On cue, a flood came. The flood came despite our preparations with long, plastic gutter extenders that ran away from the house. However, water got into the basement anyway. A small piece of WiFi-connected wall art shows colored LEDs the locations of all the trains in New York City. As line after line went black, we watched. We spent the night salvaging storage boxes and bridging puddles using a takeout container. We checked Twitter to see the torrent in parallelsubway waterfalls and sink geysers. One picture showed someone trying to deliver food by riding a bicycle in waist-deep water. All of it felt very cyberpunk. Plastic tendrils were coming off the house. Social media was threading the crisis in real-time. Gig workers were put at risk by apps that control their lives. Streets turned to liquid. The sun rose, of course.
We wandered about, feeling groggy. We wandered around, groggy. Our neighbor next door said that he had lived here for 20 years and hadn't seen anything like it before. Nobody had a sump machine. My shrink, who lived a block away from me, said that he can recall a flood somewhere in the area about 30 or 35 years back. It could have been much longer. So: a three-times-a-century event. (Of course, probability doesn't work that way; I was trying to figure out how bizarre things might get.
My shrink keeps repeating to me, many times per day, that I will be calm no matter what. It doesn't matter what happens, it won't affect me. I will expand my expectations. That's it. It happens. Be calm and handle it. I first started seeing him as I was shouting at my children about stupid stuff. I've mostly stopped but it's a good approach for floods. We did stay calm under (hydrostatic) pressure. We must expect another flood to come.
This is what my wife and I do together using shared spreadsheets. There is a lot of work to be done. I had to throw away my basement couch because it was sprouting mushrooms. But the majority of the work comes down to the one universal unit of homecare: the Guy. Gutter guy (the guy is silent), floor guy, roof man, and plumber. They assume that I am also a man, but my wife works in construction. I hide upstairs whenever they arrive. Later, she appears and draws diagrams on an electronic tablet to show what's happening. I smile and nod, saying simple words like Pipes or Sewer. That's our love language.
While spreadsheets work well for our basement, I doubt they will scale to all basements. Because I obsess over climate change like many others, I have been searching for software tools to help us all plan. Temperate was recommended by a friend. It's a climate mitigation tool for communities. You can think about floods, hurricanes and heat waves. I tried the free trial but it was not for me. After that, I went to toolkit.climate.gov. There are approximately 500 websites and PDFs available from the government. Some include shareable sunscreen memes, calculators, and even ones that show you the risk of catching a pathogen at your beach. It's almost like looking through pamphlets at a clinic. Although I did find some useful checklists, I'm not a coastal dweller so they weren’t as helpful as I would have liked.