Friday, October 1, 2010

Stormy September

September is storm month here in the Mid-Atlantic.  The worst weather I've known in the Cape has always come in September (not counting snow and ice).  The tornado that swept through the Cape in September of 2006 took out two huge trees in our backyard.  Floyd passed through in September of 1999 taking out a tree in this yard, as well, but before we lived here.  And of course Isabel paid us a visit in September of 2003 wreaking havoc throughout the area.  It's appropriate that big storms are given names, because they certainly have a range of personalities.

Tropical Depression 16 was no Isabel.  She even lost her name, Nicole, before she made it to us, but she brought the highest water we've seen since, and no question the heaviest consistent rainfall in a 24 hour period that I've ever known.  Floyd is the only other storm that might compare in the rainfall category, but we lived in a different Cape house then with fewer drainage issues.  I heard a story on NPR recently about how much water is actually contained in the clouds of large hurricanes. It's some ridiculously huge amount like the volume of 100 million elephants.  After yesterday, I can believe that 10,000 or so of those elephants fell in my yard.

Our current house sits at the dead end of a street where it starts to dip down into a gully.  The end of the street part is great - no traffic and we can dump our leaves over the edge of the yard.  The part that's not so great is that our entire yard is sloped.  There's not a flat spot on our lot.  In addition, we have a long driveway that runs from the street, along the side of our house and around to the back where we have a detached garage.   The areas of the yard with established grass handle the water very well, but when it really rains hard, water courses down our driveway like Class 2 rapids.

To keep all this water from flowing straight into our garage, there is a dip along the front that directs the water off to the side.  There is also a stone barrier along the side of the driveway that prevents the water from draining across the yard.  The end result is that ALL the water that comes down the driveway converges on one spot at the right end where it has to drain.  We have a drain grate there with buried drain pipe that directs the water off the edge of the yard.

This handles the water fine until you introduce debris in the form of 10,000 acorns lying in my driveway!  Yes, I believe I had 10,000 elephants and 10,000 acorns all trying to escape my yard through a single 12 inch drainage grate.  As you can imagine, this was not a workable situation.  I fought the battle for a while, standing over the grate in a raincoat trying to clear the acorns from the drain to let the elephants pass, but at a point, I conceded the battle and let them have at it.  The result was a pile of acorns and a flooded garage.  The picture below illustrates the problem:

Some of my 10K acorns and the 12- inch debris-covered drain.

I know there are Capers who suffered bigger disasters thanks to TD16 - flooded basements, sunken or lost boats and equipment, and power outages.  Our power only flickered once, but I know other Capers who lost power in the evening and were rudely awakened to it coming back on in the night.  I will say I was happy to see a fleet of emergency repair trucks hovering yesterday afternoon and evening - on the ready to deal with downed trees or blown transformers.

Hope all you fellow Capers weathered the storm reasonably well, and for those who were worst hit, let's lend a hand where we can.  Let the cleanup begin.  The good news is that Stormy September is over.  Welcome October!  Let's hope that's it for the fall and no more crazy weather until winter...

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