Nicholas takes the hurricane warning seriously. He spent a week cleaning up after last September’s storm and he doesn’t want to do that again. He procured a truck load of sand and 75 sandbags with which he barricaded the three basement windows. As soon as this barricade was erected he decided it was an inadequate counter measure so he removed the sandbags and replaced them with custom-cut plywood slabs which he sealed to the windows with silicone caulk.

In last year’s flood the water not only entered his basement through the windows but also through the sewer drain in the basement floor. To prevent this recurring he purchased inflatable rubber plugs to seal the drain and the basement toilet. Not content with defensive measures, he has a 12-volt electric sump pump and a backup gasoline pump to pump out any water that bypasses his defenses.

Strangely, none of his neighbors have taken any noticeable steps to combat the predicted flood with the exception of parking their cars on higher ground elsewhere. Nick lives in a duplex so he’s worried that even if his defenses hold against the flood waters, his neighbor’s flooded basement could leak into his. He offers to use his left-over sandbags to barricade the neighbor’s windows. They accept his offer.

In the afternoon we walk down to the river to see if it is near flood stage. It is only slightly above normal and poses no immediate danger. Since it hasn’t even begun to rain, this higher level is due to storm surge, the swelling of ocean level due to off-shore hurricane wind.

Monday: By morning a hard rain is falling. Nick and I drive to a nearby Walmart to buy some milk. The streets, which are normally crowded with morning commuters, have only light traffic – the federal work force, which is the bulk of D.C.’s work force, has been given the day off to deal with the hurricane. The streets have standing water but no serious flooding. The wind is moderate – about 20 mph.

NOON: A roving photographer/reporter from The Washington Times has noticed the sandbags on Nick’s doorstep and asks if she can take some pictures and interview him.


3 PM: It has been raining hard for several hours. The winds are picking up. Hyekyung, Nick’s wife, notices water dripping from the upstairs ceiling. Nick climbs into the attic and finds that the combination of wind and rain has found two small leaks in the roof. Nick places pans to catch the drip.

20121029-160815.jpgTHE LEAKING ROOF

4 PM Nick and I decide to walk down to the river for a look. We get near the park and the wind suddenly gusts with such force that large trees are bending before it. Nick’s poncho catches the wind like a sail. The wind-driven raindrops sting on my bare legs. We think better of walking through the trees down to the river. The threat of falling branches is a real and present danger. We abort our reconnaissance and return to his house.

5 PM Nick gets an evacuation notice over the telephone from Fairfax County. Rising water is cited as the reason. A few minutes later the lights flicker and the power goes off for a few minutes. Nick and Hyekyung talk about her and baby Anna going to a hotel for the night.

signing off before the power signs me off. Be sure to log on to Chelan Traveler tomorrow to find out what happens to Nick and his family as Hurricane Sandy closes in!