Howdy folks,

I wanted to let folks know how we're doing & it seemed easiest to do it this way, with a "quick & dirty" no frills web page. If you don't want to scroll through the pictures & so forth, you don't have to -- the short version is: the cat Jessica & I are fine, we had some rough moments & Jessica was especially indignant at the rude changes to her routine, but we're fine. The house sustained some damage, especially the basement and the porch. I haven't had the heart or health to check the out-buildings yet. That's about it for the short version, so you can stop reading now (I do hope this won't be all of you ...).

A week before Mother's Day, Sunday May 7th, was absolutely gorgeous. Not a cloud in the sky, not too hot, not too cold -- a perfect day. I went scampering off to perhaps my favorite place on earth, a state park down in MA called Maudslay, which rests on the banks of the Merrimack River in Newburyport. (see this image for an example of what I did while I was there) It was a good day, despite some health issues cropping up for me (that's hardly unexpected, after all). Starting Monday, it began to rain and it continued to rain off & on all week long. Friday night's ballgame at Fenway was played in a veritable deluge & called off as quickly as possible. The rest of the weekend's series was canceled, mostly because Friday night was the onset of a monster rain storm, which dumped on already saturated ground upwards of 20 inches of rain in the Merrimack Valley area (where I live, about an hour north of Boston). Saturday was brutal. And by Sunday morning the reports of flooding began. By noontime Sunday my sump pump was running full-out and was no match for the incoming water. There was, at that time, about 5-6 inches of water on the floor. By Monday mid-morning, there would be 20 inches there & basically everything in the cellar was ruined. Wading through that awful fetid nasty "water" wasn't too much fun either -- there was just enough toxicity from leaked heating oil to burn my legs & feet. This did not make me a very happy person. Especially since I'd not had any heat or hot water from Saturday night onward so there was no decent way to clean up.

The pond in my front yard, Sunday May 14th.

My basement with about 17 inches of water in it. The water was every bit as nasty as it looks. (The boxes of booze were empty when I picked them up to store stuff.)

Another look, this time toward the furnace (the motor long-since submerged) and the washing machine (kaput).

The sump pump was completely over-matched and the hosing outside had been tampered with as well, which helped make it singularly ineffectual (I doubt it could have kept up in any case, to be fair). I tried to fix the hose, but the rush of water coming out of it made it impossible & it was a singularly cold, wet & miserable experience to stand in my back yard in what was quickly becoming a marshland, trying to fix something that wasn't going to be fixed.

It was around this time I went to the fire department to ask them what I should do. They became over the course of the next few days my heroes, as they eventually pumped out the basement five separate times and kept the damage largely confined to the basement, for which I am extremely thankful. They were wicked impressed at the amount of water in my cellar too, especially that first time. ;-)

It's difficult to convey how scary this picture is unless you know the topography of the area -- it had never come close to flooding, and it's on a hill. I was flabbergasted when I came across this on my way to the fire station.

As I drove across town & dealt with the fire dept and the dire need for chocolate, I realized that things were very bad when I saw this near my town's main road -- it's normally a tiny little trickle, it barely warrants the name "creek:"

Now I'm fairly isolated since I don't watch TV and can't hear it for beans anyway, but I had been following along to some extent with what was happening via the internet & it was Monday afternoon, as a group of large brawny fellows labored away at pumping out my house, that the news started to filter through that the floodwall in Haverhill had been topped, and further than the sewage line had ruptured, sending hundreds of thousands of raw sewage into the Merrimack River. As I live in the next town north from Haverhill, this was singularly unpleasant news and a bit scary too: the floodwall had never been breached since it was erected following a particularly nasty flood in 1936.

(go to page 2 for the next thrilling installment)