Sunday, September 27, 2009

Photos of September 2004 And the Flood Waters Rose...

2004 Flood...the photos
This is one of the first images we saw of our neighborhood
The tree "line" you see at the top of the photo
is the Delaware & Raritan Canal.
Our house is just in front of the clump of trees
a third of the way down from the top & right in
the middle of the photo (too bad I don't know
how to edit to put a big red circle around it.)

You can see how the "back" of the neighborhood
is still dry ground.
Our neighbors behind us had no water...(in this flood.)

All the "stuff that accumulated against the fence

behind our house...much of it was NOT ours!

The top of the 4' fence was the "high water mark"

at the back of our house...

Hydrostatic Pressure damage to the "upriver"
side of our basement walls.
Significant restoration work was needed to repair this.

Much of our property piled up in front of our house.
Thank Goodness for all the help we got...
We never could have done all of this so quickly!
The Trash company decided to do "extra" pick-ups for
the entire week...Our stuff alone probably filled
half of the truck...cudos to them for making the effort
to help us all clean out the junk in DAYS.
How High the river still was...
"on the road" on Monday evening...
we were able to drive in on Tuesday.

The view at the foot of our basement steps...
before we got a sump pump running to drain
the rest of the standing water.
The shelf lying on it's side held art stuff as well as extra
"pantry" stuff, like pasta and canned goods...YUCK.
Keep in mind it was PITCH DARK
with no power when this photo was taken...
it looks "better" because of the camera's flash.

This is an Entertainment system that DH and I
built together while we were expecting Scooter...
The turntable was on the bottom left (trashed)
and all our "Home Videos" in the
drawer on the bottom right.
We couldn't imagine them being salvagable,
but we put them in a box because we
couldn't bear to throw them away...

(notice the portfolio in the background of this photo...

It was all of the artwork that I had taken OUT of

the minivan...SOME of it was ruined...

most of it dried...damaged : (

Hard to believe, but our Living/ Dining room carpet

WAS white...

The ottoman next to the couch was another

"project" that DH and I created...It housed all of the girls

dress-up stuff...the lid lifted off!

Lovey built the box, I upholstered it...

It went in the trash

with most of the other upholstered furniture...

except the chair on the right,

which only got wet at the "skirt"...the chair was fine...

this made me happy,

because the chair had belonged to my mother

This is the way that the Good Lord protected
my lilac bush...I don't think it would have survived the
the force of the water & debris if the fence post
hadn't risen and wedged against our driveway.
This was the ONLY spot where a fence post
came out of the ground!
(the lilac was a mother's day gift from
my mother-in-law several years before...
it is still my current backyard)
We tied up the canoe INSIDE the fence during the
evening before we left...the river rose about 12"
above the fence in the "front yard"...
All the stuff that I left sitting on the picnic table
and benches stayed dry...It was all of my
painting stuff that I used when working on the
playground mural...
This is what the contents of our basement looked like
stuffed into contractor plastic bags...
Members of The Knights of Columbus as well as many other
friends and aquaintences worked with us for days
clearing all this stuff out and washing down
the things that we could salvage...
Our Parish Priest was there slogging our trash
for us too...what a great guy he is!
We made sure that he was the one to Baptize
Snorkie Boy when he was born!
I promise the next "chapter of the story"
before next weekend....

