So there was that storm several days ago and we’re fine. After many years of getting a little to a lot of water in our basement, for a variety of reasons, we’ve learned some lessons and we’ve shared them with friends and I’ll share them with y’all.
A retired former co-worker of mine thanked me for recommending having a hand pump (go to Amazon and search “hand bilge pump”) on hand. She used it to deal with her flooded basement because the water overwhelmed her sump pump. I’ve used mine when we got a storm that took out the electricity. No electricity, no working sump pump. This didn’t do the same job as the sump pump, but helped a bad situation not be worse.
Another thing that helps are sandbags. I once loaned some sandbags to a neighbor… who never returned them and when we got a big rainstorm, water that filled our basement well came through the door. I had loaned the neighbor bags that had hung out in front of the rarely used basement door. So after that little basement flood, we got some more sandbags and sand. So there is a decent number of sandbags at the door and sandbags near the rain gutter outlet diverting water away from the house.
As I mentioned, we’re fine. We also have a basement flood alarm, and in never went off. We got lucky. If we weren’t lucky, we would have dealt with the flood with things that we have on hand, below is a list of things to have when water gets into the basement.
newspapers (and stuff to hold down the newspapers as the box fan goes)
wet dry vac
If water has a bad habit of getting in your basement these are a few things to have before the water comes, because neighbors may not be able to loan you these things. It is wonderful when they can and they are not dealing with water problems in their own house.
Though I moved to Shaw in 2000, I have some memories of the neighborhood prior to that because my aunts attend Shiloh Baptist at 9th and P. As a teen and a twenty-something visiting from Florida, I would get dragged to the neighborhood.
The scars from the ’68 riots were unavoidable and looming 20 and 30 years after the fires. The boarded up vacant buildings that outnumbered the occupied spaces was the character of 7th and 9th Street. Depressing, sketchy and dirty were other characteristics of the area before it shifted into full gentrification mode. It has taken 50 years to heal, mostly. There are still vacant buildings and nothingness at the corner of 7th & Q, the Shiloh side of 9th St, and other spots, so not completely.
Ray Milefsky (RIP) before he passed was working on tracing what was damaged on the block where he lived during the riots. I found this and shared it with him.
From what I can tell 0 meant no damage and 3 meant severe damage. Anyway, Ray had a theory that the riots were like a kristallnacht, since a number of white businesses damaged were Jewish owned. So the Jews in Shaw were removed.
Recent events with the Ward 8 councilman making an off hand remark about Jews controlling the weather, is a fair reminder that the African-American/Jewish relationship hasn’t been perfect. There were complaints about these white owned businesses and post riot reports of damaged properties revealed that the business owners weren’t too keen on the neighborhood either. For many the riot was the last straw and for others not being able to get or renew their insurance prevented them from coming back.
The riot transformed the neighborhood. Spots that once held stores or commercial properties later became apartments. There were other transformations, but I’m unsure to whom or what to give credit. The city and urban planners scaled back their grand plans to bulldoze the neighborhood, but earlier efforts by local leaders probably should receive credit for that, but the riot added something to that dynamic. It also weakened the neighborhood leaving it ripe for the redevelopment/ gentrification that came 30 years later after the neighborhood failed to rebuild and recover.
The Help and I hit two of the Art All Night events this weekend, Shaw and North Capitol Main Streets. Two days later and I am still tired. Shaw Main Streets had more businesses sponsoring and hosting events and was bigger. There were a dizzying amount of events and things to do, fifty-seven things according to the event map. I picked 3-4 things to go to and the streets were packed. But then again, it’s the U Street/ 7th Street corridor on a Saturday night, of course it is packed. Rooftop bars were busy. Most bars were busy, rooftop or not. There were artists making art on the street, there were performances by musicians , there was way too much to choose from, which is why I chose three things on my way back to my house so I could hit the North Capitol Main Street’s Art All Night.
North Capitol was smaller with only eight venues and less crowded, more my speed. North Capitol is where I spent most of my energy and time. We met up with a friend and his three kids at the silent disco sponsored by Quiet Events. Unlike last time we did the North Capitol Art All Night where there was a silent disco, the headphones were free (leave an adult’s ID or credit card) this time and I think that made a world of difference. Three DJs helped too. So with that set up my friend was able to bring his three kids and other parents also brought their kids and danced like silly people in a vacant lot that will have a building on in the coming years. The music wasn’t exactly kid friendly, but remembering as a kid I didn’t think too deeply about the lyrics of most pop songs, it probably was okay.
After feeling our age we went to two venues in the Truxton at North Cap and Florida, then trekked over to the Shaw venues at Lot 42 and the Shaw Library. Which by the time we got there with 3 kids in tow (way past their bedtime) Lot 42 was even more crowded. I had gone to the Shaw library because I needed to find a bathroom….. and as a side note, I did not notice any porta potties. While in line at the library for a bathroom with only two stalls, some poor woman was struggling, visually struggling to hold it in. For large events, this can be a problem. Okay, back to the Shaw event. Because I had gone to the library I saw what was going on in the basement and ran into a librarian who mentioned the library was open and you could check out books. Awesome. Our gaggle went to the library where the kids engaged in making art.
After 11PM we all headed home. I was dead tired. My phone said I made over 18,000 steps. Those are the most steps I think I’ve ever made.
Yes these aren’t the best, but I didn’t have time to scan them. They are photos my aunt took back in 2001 a few months after I had just bought my house. I had moved from an apartment and didn’t have a whole lot of stuff so there wasn’t much to be destroyed in the basement but a few things, and the crappy carpet that came with the house.
It was worse for my neighbors who had full basements. The sewer and runoff were one and so the rain overwhelmed the system and water (with other icky stuff) came through basement toilets and tubs. At the time I had no plumbing in the basement, but I did have a drain outside the cellar door that backflowed sending water into the basement. And I got a little water near the interior water shut off valve on the other side of the house.
Fast forward to this year in 2017, DC Water ( @DCwater) had made some infrastructure investments to deal with runoff and around the neighborhood our drains are not as clogged with trash and greenery as it was when we were more ghetto than gentrified. So a little less damage, but damage still. Our sump pump was only 1/2 full when a mighty river decided to breech our cellar door. The drain outside the cellar door wasn’t draining the water that came down. The Help (my lovely husband) had to jump into action to clear the drain during the thunderstorm.
Another difference, it looks like Truxton got Bloomingdale’s flooding. What do you think?
First, BACA Saturday, 1st & P @ 10AM. See more here. I won’t be joining this cleanup as tomorrow is run around town looking for something and dropping stuff off day. My main goal is to get sample sizes of various Benjamin Moore paint colors (used to be able to get them at Monarch Paints but no more) and get rid of an old pre-HD TV.
Unrelated- history. Everyso often I think of papers I would write if I were really inspired to write and had the time to write. One topic I’d like to spend some more time on is the topic of urban renewal looking at some long term things. For one I’d look at the gensis of DC urban renewal by NCPC and DC government and any non-government players and get a sense of what their motivations were. Then try to figure out what happened to those individuals as they dropped out of the process when plans changed, and plans do change. Second, changing plans. The experts and planners start off with one set of plans and then due to budget, staff, political pressure, the odd riot, or whathaveyou the plans change. The big freeway that is currently I-395 does not continue up New Jersey Avenue and on to U Street. And the big thing is I’d want such a paper for people to look up the primary sources for themselves. I don’t want people to automatically take my word as gospel. I have biases, and some of them I will publicly admit to, others I won’t. Some will look at the same information and draw different conclusions, but the main thing is that they look and think.