Living, working, and playing in Mazatlan, Mexico

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The Art of Scooting Water

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Rainy season always brings new and interesting challenges, and this year is no different. For the first part of rainy season, we only had lovely, gentle, soaking rains, so I kinda forgot what a real Mazatlan storm can be like, but last night I was reminded.

It was raining when we went to bed, but is was a sporadic and gentle rain so we didn't worry about it. Around 2:00 am, the increased pace of the rain and the intermittent blue flashes woke me, and I, in turn, woke my beloved – He Whose Job It Is to Deal with Things When Water Falls from the Sky and It Is Dark.

In the few minutes it took Chuck to get dressed and head out across the courtyard to the casita, the lightning went from silent blue flashes to white hot spikes accompanied by cracking thunder. A bolt struck something behind our house, sending hot sparks cascading through the night. Thankfully, we had everything unplugged or connected to surge-suppressing UPSs. Everything except the cable which brings in the internet connection. Chuck feverishly tried to disconnect the cable, but it was too late. The connections were so hot they burned his fingers. We took a surge through the cable which fried our router, 16-port switch, and the network card in my computer. We may have lost more. We're still drying out and testing equipment. But, overall, we were lucky.

While Chuck was dealing will all things electronic in the casita, I was comforting two large dog-shaped mounds of quivering jelly. I saw something by the door that looked like cold smoke flowing across the floor. I didn't have my glasses on, so I couldn't make heads or tails of what I was seeing. I got up to go closer so I could identify what it was – and stepped in a river of rapidly moving water.

We have mesh under the drain covers to prevent any sewer residents from coming to call in the courtyard. My first thought was that the covers had gotten clogged with debris, so I went outside to clear them. I couldn't see a thing, so I just reached under the water and ripped the covers completely off. Both drains had a whirlpool vortex above them as the water swirled into the pipes below. Water was simply coming down in the courtyard quicker than it could exit through either of the large drains.

The level of the water had risen above the steps into the house, and now it was rushing into the bedroom and living room under and around the doors. No amount of towels or plastic could stop it.

I stood, stupefied, watching the surreal dancing lights of reflected water on my bedroom wall. But Chuck moved to immediate action. He ran through the house, indiscriminately tearing plugs from sockets, and then he began bailing water out of the courtyard, using a bucket to scoop water out of the courtyard and dump it into the sink, the toilet, and the shower, all of which connect to a separate drain system. Every bucket of water he dumped was one less bucket's worth that ended up in the house. Eventually he went searching for hose to set up siphons.

Momentarily, I got it together, and followed Chuck on his unplugging route, picking up or propping up stuff to get it out of the water, like the 4-port internet switch in the bedroom and the server for our security cameras (some of the equipment that is still drying out). Its amazing the number of items we had sitting on the floor tucked under furniture to hide it and the cables away.

Finally, mercifully, the rain slackened and the drains were able to catch up. The water receded and quit coming into the house. We surveyed the new lakes in the living room, the bedroom, the kitchen: not a single room in the main house was spared. In some places the water was several inches deep. Now we had to get the water that had made it inside back outside. Reku tried to do his part by drinking it. Tasha thought having her own pool in the house was the best thing ever.

Thankfully, we have a couple of floor squeegees. I started in the bedroom and Chuck started in the kitchen. When I started this project, I was a bit of a novice at the proper implementation of a floor squeegee. Oh, I had the basics: put the squeegee part on the floor, grab the handle, and push. But there is an art to really getting effective use of the squeegee that, up until this point in my life, I have never needed. I have to say that just shoving the water around is inefficient. The water tends to flow back at you over the top of the squeegee and you end up with conflicting currents of water that really go nowhere. It took me quite awhile to get the bedroom cleared.

Once I finished in the bedroom, I went out to join Chuck. He had the kitchen pretty well cleared and we started on the living room together. At this point, we both had a couple of hours experience with the squeegees, and things started to go a little better. The trick is to glide with the squeegee, gently scooting the water in the direction you want it to go.

