If you were part of the soggy portion of Greater Boston frantically Googling some combination of the words “basement flooding waterproof sandbag sump pump apocalypse Miami condo prices” Friday morning, you were not alone.
Just a week ago, we were hunkering down for a foot of snow and ice. Now that we’ve survived that, we’re girding for a flood. All the snow melted into the earth, and the rain is coming: It’s like the storm sent its armies underground and then called in an airstrike. And the second wave is coming just as something like half the city is terrified of the flu.
At what point does this qualify as a plague? Is shotgunning DayQuil straight from the bottle and watching the family cat surf his litter box across a flume of fetid floodwater sufficient? Does the sleet expected Saturday have to be on fire? Do we need actual locusts?
At Rocky Nook Waterproofing and Mold Removal in Kingston on Friday, the phone was ringing nonstop.
“Some people are calling saying they got a foot and half, 2 feet of water in the basement,” said owner Gaetano Scarpaci, who said he was putting in four sump pumps Friday alone. That involves digging a 3-foot basin into the basement floor, and if you don’t have one by the time you read this, you are probably out of luck.
The massive snow piles all over the region are melting, saturating the ground around and under our houses. Now, a flood watch that started Friday morning will roll into Saturday afternoon, overlapping a winter weather advisory that starts two hours before the flood watch ends. If you wanted to dial up a recipe for flooded basements, you couldn’t do much better than this.
You know what that means:
Look, maybe you’re lucky.
Maybe you didn’t get the flu; some experts say the number of people getting the flu this year is pretty typical. But others say it could be the worst flu season in recent memory. Whichever it is, the whole exercise becomes academic the moment you start coughing and aching anyway.
And maybe you’re not one of the poor soaked dopes with 2 feet of water in your basement before the rain has even started. But when the water comes, your luck runs out. You can outwork a blizzard with a snowblower or a strong back, but a flood won’t listen to reason.
If you don’t already have a properly functioning pump, or a spot on someone like Scarpaci’s schedule, you don’t have many options. Once the water arrives, you’ll be an extra in a sad prequel to “Waterworld.” You remember “Waterworld,” right? Kevin Costner stars as a loner who drinks his own urine but is blessed with gills behind his ears and (spoiler alert) sets out on a quest to find the mythical Dryland.
The movie was set in a world where the polar ice caps have melted, but somehow that’ll be you by approximately Tuesday. All babies born after Jan. 1, 2018, should be checked for gills. The good news: Nobody needs space savers anymore. The bad news: Your parking space is now a mooring.
Scarpaci has seen every kind of wet basement imaginable over the last three-plus decades. Fieldstone foundations, common among older homes around Boston, are among the toughest to waterproof. Water works its way into cracks in the mortar between the stones and dribbles or even pours out.
Chasing these leaks with water-stop cement is the filthiest game of whack-a-mole you’ll ever play, and even if it miraculously works, you’re just pushing the water to the next weakest spot.
That’s when it starts coming up through the floor, pushing through cracks or even freezing and make its own new chasms.
The floor cracking beneath your feet? Filthy water rising all around you?
Sounds like something out of an apocalyptic movie. Or, you know, a plague.Nestor Ramos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NestorARamos.