we would have at least had some fried electronics, and at worst, a nice little electrical fire.

After unplugging items and moving as much stuff off the ground as I could, I then ran upstairs, grabbed the laundry basket of towels I had just gotten done washing, and applied them at the base of the patio doors both inside and out; I knew it was ultimately a futile move, but I figured every little bit would help buy us time. It was while I was packing the towels down outside that Cap'n Shack-Fu showed up. It took him just a few seconds to assess the flooded back yard and construct a plan of attack, which basically consisted of prying apart part of the backyard fence and digging up the fallow flower bed so that some of our flooding which flow into a neighbor's relatively flood-free yard. Shack-Fu and I spent the next bit of time prying up boards and digging channels for the water to flow through; we then used the loose boards to erect a mini dam around the patio doors to block off the water, and also tried to shore up the fence on the other side of the yard which was pouring water onto us through the gaps that so often lead to Jake's escape when we first moved in. All of this was done in water that was at least calf-deep while rain continued to hammer down on us.

After a little bit, Fluffy came into the back-yard; Cap'n Shack-Fu had picked her up from her job, since the roads there were bad, and she had been sitting in his truck staying dry. Unfortunately, that wasn't going to be working much longer, as the water on Benjiman had started to rise at an alarming rate, so she came to let Shack know so that he could move the vehicle. He did so, rescuing a stranded car or two while he did so. When he came back we did a little more work, and then he decided that we had probably done all we could for the time being, and that it was probably time to head inside and start trying to salvage as much as possible. So, the three of us headed inside and began moving as much as we could out of the flooded areas. Luckily, the way the house is designed there's a brick entryway which acted as a nice buffer between the flooding living room/dining room/kitchen and the rest of the downstairs, which includes the laundry room and PigPen's bedroom, so we didn't have to haul things up stairs, just deposit them in the drier zones.

"Speaking of PigPen," you may ask, "where was he during all this? And the Anti-Cap'n too, for that matter." Well, at the time I discovered the flooding, they were both about 45 minutes away from Denton -- 45 minutes away on a good day, that is. But with the weather the way it was . . . Plus, I wasn't able to get ahold of either of them for a while; Fluffy managed to reach The A.C. to let him know what was happening (he was stuck in traffic at the time), and I left PigPen a voicemail. So, right around the time we finished triaging the affected inside areas, I got a call from Peanut, wondering what was going on with our dinner and a movie plans; I told him about the current situation. Peanut, who lives about 30 minutes northwest of Denton, replied, "I'll be there in 5 minutes," and hung up. I chastised myself for not calling him earlier to keep him from making the trek in the crazy weather, although even if I had he probably would have come down to help out anyway.

By the time Peanut arrived, we had done just about all we were going to be able to do without majorly rearranging the garage to make room. Peanut told us that he had talked to PigPen right before he called us, and apparently PigPen hadn't checked his voicemail because he hadn't mentioned anything about flooding. I called PigPen up to tell him the situation, and to ask him to call our landlord, since I didn't have his number. The storm had started to die off a bit, so the four of us at the house decided that since we had done just about all we could think of at the time we would brave the roads in order to get something to eat. Cap'n Shack-Fu and Fluffy got into the Shack-mobile, while I clambered up into Peanut's big ol' truck. We could see a guy standing out in the middle of the street, and the water was up maybe to his knees, which was nowhere near deep enough to give Peanut's truck problems. However, as we moved down the street, it became obvious pretty quickly that the water got deeper as we went along, rising up to the level of his bumper. We made it through with no problems, but I instantly got on the phone to let both of my roomies know that (a) we were going to go get some food if they wanted to meet up with us and (b) if they did decide to drive home instead, they should be very, very careful.