The Morning After

It was Sunday morning, September 19, 2004.
We awoke after a rather short night and much worry,
showered, dressed and took the girls down to the
hotel breakfast room. We discovered that we were among
many in our neighborhood that wound up
at that particular "Macintosh" hotel.
We also discovered that we were National News!
Watching our town engulfed in water on TV was
We checked out, not knowing what to do next...
except that we had to get to Mass.
Our Pastor spoke about the need to postpone our
Annual Parish Picnic that afternoon due to the
"difficulties of our neighbors in the flooded areas of town"...
He went on and on... making me wonder
if we would have water above the roof line...
My Darling Husband tried to track down a youth group volunteer
to give them a donation and ran into an aquaintance from the
Knight of Columbus. They exchanged pleasantries and then
Lovey blurted out that we really had NO IDEA where we would
live for the forseeable future. That wonderful guy immediately
invited the four of us home with he and his wife. WHEW!
They fed us and helped us to get some info and then we ran to
Walmart because we had NO CLOTHING AT ALL !!!
Our daughters fell "In Love" with the man of the house...
he is a big, cuddly, teddybear of a man who loves children.
(let DH and I get out to do some stuff and when
we came back, both girls were sitting with him
on his BIG chair watching Sleeping Beauty!)
We tried not to watch too much coverage while the girls
were awake, but at night, we couldn't help ourselves.
I began to pray that the water would stop rising
below the 4 foot mark. I had a picture on the wall
in the girls room that my mother had made in school
when she was about ten years old.
I thought that if only that picture was spared,
I would be OK.
DH and "teddybear" got a look at the house from
the back of the neighborhood on Monday afternoon...
Blessedly, the water had stopped rising and began to receed
as of Sunday night...We got into the house onTuesday.
Because of the elevation of the house,
we had 8-10 inches of water in the "upstairs"
(remember, it is a ranch house so everything was
on the first floor) of the house.
The basement had filled completely.
We stayed with the Teddybear & his wife for a week.
The mess was incredible. The only visual description
I can give is of a local pond where everyone is encouraged
to dump unwanted stuff... for 20 years...then drain the pond...
THAT'S what my basement looked like.
We threw out lots of wet stuff from upstairs that I
later realized could have been washed...
but there was little looking back...
what can you do about it now?
We spent the first day
(when we still had running- cold-water)
salvaging what we could from the basement.
One wrench in the works was that I was
5 months pregnant with Snorkie at the time
and really had to be careful about the (semi-treated) sewage
and propane oil that had contaminated the flood waters...
(and made EVERYTHING smell awful for months).
We wore masks and gloves and grungy clothing and used
Gallons and Gallons of BLEACH.
I spent a good deal of time at the house,
thanks to Grammy watching the girls
& even taking them overnight one night.
That first week was a revelation.
It is amazing what the power of friendship,
volunteerism and hard work acn do for the spirit.
I will never forget
the effort and help of relatives, friends & strangers.
To be continued...some more.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

An Unusual Anniversary, or If You Really Want to Make God Laugh, Tell Him Your Plans!

In September of 2004 I had been working for two years
with a few other women in our small river town
of Yardley, Pennsylvania
to design and build a children's playground.
September 19th was to be our GRAND OPENING!
We had a beautiful reception on Saturday the 18th
for all the "Major Sponsors" that donated $1,000, or more.
It was held at the lovely historic Library at Lake Afton.
Many of our corporate sponsors were local Realtors.
One of the Realtors,
knowing how the home prices were still rising,
told me that if I ever wanted to sell,
she would be glad to handle the house.
I told her that I intended to "grow old" in my house.
(I think I actually said that I would die in that house.)
I LOVED where I was living...
one block in from the Delaware River,
one block over from the
Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park.
I could walk up town to the store, post office, playgound...
We canoed on the canal with the girls in the summertime,
bicycled and walked on the Canal Path...
The weather was yucky that weekend
and we had to postpone the Grand Opening.
Predictions were for rain and chill,
due to the remnants of Hurricane Ivan
passing through Pennsylvania and upstate New York.
By the time I got home from the little "party",
My husband had gotten word that we should move
our cars out of the neighborhood.
Often, when the river rose, it would block off our
little area of Yardley by flooding Delaware Avenue
and make it impossible to get around.
The "back" of the neighborhood was dry,
but you couldn't get to town from there by car
because of the canal.
We emptied the minivan of all the Homeschool Co-op stuff
I had in the back and loaded up the "mural"
that I had painted to be hung on the back wall
of the playground.
We moved the cars uptown to a municipal parking lot,
and decided to grab some dinner at a local restaurant
overlooking the river.
We learned some things...including that NOAA
was predicting major flooding...
we didn't know what that meant really...
but when we got home, we started bringing things
up from the basement "just in case".
Our house was only 20 years old, so it had been built to newer
code requirements and was elevated above the road somewhat.
Our home was a 1,000 square foot rancher
with a 1,000 square foot basement
(multiplied by the 7 foot ceilings,
made 7,000 CUBIC feet of storage).
We had a VERY FULL basement.
We joked that this would help us get the basement
cleaned up once and for all....LOL.
We worked all evening trudging stuff up,
somewhat indescriminently...
I left BOTH of my sewing machines,
too many art materials and art works to count,
all the scrapbooking stuff/photos that were already organized,
all of our old vinyl records, lots of decorator items...UGH.
We realize at about midnight that we were going to have to
At around 1:00am, we woke the girls
(who were 3.5 & 5.5 years old at the time)
We gathered clothes for Sunday Mass,
one toy for each of the girls,
and hiking out the back of the neighborhood,
each of us carrying a sleepy daughter,
got to our car and rented a hotel room for the night.
I'll admit,
we were still chuckling...singing"Climb Every Mountain"
and debating whether we should have
turned off the power to the sump pump,
we thought it might only be a little water in the basement...
We were WRONG, Very Very WRONG. be continued.
Hopefully Blogger will let me upload some photos next time...