14 May 1996


[This appears to be an e-mail I sent to friends. Unfortunately, the only copy I have of it is not as an e-mail, but a text file called "flood.txt" that I apparently prepared separate from my e-mail client. I determined the date by pulling out my old calendars, where I'd noted it.]

Yesterday, I went home during my lunch break. As I pulled into the carport, I noticed water trickling to the side of the house. After going through a few possibilities, I came up with water being left on inside the house. It was about this time I saw the water was indeed trickling from underneath the door. I quickly opened the door to about an inch of water on the kitchen floor. Water was shooting up from behind the washer in the laundry room, soaking half the room.

I immediately tried to shut off the water at that valve. It wouldn't turn. I grabbed some pliers and a wrench and went to the turn off the water to the house, but couldn't find the valve. I called some plumbers, but no one could get there immediately. Finally, I started thinking a bit straight and used a rubber-backed bathmat to block the water spraying up in my face and managed to get the valve closed. Then I called Dorothy and waited, dripping, for her to come home. Thankfully, upon calling our insurance agent's office, they suggested having a carpet service come to get the water out of the dining room carpet before it spread. This hadn't occurred to us yet. We spent the afternoon cleaning up.

What happened is the hose from the water tap to the washer burst. (I'm glad it was the *cold* water.) This happened sometime between roughly 8:30 and 11:30 AM. Thank goodness I went home during lunch. We'll have to replace three rooms' floors: the dining room, the (newly tiled by Dorothy) kitchen, and the laundry room. We'll also have to replace the carpet in the living room and hall, at least, since it all needs to match.

BTW, the cats seem to be unharmed. We later had visions of one of them eating or using the litter box in the laundry room when it blew, but upon recollection, neither was wet. They were a bit agitated, but seem okay now.

Dorothy has two theories on why this happened:
  1. We booked a trip to Disney World for later this year. It was just after we paid for our plane tickets to Australia that the tree fell on the house and we had to get a new roof. Therefore, big trips cause personal disasters.
  2. We threw away the chain letter she received. We're both "rational human beings," but the letter, which we estimate arrived Friday, said to mail out 20 copies in 96 hours. It's an interesting coincidence. If you sent us this chain letter (there was no return address, but it came from Huntsville), please don't do send any more. We will still throw them away.
We've learned a few things from this:
  1. How to turn off water to the house. We should have learned this a long time ago. Now we even own a water meter key.
  2. Turn off the water to the washer when not in use. Dorothy says this is too much trouble (and the valves are hard to reach), but we will probably at least turn it off when we go on trips. Thank goodness it didn't do it Sunday. We spent the day in Birmingham with my mother and grand-mother.
  3. The floor under the carpet in the dining room isn't hardwood.
  4. Always go home during lunch.
[This also became one of my "Tips of the moment." The day after I wrote this (two days after the first hose burst), the other hose burst under the same circumstances: I came home from work to find water leaking out from under the door again. I had to call the plumber and carpet service to both come out again. I think the plumber didn't charge us that second time, but I forget. If this happened now, all of these years of home-ownership later, I wouldn't bother to call a plumber just to replace a washing machine hose.

One thing I left out of this is that when I called my wife, I just told her to come home and didn't explain anything. She was worried to death, but luckily it was a short drive from work back home.

Rather than replace the carpet, we opted to have the hardwood in the living room and hall refinished. We also expanded the laundry room and had hardwood put down in the dining room. It wasn't until August that the repairs were finally finished. — 17 June 2010]

[Incidentally, no collectibles were harmed by the events related in this post. Thanks goodness! —2 July 2010]