They both decided to head to Arby's to meet us; we had a nice little break from the frantic rushing around, which is when we realized that none of us had talked to Li'l Dill. I called him up and found out that he was at his apartment without access to the Night Roller; when I told him what was going on he offered to borrow a friend's car and come help out, but I told him to stay home. Also got a call from Cap'n Bumper wanting to see if he could help out, but I told him the same thing; didn't want anyone else getting out in the middle of that weather that didn't have to, especially since the break in weather wasn't supposed to last too long. We got word that the second wave was moving our way, so we headed back to the house to see if there was anything else we could do.

In the amount of time it took us to eat at Arby's, the water on Benjiman had totally disappeared; you never would have guessed that there had been water waist-high just half an hour earlier. The water had also lowered quite a bit in the back yard, so we were able to see several pieces of lumber which had been obscured by the muddy water earlier. Cap'n Shack-Fu set the rest of us to work digging up the wood and mud to increase our drainage and then using the mud and wood we dug up to try to dam up the water pouring in from other areas**; he, meanwhile, headed off with Fluffy to rescue poor Squiggly, whose brand new car had been stranded over by TWU. After a while, we decided that we had probably done all the good we could do for our yard; PigPen headed over to our neighbors into whose yard we had been directing the water to offer to dig them a channel for the water to flow out of their yard as well.

Around this time The Anti-Cap'n's brother-in-law called him up*** to offer to pick The A.C. up so that he could crash at their house for the evening; meanwhile, Peanut had offered his place as a refuge for PigPen and myself. Cap'n Shack-Fu and company returned, and he did a quick inspection of our work to see if he could think of anything else to do. We all then headed off to our respective sanctuaries for the evening in hopes of making it to shelter before the next wave struck. Luckily, the next wave pretty much bypassed Denton, so our hurried defensive measures were able to hold up without having to endure too much testing.

By the time we reached Peanut's place, it was probably close to 9:30; my brain was pretty frazzled by that point. Wait, let me rephrase that: my brain had been pretty frazzled from the moment I realize our house was being flooded; 5 hours later it was really, really, really frazzled. My state of mind wasn't helped too much by the fact that I had dropped my still-pretty-new cell phone into the muddy water at one point, and it had decided to take its revenge on me by not charging its battery and scrolling through random menus and key entries without being touched almost like it was possessed; PigPen amused himself the rest of the evening by repeatedly asking me how my service was.

Although it was a pretty stressful night -- not to mention a tad depressing -- I know that we were incredibly fortunate. Sure, it did take the carpet guys until sometime Thursday afternoon to finally show up and rip up the still sopping wet (and by then foul smelling) carpet, but at least that was all the damage we really suffered. Honestly, outside of some damp furniture and possibly water-damaged computer desk, all of our personal property seems fine. And yes, it was an incredibly stressful evening, but it also showed me the blessing I have in having so many friends ready and willing to lend a helping hand when necessary. So, just a moment here to say thanks to Fluffy for her help with the initial containment; thanks to Cap'n Bumper, Li'l Dill, Squiggly, et al for their sincere offers of aid; thanks to Peanut for his help playing in the mud and his putting us up for the evening; and an extra-special, super-de-duper, HyperForce 3000 thank you to Cap'n Shack-Fu, without whose help I would have been a quivering mass of neurotic jello five minutes into the crisis.

Many many thanks to you all.

*A.K.A. Guy's Night Out
**It was during this time that PigPen nearly fell after stepping into hole dug by The A.C.'s dog, crying out "Stupid Jake hole!" I immediately asked "Who you calling a Jake-hole?" And thus, another faux expletive is added to our repertoire
***The A.C.'s bro-in-law also told him that he had just seen a news report with a helicopter flying over Denton, showing some group of fools digging up their back yard to stop the flooding . . .


Redneck. Diva. said...

When you said to go read the latest blog post I never dreamed the crisis you were alluding to was a FLOOD!! (Not exactly sure what I thought it was, but not a flood for sure.)

Aren't friends wonderful? You kind of forget how durn blessed you are until they all show up on your doorstep to dig around in the mud of your flooded backyard.

Hope things are settling down now!