After not too much longer, we had a rhythm going. The problem for us was how far we had to get the water to travel to actually get it outside. Our floors were not built to slope toward the street. We got our timing down so I could stand in the middle of the living room and scoot water toward Chuck. He would catch it and continue scooting it on its way out the front door and into the hallway in the garage that leads to our front gate. Once we had a fair amount of water in the hallway, Chuck would take both squeegees side by side so they covered from one side of the hallway to the other and scoot the water out the front gate.

We got the bulk of the water out of the house around 6:00 am. Then the rest was up to mop-and-bucket work. We completed that and set the floor fans to finish everything off around 7:00 am. Whew. It was an exhausting night that I have no wish to repeat, newly attained squeegee proficiency or not, but on the bright floors have never been cleaner.

Comments (5)
  • Nancy
    Wow, you really took a beating. Glad things are getting sorted out now, and that Chuck can do whatever computer repairs you need.

    We had a bit of rain coming in our usual places... but I couldn't believe my eyes when I looked out the back door to our back yard. The drains couldn't carry all our water away, either, and our grassy area and the bodega were covered with several inches of water. It even overfilled our cisterna, so this morning it got a good dose of clorox.

    I went out in my nightgown to check if the drain that goes to the street was clogged and was instantly soaked. And like you, it wasn't, it just couldn't carry the water away fast enough.

    I washed towels this morning and when the sun came out I wouldn't believe it happened if I hadn't seen it for myself!
  • jennifer
    I really hope everything in your bodega is okay. Water infiltration is not fun. Its pretty sneaky stuff and goes everywhere. We still have all of our shoes lined up in the sun to dry.

    I, too, am doing a never ending chain of laundry. It's amazing how much laundry a rain storm can generate!

    I am really happy about how quickly the water went away. You are right, aside from the humidity you would never know it rained. And the city looks all new and clean again, a real bonus.
  • santiago
    NEVER, NEVER, NEVER a dull moment af yur casa. 4 SURE.
    Glad all turned out well, almost.
  • jennifer
    No, but I would really settle for boring sometimes ;)
  • Zoe
    Jeepers, and I thought it was bad that I had a "touch" of standing water in the service area patio! I think you and Chuck must have the middle name of Challenges.

    A friend just moved into a new house in Lomas, and woke up needing a boat to get to their living room from the bedroom. I just sent her YOUR blog, so she'd feel better. :cheer:
  • jennifer
    Yes, that was some storm. I have talked with several people who had water intrusion for the fist time. One couple have been in their house for 15 years and have never had water problems. That was just an astonishing amount of water.
  • Sandie and Mike  - The Art of Scooting Water
    We have had a tremendous amount of rain here in Winnipeg this summer, but so far, luckily, it has all stayed outside where it belongs. I have, however, learned to shut the windows upstairs as it doesn't seem to matter which way the wind is blowing, the water desperately wants to soak the carpets in the bedrooms! We have checked and our casita on the hill is still dry, but we've made arrangements to have the boxes we left on the floor of the bedroom closet moved to higher ground, just in case!! Thanks so much for the scooting lesson! Hopefully we'll never have to pull out the squeegees, but with the way the summer is going, you never know!
  • jennifer
    Getting those boxes moves was really smart. Hopefully it won't be a problem for you, but better safe than sorry!
  • Bob Story  - Flooding
    Well it appears to me as though many people have had at least a minor encounter with a lot of rain in a short period of time, i.e. a tropical rain storm.

    Lee & I are survivors of some REAL FLOODING of the Floods of 1993 on the Mississippi River, where the Father of Waters decided to rise 38' above normal and we lived aboard our 41' Gibson Houseboat at Lake Center Marina, just north of St. Louis, MO.

    So if at anytime you want to know the REAL Flood details, just ask us & we'll help bore you to death!

    Bob Story
  • jennifer
    I will ask you about it next time I see you. I always love your stories. Thankfully not close to that bad. But this is the first time in my life I have had water in the house, and I have to tell you that when I was scooting water around all freakin' night long, I would have cheerfully slammed the door in your face if you'd shown up and told me how you'd had it worse...
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