By Randall Grantham
As you know, we spent a week at the Georgia cabin last month and I told you about the good times — the T-shirts, the motorcycle rides and the trout catching, among other things. But I didn’t tell you about the hard times or the scary times. Of course, we all thought of Dad and missed him, but it was more than that.
Like the fact that when my brother got there a few hours before Mom and me, he found a 3-½ foot timber rattler stretched across the front step, sunning on the river rock slabs my parents had laid.
Alan apparently had not read my previous column about the decimation of venomous vipers around the world because, after missing the thing four or five times at point blank range with a .357, he beat it to death with a stick.
I also didn’t mention, in the earlier article, the fact that when he turned on the water valve under the house for the first time of the year, it looked like one of the scenic waterfalls that dot the mountains. The house is an A-frame perched on the side of a mountain and water flowed freely everywhere you looked under the place.
Now I’ve had my fair share of experience with flooded houses. We’ve flooded the one here in Lutz at least four times. Those weren’t from frozen pipes like what happened in Georgia but from a toilet handle sticking and the water continuing to run until the drain field overloaded and the water had no place to go except onto the bathroom floor and then throughout the house.
The first time years ago, it happened after Ginny got up and I had slept in. When I woke up and swung my legs over the side of the bed … kersplash … my feet went right into an inch of water on the bedroom floor.
We replaced the drain field then, but oak tree roots have a way of finding nutrients and re-infiltrating the line. So it happened again. This time the water went throughout the house, into both bathrooms, two bedrooms, the hallway and even the dining area and kitchen. At least it was clean water.
After promising ourselves it would never happen again because we would watch those toilet handles like a hawk, it happened two more times, both times on Ginny’s birthday a few years ago. Once slightly after midnight as her big day arrived, and then again, slightly before midnight less than 24 hours later. I blame our inebriated birthday guests.
So we moved the drain field away from all the oak trees and figured we were good. We never expected our place in Homosassa to flood. It’s a doublewide on stilts, 15 feet off the ground. If it flooded, we’d need an ark, we figured. But we didn’t figure on squirrels.
You may remember the article I wrote about that. My neighbor happened to notice water flowing out from under my house after the rodents chewed a hole in the bathtub supply line.
The flood in Georgia was kind of like that one. But instead of a flow, it was cascades of water. From everywhere!
Luckily, all the pipes that broke were downstairs and mostly under the house, so there was no damage to the interior. It was inconvenient, to be sure.
The first night, we had only hose water to fill buckets to flush toilets or put in bowls. The second day we were able to restore running water to the house, but only cold water. And if you’ve spent any time in the mountains, you know that their cold water gives new meaning to the word “cold.” The showers we forced ourselves into on the third day were …“brisk” doesn’t do it justice. “Take-your-breath-away cold” comes close, but still falls short of the mark.
We got it fixed and now it’s better than before, with the new freeze-resistant pipe. But it took up a lot of our time and attention. It was emotionally draining and at one point Mom said maybe she should just sell the place. “Maybe it’s a message from Dad,” she said.
With a history of dealing with similar situations, I was able to put some perspective on the situation. Darn right it was a message from Dad, I told her. He was saying get those pipes fixed and let’s go out there and catch some trout!