Ah, there’s nothing like a little Category 1 hurricane to make life interesting. Apparently all of these New Yorkers are now bellyaching about how Irene didn’t give them enough of an ass whooping, but I had my fill. And my fill was tame compared to what others on the East Coast had to deal with. Not to mention that members of my family faced threats of tornadoes, power outages, fallen trees, etc. Irene was no Katrina, but some of my fellow New Yorkers need a bit of an attitude check.
As Irene arrived on Saturday evening, I spent some time with some colleagues, and after they left around midnight, I proceeded to fall asleep on my couch until 3:00am. I woke up, news coverage blaring, heavy rain falling, and wind blowing. I also suddenly got a text from my boyfriend telling me that four of his windows had blown open, and one of them had to be nailed shut to keep it closed. I quickly felt around my apartment, checking the areas that tend to get damp in a heavy rain, and everything was fine. Buster and Dusty and I headed to bed, and I set the alarm for 7:00am.
When the alarm went off a few hours later, I groggily hit the snooze button and turned over. I could hear the rain hitting the window, but the sound was pretty typical for a rain storm. As I turned back over, I realized that I also heard a dripping sound that was not the large bubbling fountain that I have for the cats. “Here we go,” I thought, as I jumped out of bed. I had moved a hutch and placed a garbage pail underneath the place that has leaked three times in past heavy rains. But that’s in my dining room. It only took four steps before I was stepping on sopping wet carpet just outside of my bedroom door. Water was seeping in where the floor met the wall, and the carpet was soaked. Now mind you, I’m on the sixth floor of a fourteen story tower, so this is an interesting way to get leaks.
I moved out into the apartment to find a bubble in my dining room ceiling, dripping water steadily into the garbage pail. The carpet was wet in that room as well, even though I was catching the water falling from the ceiling. Again, more seepage from the walls. Still raining heavily. I moved to the parts of the living room that have historically had leaks, and those areas were wet as well. I called the Public Safety officer in my building and an engineer responded in minutes. By 7:30am he and another facilities person were sucking up water with a massive wet vacuum. After the carpet was less sopping, we agreed that they would return around 12:30pm to do more water clean up. It was still raining, and we knew that there would be more leaking.
We didn’t make it to 12:30pm. By about 9:30am or so, puddles were forming in two places on my carpet. I called for assistance, and more people came up to assess. They decided to check the apartment above me, only to find that it was flooded with two inches of water on the floor. They speculate the gasket around the window failed. Hence, the water in certain parts of my apartment. That’s the theory anyway. So they left to suck up that water first to try to stop the leaking in the apartment. An hour or so later, my bathroom wall and ceiling developed a ripple and a bubble respectively, and there was water all over the floor. Somehow, a fifth leak had erupted in this area. And I realized that my air conditioner had shut down. I notified the facilities people, and about 30 minutes later, seven people descended on the apartment and started the clean up effort. It was just in time, as Buster and Dusty were about to put their kitty swimmies on. And the air conditioner was fixed a couple of hours later. The people who came to help me today were great. I’m very lucky and very grateful. Having said that, I would like to know why my apartment has flooded so many times in the six years I’ve lived here, but maybe that’s another blog post.
It’s 11:00pm on Sunday evening. I have three large dehumidifiers and a large industrial fan running, all trying to get the moisture out of the carpet. It’s starting to smell like mold, which is a delightful smell to go to sleep with.
Overall, I’m lucky. None of my personal belongings were damaged. I never lost power. I’m safe. My boyfriend is safe. My cats are safe. And my family members are safe, even though they had their own floods and tornado warnings and power losses. We’re all lucky. Irene was an experience, but more an experience of inconvenience than one of devastation. There were moments today when I probably acted like my ceiling was caving in or something worse, but I’m alive and unscathed. People lost property, loved ones, and assets as a result of this storm, and I need to keep that in perspective. I’ll still complain about the flooding and the smell it has caused, and I’m going to try and get to the bottom of the recurring leaking problem. However, I’ll do that with the knowledge that my hurricane experience was a walk in the park compared to most.