Friday, September 26, 2008



I have erected a battlement - of sorts - in my yard in preparation for this weekend's coming storm.

Regular readers will know that I lost a great number of tools during some nasty flooding a couple weeks ago when Hurricane Hanna blew through. We had something like 40 inches of water in the basement. I was down there yesterday with my brother-in-law and showed him the high water mark on the furnace. He was duly impressed.

We didn't used to get floods like that, but it seems that in recent years things have gotten worse. A few years ago, when the state highway department re-built Route 3, which is the main (only) road through town, for some reason storm drains and culverts and ditches were eliminated. Don't know why. Only know that now our neighbor has to replace his crushed rock driveway at least three times a year because it all washes into our yard (hell on the mower!) and the water flows around and heads straight into the bulkhead and my cellar. It is most frustrating.

So anyway, we're due for a zinger again this weekend. Weather guy on TV says something like 4 to 6 inches of rain for our area. The low pressure pattern is familiar to us - it is a cyclical formation, less defined than a hurricane, that travels up the east coast and blasts Maine. The storm rotates counter clockwise as it travels to the northeast, which means our winds here on the coast tend to come from out of the east-northeast, as the storm swirls around. It hits us generally after spending some time over the ocean picking up additional moisture, which it drops when it gets over the land.

That may all be very wrong, but it is my understanding of what happens. If you can explain it better, have at it.

So anyway, we've got this nasty Nor'easter headed our way and I don't want to spend another Sunday morning sloshing around my basement chasing flotsam and waiting for the waters to recede.

Back to the battlement.

It's not a huge thing, really, just a row of regular cinder blocks laid end-to-end, holes up, in a rough kind of semi-circle around the uphill side of my house. On one side of the bulkhead, I built a deck. No sense in having a wall to keep the water out if it also makes it a pain in the tuckus to take out the trash or grill a steak, so I built above the wall. Actually, I incorporated the wall into the plan, running my joists out between every third block (three 16s make 4 feet) and building the thing so that the planks lay nearly on top of the blocks. This allows for support between the four-foot joists, and it covers the holes of the blocks.

I framed it together yesterday with the aforementioned brother-in-law, then banged down the planks this morning with my new nail gun. Let me say here and now, for the record, and in all seriousness: I have lived too many years without an air compressor and a nail gun. Damn, but that thing is a dream! That decking went on in less than an hour, and the most time-consuming part of it was carrying the planks from the delivery pile across the yard and laying them in place. That thing is awesome!

So anyway, I have a wall. And I think it will hold out the flood waters.

But I am still keeping the welder locked in the garage, well above the flood zone, until I know just how well my little invention works.


Snave said...

Whoa... good luck with the water! I may be repeating myself if I said this to you before, but when I had an inch or two of water in my basement I just about panicked. 40 INCHES!!? Scheise...

I was able to mop it out without much trouble, but the problem is that we have old stone walls in the basement with the concrete crap in between the stones getting old... and outside one particular wall there is no gutter on the roof, so when it rains the ground gets pounded and it happens to be porous ground... so. We're having a gutter put on that side of the house.

That's after we realized that the "grey water" coming in was from a bad connection to our sewer line. Aaaaack. A helpful plumbing company fixed that one for us, so from now on, any water that gets in will probably just be rainwater.

What would you do about the wall itself? Once there is no longer rainwater seeping in once the gutter is installed, I doubt we will have any more leaks... but I want to get that particular end of the basement cleaned up so I can possibly build some walls to cover the stones (en route to getting the basement semi-finished) or to at least build some shelving and actually store things there without it all growing a fine coat of mold/mildew/fur, etc.

I can tell you are a pro at this kind of thing, so thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!

And in the meantime, good luck again with keeping the water out! Sounds like you are getting very well prepared!

Robin said...

I didn't follow much of the technical explanation, but it certainly sounds well thought out and will hopefully do the trick for you! Here's to dry basements and dry tools.

Distributorcap said...

hope all goes well

i saw the thread over at demeur with gary old dude and bbc

what incredibly nasty and braindead people -- no wonder this country is falling apart

laughingatchaos said...

I've been thinking about you, hearing about the hurricane (!) heading your way. Good luck! Your dam looks like it will help quite a bit!

Marie said...

Wow. And I'm just now thinking bringing the grill inside would be a good thing. No doubt our basement will flood as usual. Our landlord keeps forgetting to fix the big crack under the window well that floods every time we get rain. Fortunately, we face South, but my neighbors often get water leaking into their living room (old brick bldgs w/lots of cracks). Water goes where it's easiest, so hopefully your wall will guide it away from your dwelling!

By the way, I finally made an apple pie w/a lard crust and it was quite delicious!