Under the Weather

Houston’s been a bit “under the weather” for the past week.

Unless you live overseas or under a rock, you’ve probably seen just how bad things got, here, last week. A historic, “500-year flood,” the extent of which set records. Things are slowly getting back to normal – that is, the roads are passable and the water’s receded back into the creeks from whence it came. For the people just up the road from me, who have piled up the soggy, filthy, creek-water-soaked contents of their homes, it’s going to take a little longer to get “back to normal.”

Many people have lost everything. Eight people died.

I love water, in moderation. In oceans and pools and rivers and falls. When people are kayaking up the street you normally drive to work, there’s a problem.

Water’s both a blessing and a curse. I’m a Pisces – water is my element, and I love to swim. Yet, my mom used to call water our “family curse.” And it doesn’t take horrible weather. When I was a teen, we lived in a twenty-one story condo on Daytona Beach, overlooking a whole ocean full of water. I called my parents, one warm, sunny afternoon, and told them that our apartment – on the fourteenth floor – was flooded. “How much water is there?” they asked.

“Let’s put it this way – I could do the backstroke from the kitchen to your bedroom.” The water tank on the roof had sprung a leak – emptying itself straight into our hall closet.

Weather or not – water always wins.

 

HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
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20 thoughts on “Under the Weather”

  1. Well, that is too bad. I feel sorry for the friends and family of those 8 people. I also feel sorry for those who got flooded.

    Your adventures with the water tank!

    Years ago, I worked for a company that sold high powered pumps.

    A new to town, but very notorious (and corner cutting) builder built a building with a tank on the roof, and a pump in the basement to fill the tank. (So that if the water system failed, the building would have fire fighting water for a while.) This was not for potable water.

    The builder (more likely his staff…) was over very confident, and did not follow install instructions. They had primed the piping (etc), and put some water in the tank (as they should), but the tank was far from full (good thing!). But they had installed the pump backwards…..

    When they fired it up (for testing and first filling of the tank) the hellatious thing sucked all the water from the fire control piping, as well as the tank. It took the pump less than 20 seconds to do that. This damaged the piping a little bit (easy fix, tho) The trouble is, it was pumping the water back into the city water supply! There is supposed to be a back flow valve on these systems, but they had not installed it. (A VERY bad thing to fail to do!)

    The sudden influx of water under high pressure, not only contaminated the water (potable) in the mains…. it broke the city water main pipe. And of course, the pump ran out of water very quickly. But water lubricates these pumps. By the time they got it turned off, as they were all in shock, the pump had burned itself out, damaging the motor and impeller system.

    A VERY expensive mess. They got sued by the city (for repairs), and fined (for polluting the water supply), about 1/4 of the town was without water for 2 days (they got bottled, and the company was sued there, too), and… people who could get water nearby, had to boil it (just in case), oh, my!

    Then they tried to claim on the rather extensive pump warranty. Needless to say, the manufacturer refused to honour the warranty.

    Finally, the manufacturer compromised, rather than a lawsuit, which they would have won eventually, but would have been a waste of time for them…. They fixed the pump at COST, plus $1.00… But the builder had to pay shipping costs. And the warranty was GONE, they just could not take further chances. But to make sure it at least got installed properly, they sent someone to supervise this…

    A mess for everyone. Yep, water always wins. And people should follow instructions. Like the two arrows on the pump inlet and outlet that indicated the proper direction for water flow.

    See? Your condo mess could have been worse! But the Houston Mess, yes, that was VERY bad. Maybe the state and feds will chip in to help fix things? One hopes.

    1. Oh, my Lord, what a story! And you tell it well, Pete. I was on the edge of my seat, and glad the doofuses found a way out (though also glad they had to learn an expensive lesson, given the damage they caused). As a former tech writer, I can’t help but smile, thinking a bit of time spent with the directions might have saved them all that trouble.

      Yes, looks like there will be some state/federal assistance to those who had no flood insurance. And some of the areas hardest hit would not have had reason to think they needed it. (Though some – definitely – would, but may not have been able to afford it. It really is a mess.)
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…6 Reasons Writers Should Use TwitterMy Profile

      1. I take that as quite a compliment that a real writer would like how I told that!!!!!!! Thanks!

        And… the lesson, some 25 years ago, was worth about $150K to them! (OUCH!!!) I talked to a witness once:
        “You should have seen the road lift up, when the water main exploded! Water everywhere!”
        No kidding!!??

