Sunday, September 08, 2013

Opening the Floodgates

We had some kind of crazy, fluke disaster weather over the weeken--

Wait, no, let me start earlier.  Thirty years ago, RETURN OF THE JEDI opened, and my mom drove me to the city to watch it.  We spent that night at my grandmother's house, and all over the news was the crazy flooding that was going on all over the state (and maybe the country).  People were out sandbagging, cars and basements and streets and doghouses were flooded, and a little town was wiped clean off the map at the bottom of a canyon.*

So, for some reason, that sort of weather returned this weekend, and all of a sudden, a wall of water came down our street and washed, not into the gutters in front of the house, but down our driveway and into the basement.  I was not home to see this happen, but my sister took pictures and people in town posted hilarious videos of submerged cars, laughing teens waterskiing behind trucks, and a dude kayaking through our mall parking lot . . . all with the fucking phone turned on its side so you can't see any of what they're trying to shoot, but you get plenty of grey sky.  Bastardos suicios.

Well, apparently, the water arrived so fast, that it was impossible to prevent the destruction of a lot of what was in that basement.  Witnesses say that my big sister ran into my room down there and madly piled things up on the table and couch so no more damage would be done than already had been.  Neighbors came over--the ones who weren't also dealing with flooding, that is--my dad drove up, my uncle, the old guy who has a thing for my mother, and they used buckets and vacuums and the water equivalent of a snowplow to get the water out, while my brother-in-law pulled fallen trees (no joke) out of the gutter opening, so the water would go there instead.  By the time professional damage assessors arrived, most of the water had been redirected elsewhere, but it had gotten everywhere, from the stairs, to the corners, to my sister's room, to inside the closets, soaking the carpet, and leaving a line on the walls and doors to show how high the water got in.

I was out of town, and when I arrived, there was little I could do but help carry things upstairs and try to soak up muddy water from the floor.  A bunch of my comic books and books had been ruined, as well as half my CD collection (which I admit is an archaic and nearly-useless medium at this point), and it looked like the walls would have to be re . . . re-finished? as well as the floorboards, but I had gotten off easy, relatively (because of the heroics of my sister).  My closet is filled with, literally, hundreds of cardboard boxes, and they had soaked up an almost-laughable amount of water, filling up the whole blue garbage bin by themselves.

Today, though, it was time to go through and see what could be salvaged and what should be trashed.  We pulled up the carpet and pads, the wood around the doors, and tons of
I had boxes of books under the stairs I hadn't thought about, and much of those were destroyed, including my Stephen King collection, and the books from my childhood, as well as mementos from back then, including my baby book, my high school diploma, and my journal from my first year of college.  There were tons of photographs that I hadn't seen (or thought about) for many years, many of which had either stuck together, or run like watercolors.  I looked very, very young in them.

I went behind the door and discovered that my posters had soaked up water at the bottom, and it had crept up them like a creepy vine, ruining art, and prints, but mostly movie posters, including one signed by Stan Lee, one by Sam Raimi, one by Drew Struzan, and my INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS poster signed by Kevin McCarthy.  I didn't throw them away--it seemed too cruel--but my mom thinks a lot of the water will turn into mold eventually.

McCarthy is now dead, and in going through the tons of ruined books, I found the first edition of "I Am Legend," that I had spent way too much money on because I so loved that book.  It reminded me that, earlier this year, Richard Matheson died, and I never blogged about it.  I felt guilty about that, and thought, "I ought to stop looking at all this destroyed stuff, and go blog about him."  Weird, that.**

I found a bunch of college papers in a box, all soaked through, and threw away stacks of magazines, newspapers, and screenplays (all written by some dork who used to think he'd get to write for the movies).  In one notebook, I saw a story I wrote in 1994 called "Scritch" written in a blue pen, but once the ink had gotten wet, it had ran to the point where only the title and first sentence were legible.  I realized that I had never typed up that particular tale, and that it, about an old man or woman who is visited at night by something scratching at his/her door, is gone forever.  This isn't heartbreaking or anything, don't get me wrong, but it is strange to see it in my hand and realize that it's not recoverable.

Many folks from the neighborhood came over today, volunteering to put up sandbags, help tear out the carpet and the awful glued-to-the-cement padding beneath it, and carry stuff upstairs or outside

We were told that homeowners insurance does not cover an "Act of God," and that unless a pipe broke inside the house, there would be no coverage on their part.  They also told us that the story I had written in my notebook was not very good, and it's better off gone.

Rish Outfield, Floodthirsty

*My dad and uncle have a cabin in the woods and to get there, you have to drive through the remains of this little town.  To this day, there are still roofs sticking out of the water in what are now ponds, and it never ceases to amaze and disturb me to see these ruins (even though it's only, like, six houses total).  There's something post-apocalyptic about it, or hubristic, or at least historical, you know?

**Really, I do feel guilty for not saying something to honor Matheson.  I'm not a big reader, but he was a really wonderful writer, and both "I Am Legend" and "The Incredible Shrinking Man" were fantastic, engaging, throughtful books. 


Case_Sensitive said...

As a witness to many floods, I'm sorry for your loss. Even though you haven't looked at some of those things in a long time, the thought that they are gone forever is heartbreaking.

Now write a new story to replace the one that was lost.

ryanlb said...

Being that my basement also flooded, in that same storm, it's good for me to read about what others experienced, to remind me that the wet carpet I got was quite minor, almost trivial even, compared to the devastation some people had.

Good thing they told you about your terrible story, though.