This is one of family stories, and it’s high time I share it with the rest of the world. That way if I ever refer to the Great Poop Flood, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
My husband and I had planned to spend Thanksgiving of ’99 with my in-laws who lived 2 states away, but just 2 days before leaving we decided to stay home instead. Neither of us had a solid reason; we just didn’t feel like we should go. I was very pregnant with our 5th child in 6 years, and two states was a long way.
The in-laws were disappointed. The children were disappointed. Hubby and I were even disappointed, but we just couldn’t get motivated about going and so we stayed home.
Thanksgiving came and went, quiet and uneventful. Friday passed.
On Saturday morning the fun began. One of the girls complained about an odor and tried to blame it on her sister. I corrected her: “Did you do it? No? Then it’s rude to comment about it. Hush.”
A bit later, I heard them discussing an odor again. “Maybe Mom’s cooking broccoli.”
A moment later, through the small under-construction gap in the bathroom floor, one of the girls spied an unexpected sight in the basement. Something was floating across the basement floor.
I ran to the bathroom to see what I could see, and my husband thew open the basement door. He saw his shoes floating past the stairs. He sprinted down the stairs and into the basement barefoot, thinking a pipe had burst. If only that were true.
We saw dark, swirling waves. With toilet tissue floating. Waves of whirling, twirling sewage in my basement. And goldfish. The girls swear they saw goldfish.
There was sewage backing up, spewing like a fountain out of the washer drain. We had several inches of city sewage and anonymous floating items in our basement. While I gaped in horror from the stairs, Hubby donned his manly boots and courageously slogged through the mess to find the source – the washer drain pipe was spurting like a geyser gone horribly wrong – and he slowed it by plugging it with a wadded up rag.
After a panicked phone call and 45 long, slow minutes, the city sent somebody out to unplug the clog in the sewer lines under the street in front of our house. They pulled out two bed sheets that somebody had flushed, and finally the flow stopped.
The sewage slowly seeped down through the heavily clogged floor drain in our basement. A day or two later, at our request, the city magnanimously sent a man with a vacuum on his truck to suck up what was left. Then we were on our own.
I won’t go into details about how we handled the situation, but it involved several pairs of boots, a hotel room, lots of photos for an insurance claim against the city, a whole lot of bleach and paint, and a small mountain of our possessions on the street curb marked with warnings against scavenging. It mostly involved a very pregnant me killing time at the hotel with 4 rambunctious kids, 5yo and under, while Hubby did the dirty work.
We lost a sofa, a bookcase (with books. oh the pain!), many of our videos, a TV stand, and 3 months’ worth of food, plus many misc. items. The food was one of the first things we put out for the trash man, and it disappeared long before the trash was picked up. After that, we put out signs begging, pleading and warning people not to look for treasure in our trash.
It took 5 days and 5 nights in a hotel while Hubby spent 5 cold northern November days and nights airing out the house and carrying, cataloguing, cleaning and/or disposing of many of our earthly treasures.
It took many months of paperwork, phone calls, and trips to the city auditor’s office to establish that it was the city’s responsibility.
It took us two years to be reimbursed for our losses from the city sewer backup.
It took us 2 hours to realize how thankful we were to be home that Thanksgiving.