        Well, as a TECH WRITER, I am glad you appreciate(d) the use of instructions! I have known too many in my day, who are members of “The Anti-Manualist Faith”. (Like my late friend Susan Lister, still missed to this day!) And they keep all their neatly still shrink-wrapped manuals on the shelf…. And, now congregants, Reverend Holly, will pass amongst you for alms! LOL!

        How they not only BLEW the instruction manual (short but detailed), but the two (reasonably sized) arrows on the pump inlet/outlet, indicating water flow as well, is something I will never understand.

        But, now, children curl up, in your beds, for sleepy time, and Sister Holly will read you a nice horror story about people who did not follow their instruction manuals…..

        “It was a dark and stormy night, and Cecil was setting up his brand new HP Envy 4500, when he……

        There! I got you started!

  2. You’re okay, right?

    Just sent text to son in Houston asking him to confirm they are not under water.

    Didn’t realize it was the 500-year flood – I’m not doing well enough to pay attention to the news, and have assumed that, since son in SF let us know when their building was on fire, son in Houston would let us know if they were under water.

    Don’t assume. It makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’ – as their chemistry teacher used to say.
    Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt recently posted…You like a writer’s style and voice – or you don’tMy Profile

    1. Oh, dear! I hope he’s okay. I’m sure HE is okay – but I do hope his home stayed dry. Yes, last week was bad. This week is mostly just clean-up and sorting through the debris. I trust your son in SF was okay despite the fire??

      1. SF son is fine – thanks for asking. The previous time he had a fire OPPOSITE (and ended up having to move out due to the damage), he actually sent a link so we could watch the brand new and not yet occupied complex across the street go up in flames on a local TV station – for hours. Quite a conflagration.

        I’m pretty sure if Houston son didn’t show up at work, the company would call us eventually – we’re his contact for emergencies, I think. But you’d think they’d assume we’d worry, wouldn’t you?

        It’s SO much fun being a parent! If anyone knew in advance, there would be no more humans.
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  3. Flooding in Houston. Imagine that.

    I lost a job outside Houston when the site, near the San Jacinto River flooded from a hurricane — or maybe it was a tropical storm — back in ’71. It was flooded and shutdown and I never went back to see if it had been cleaned up. It was that “good” of a job.

    Ended up joining the Navy not long after that, went nuclear power, and here I am all these many years later, still at it.
    Mike recently posted…Before Shots Were Fired.My Profile

      1. Nuclear… which is part of the reason that FB page hadn’t been updated in a year. I was in the Navy for almost 9 years and went to commercial nuclear power in 1980. I retired in 2007, but have been back on contract several times. In January 2015, after a hiatus of 2 years, I went back and have been working ever since.

        So far as flooding is concerned, we live on a hill 500 feet higher in elevation than the Arkansas River.
        Mike recently posted…Before Shots Were Fired.My Profile

  4. Actually I dropped a suitcase that broke the pipe leading to the cooling tower on the roof. The maintenance man had “fixed” the pipe from being a leak, but then it broke in two, causing the flood.

  5. I live in an apartment building. Couple above me went away for a week: of course, that was the week one of their water pipes broke.

    First we heard the sound, then water started coming down into my apt, through the walls and electrical outlets. Called the super.

    Next thing I know, the woman from the next floor down is ringing and knocking on my door: she was upset because water was coming into her apt, and thought I was to blame.

    Good times, good times.
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    1. Oh, yeah – BTDT too! (Actually worked in our favor, once – and yes, it happened more than once! – we got a good deal on a rental house that was a repo by the bank because the people who owned it walked out on their mortgage in the dead of winter. The pipes froze and burst on thawing. It was restored, rented to us, and later sold to one of my best friends – who lives there to this day. SHE got a good deal on it because she was able to prove the realtor was lying through his teeth about the previous “owners” of the house, how long they’d owned it, and what great shape it was in. A downstairs cedar closet was sinking and leaking from the baseboards on a sunny day… I think it is NOW a lovely home. After piering and proper care!)

  6. We’re definitely under a rock, as we didn’t know about it. Though there’s a friend in Texas who was in Galveston during that week. I know it’s not right next door, but am wondering if he heard anything about it.

    Was that you taking the video footage? Nice work. I hope you’re okay.

    We’re always getting flash flood warnings around here with the Hudson River close by and all the little (or not so little really) creeks and lakes surrounding this area. Oddly, we never did get flooded when we were in the mobile home court just off one creek, thought the back part of the property always did.

    Stay safe.
    Fim

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