I was so busy making preserved lemons Saturday that I didn't start my errands until early afternoon, and the clear hot morning was starting to turn into ominous clouds. I figured, hey, I won't melt, and blithely headed off to Home Depot.
It started to rain about 4 blocks from Home Depot, and started to POUR about 2 blocks away. I took advantage of the pedestrian free sidewalks instead of riding in the giant puddle on the right side of a busy road that makes up those last two blocks.
Amazingly, I found covered parking for Gilbert in the garage of the building next door to Home Depot, and just got wetter on the way across the adjoining parking lot. I bought the liquid nails, couple of paint brushes and canvas drop cloth I came for, although not the hostas I was looking for, and it looked like the rain had mostly subsided when I checked out.
On the way home though it started to really really come down. There were giant puddles on the pathway from the earlier rain, and between the splashing up from those and the raining down from the sky, I was completely drenched pretty quickly. Which wasn't such a big deal, I was headed home, figured I'd just change at home. Once you're wet, it doesn't matter if you get wetter, and most of the few people on the path looked like they had surrendered to it, and were in pretty good spirits. There were lots of smiles and shrugs- a camaraderie of slight misfortune. Although the drops were coming down so hard it was almost painful, they were warm, and it wasn't until about 1/2 mile from home when it started to lightning that I got a bit nervous.
Unfortunately, there was a disaster awaiting me at home.
Back when Cambridge was built, the storm water and the sewage were all carried away in one set of pipes (back in the day, those pipes led directly to the Charles, but that's a different story). Unfortunately they haven't updated them all to the modern system of separate sewage and storm water drains.
When I got home, I heard a rushing water noise from the basement, and descending, discovered 2 inches of water standing in the basement, and more rushing up though the toilet.
Yes, that 2" of water in the basement was raw sewage.
So instead of spending a lazy Sunday afternoon adjusting Gilbert's rack to perfectly level, and using the new saddle treatment that arrived in the mail Friday, the Scientist and I spent the rest of the weekend vacuuming up sewage from the carpet and the floors, ripping out said carpeting and pad and sewage soaked subfloor, bleaching the bejeazus out of the main room's floor, and sorting everything that was in the basement into "toss", "disinfect", and "uncontaminated", piles, and then bagging it, disinfecting it, or moving it up into our (now very full) living room.
We still have to bleach the floor in the boiler room, but hopefully that will be finished tonight and we can start to figure out what's next.
Folks, if you finish out a basement, or if you build a new house, especially if you live in an older city or suburb where they have combined lines, put a sewage backflow preventer valve on any basement fixtures, or the whole house if you're allowed. They need to be cleaned out every couple of years, but they can prevent a world of nastiness.
Retrofitting one is tough, although we're going to see what can be done, so it's good to be aware of the issue before you build.