Sunday, October 16, 2011

Looking for Rainbows

Five weeks ago, central Pennsylvania suffered a torrential rain which caused widespread flooding. Weathermen called it a fifty-year flood.  Rivers overflowed their banks; creeks became rushing torrents, and ground water had no place to go except into basements. Lancaster and surrounding counties were declared a disaster area.

We live about three football fields and up a hill from the Conestoga River.  Even during Hurricane Agnes back in the 70's, water never come anywhere near as high as our home.  This time rising water was impressive, but God's mercy was even more inspiring.

Thankfully, the steep hill our house sits upon protected us from flooding.

However, the saturated water-table revealed a small, but enormously devastating, plumbing problem inside our home.

Actually, the error was made three years ago, when we had our basement redone.  (See--

At that time,  the contractor had a sump pump installed.  The pump, which had never come on before this monsoon, worked very efficiently.  However, instead of pumping water outside, it pumped the water to the second floor.

When I heard water pouring out of the powder room ceiling, I ran to the basement and shut off the main water valve to the house.  That did nothing; water continued to pour.

For nearly two hours, water soaked the three bedrooms upstairs, cascaded down the stairs and through the vents and light fixtures to the main floor.  Even though I was bailing water in a five gallon bucket, I couldn't keep up with the volume.  Water soaked the main floor, drenching the carpets and my new Apple computer.  It buckled the cherry floors throughout the house, warped millwork around the fireplace, and loosened drywall on ceilings.

Eventually, the falling water reached the basement, where it was the most devastating.

How could this have happened?  The culprit was human error. Evidently, the plumber forgot where the exit pipe leading outside was located.  It had been left plugged with styrofoam and covered with drywall. So, when he came back to install the sump pump, he connected to the pipe still visible which led to the washing machine catch-pan drain on the second floor.  The seemingly small mistake wrecked major havoc.

How should we respond to such mayhem?  My own words came back to me.  In the past year, I have told several audiences, "When calamity strikes, don't doubt God's love; count his mercies."

Taking my own advice, here are few of the rainbows I recognize:

Shortly after the deluge began, a friend called.

"I can't talk now," I said. "I have a flood."

Before long she came armed with a laundry basket of towels, but when she saw the magnitude of the problem, she called her husband.  He "just happened" to have a roofer with him who was looking at a small leak in his office building.  They came right over.

The roofer crawled into the attic to check for a cave-in there.  "It's bone dry up here," he reported. However, he just happened to know the president of a restoration company. Unknown to me, after he left, he made a call.

I had already called Compleat Restoration, but with the volume of calls they were getting, they said it would be from one to three weeks before they could get to us. So, you can imagine my surprise when they called back to tell me they would be coming that evening.

Meanwhile, the air conditioning company sent out a repairman who gerry-rigged the a.c. bypassing the flooded mother-board. This kept the house cool preventing mildew and mold.

Further, a plumbing truck was next-door. When the plumbers finished there, they came, opened up the wall, and found the problem. Finally, the deluge stopped.

By nightfall, the restoration experts were on hand with seventeen industrial dehumidifiers and fans.

They pulled padding from under carpet to allow ventilation to dry out the sub flooring.

They cut out dry wall to remove wet insulation and enable drying.

The equipment ran for four days!

When the fog cleared and the extent of the damage became apparent, we got a mover who packed the contents of our home and took it to storage. While the truck was being loaded the rain held off; but as the last item was inside the van, it began to "spritz". I was thankful the furniture didn't take-on more water!

Afterward, we checked into an extended stay unit at a local hotel.  With the house empty, the warped and wet flooring could be removed.

Furthermore, the honest plumber and contractor have accepted responsibility for the negligence.

In addition, previously, we had planned to be away on vacation this particular week. Can you picture the mold and mildew, if we had been away?

To keep things in perspective, we remember many Haitian families who are still living in tents two years after the earthquake.  We are thankful to have a dry roof over our heads, culpable companies who will eventually pay for damages (we hope), and most importantly, no one was hurt.

As we wait word of settlement from the insurance companies, we would appreciate prayers for patience and piety.  :)

Throughout this ordeal, I have often thought of Noah.  Imagine how special the rainbow was to him.  As I count the Lord's mercies in our minor-in-comparison flood, I am thankful for the rainbows revealed along the way.