Friday, August 19, 2016

The floods of 2016

With the horrific floods that are occurring in southern Louisiana right now, this hardly ranks amongst the worst in history.  But it was definitely an unpleasant surprise last Sunday to say the least.   This is my basement.

I was off with 2 of my kids at a party in the afternoon.  My husband was home doing what husbands do -- nothing.  After the fact, he mentioned that he *had heard* a trickle of water, like a leaking faucet, but when the two faucets near him rendered nothing, he quit looking.  First clue - when you hear running water, and nobody is home...GO AND LOOK FOR IT!!

Ladies, you can relate.

I went down my basement stairs about 4pm, and immediately realized something was grossly wrong. It was overly humid, when each descending step typically becomes cooler, and more arid.  Then, as I got to the bottom, I realized there was water seeping underneath the door.  Freaking panic set in, and I started screaming.  Nothing like screams to get the flame lit under the helper's ass.

So, the hot water holding tank, which is connected to my furnace sprung a leak last Sunday.  Everything bad happens on a Sunday.  We are probably blessed this didn't happen on December 22nd when our kitchen faucet drain decided to leak profusely, making us sinkless until the 27th of December.  First order of business was to figure out how to turn off the water.  Normally, the wet area in the next picture (which is really after most of the water was sucked up and removed, has a pad of 1" foam core boards, and each of my show quilts lays flat on it.

My foam core boards were essentially floating.  The colored foam mats, which are about 1/2" thick, were floating too, and they were the slippery hazard we navigated the basement on.  It was like stepping on surfboards to get around.  My husband got the shop vac prepared, as I started moving everything to higher ground. Problem is -- I had a client quilt loaded on the longarm, so that real estate was taken, and I had my own mess of sorts on my ironing table, and the 3 6' tables in the studio.  A quick shuffling of stuff was in order.  This basement is something like 24'x30', and the water had made its way to all 4 walls.  We have no sump hole or way for it to get out.
The furnace circuit was shut off and after a bit of trial and error we found the valve between the boiler and the tank to shut off the water migration.  Lucky for us, and we learned this after the fact, when this valve was closed, a vacuum was initiated in the tank, keeping the 50 gallons of hot water from coming out!   It could have been a hotter mess.

All of the photos I have are clearly well after the clean up had begun.  There was no stopping to snap a few keepsake photos! 

This is the offending tank...Bad tank.  It was leaking at the bottom black ring.
 The one issue I had was that I had 5 or 6 show quilts floating on the foam core boards.  Big Bertha (98"x98") happened to hang off the boards by a couple inches.  What hung off, immediately got wet.  This quilt was soaked about 8-10", and proceeded to soak the quilt that was laying on top of it, Shenandoah Falling.  Well, Shenandoah Falling is made from Cherrywood scraps, none of which were prewashed.  This quilt was only blocked in cold water.  The water from the tank was very hot -- so hot that the temperature in the basement when I discovered the disaster was 84F.  Normal basement temperature is only 74F.

When Shenandoah got wet, an area with red fabrics immediately bled, and it also bled on the quilt beneath it.  Fortunately, both of these affected quilts are older.  Shenandoah is admittedly, my least successful show quilt, ever.  I still like it. is going to the NWQE in a week.  I was not pleased to see the mess!  Big Bertha, a 2013 quilt, has been to over a dozen shows, earned over $25k in winnings, but I want it in good condition because I have two exhibitions coming in a year.  It made me sad.
 Piles of everything piled onto the work tables...

By all accounts, having two damaged personal quilts, and some printed materials for my upcoming classes  damaged, is SO minor.  We just count our blessings that this did not happen in June when we were in Mexico.  The basement, my quilts, and EVERYTHING would have been in a swimming pool.

On Monday, I was able to get a tech to come and install a whoppingly expensive new tank.  I was side-tracked furthering the cleaning of the basement, sweeping all the floors, cleaning all the floor mats and foam core boards.  And then, I got to the reblocking of the two damaged quilts. Here's some of the red bleed...

 and the bleed went through to the backside too.
 The quilt discharged a lot of brown dye (I did a cold soak), but a hot soak would have made the piping at the binding pucker, so I went conservative.  It is dye on the back is gone, and that leaf I showed is better. Not gone, but better.
 On Wednesday afternoon, I prepared the tub for Big Bertha...submerged by the water-filled laundry baskets.
 She blocked very easily (or maybe I just have stopped worrying about each and every little minute detail).  Today, I took her off the boards, and was able to place all the other quilts back where they usually reside.  I think it is time to get some 2X4's to raise this palate up just a little bit.
 My kids have been away the last 2 days, giving me that one time all summer to attempt to quilt a big client quilt.  My head and heart are feeling stressed and drained, but with only one week of summer left, it was time.  This is Michelle's guild raffle quilt -- the guild is in NC.  It is a 104" huge quilt!  It has taken its toll on me the last week, but is nearly finished.  I have just one thing to wrap up this weekend!
 Full reveal photos when I get it off the frame.
Hopefully I haven't scared any of my clients -- your quilts are ALL just fine.  They were all stored in a safe location, off of the floor.  Those of you who use your basement as a quilting studio, though, beware of what can happen...keep things safe down there!!


Susan ACEVEDO said...

So sorry to hear of your near disaster...had a sewer back up 1 year everything in the basement is in plastic bins 3 feet off the floor
It's so tragic but as you said .. Most is salvageable ..reading your tail brought out my own memories..glad you are ok
Thanks for all your inspiration !!

Sewing Up A Storm said...

I bet your post does not even begin to describe the nightmare you have endured the past few days. I am so glad you were able to restore the quilts that got wet. Good for you to be able to get that quilt you were working on back on track to being finished........what I can see of it looks like it will be awesome!!!

Mary Bolton said...

OMG! Glad you are in the recovery phase!

Becky (My Fabric Obsession) said...

Oh my gosh! I was reading this with horror! I'm so glad the damage wasn't worse and that you were able to salvage your beautiful quilts. Hopefully raising your foam drying area will be more convenient for you in addition to the added safety for your beautiful work.