FEMA just moved our entire community into a flood zone. We are now required by our mortgage lenders to purchase flood insurance costing $1600 to $2000 a year. And that’s on top of our regular homeowners’ policies. I promise you that if our neighborhood is wiped out by rising tide water it will be because Armageddon has arrived, not bad weather. We have NEVER had a flooding problem in our area, which is why FEMA can be certain they can hose us for pointless policies without ever having to pay out. I told my insurance agent that it feels like extortion. He said if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck. . .
I can only recall one water incident in the basement since we moved into our house. It was about twenty years ago, and I remember exactly how it unfolded. I had just put up a load of wash and come upstairs to start dinner. Son and Daughter were sitting at the kitchen table (here you might surmise they were helping with dinner. You would be ridiculous. They were sitting at the table) and after a while I realized they were talking very loud so I told them to pipe down. Except when I said it, I said it just as loud. Which made me wonder, why are we all talking like we’re deaf? Maybe it was to drown out the bizarre noise coming from the basement. Figuring it was our elderly washing machine, I kept on cooking.
I cut up the salad and finished the chicken cutlets. Telling the kids to set the table, I descended the basement stairs to check on the strange noise. As I stepped off the last step, I knew in an instant the evening was about to change direction. Any homeowner who has ever felt the squish of sneaker on soaked carpet knows the dread that sensation inspires. It has a sound too: cha-ching! That’s the melody of an insurance deductible about to be met. In a panic, I looked into the laundry room, already under two inches of water. What I saw was something out of a cartoon. The black rubber hose running from the washer to the wall connection had popped free and water was projectile streaming from the wall at a fantastic rate. It was also spraying out of the detached hose with a force that made the rubber tubing dance around like a spastic colon.
Realizing it was the cold water and I wouldn’t get scalded, I held up my hands like Sonny Liston fighting off Muhammed Ali and battled my way close enough to the hose to strangle it into submission. Then I reached for the faucet on the wall and started turning it while my face got pummeled with thick ribbons of water. By now both kids were in the basement cheering me on and sloshing around in the deductible. “Hey look!” Son called out. “My He-Man figure floats!” I looked to where he was pointing over by the electrical outlet, and suddenly it occurred to me that this could be how otherwise intelligent people get electrocuted, so I started to scream intelligently for everyone to get upstairs. We arrived at the top step, drenched and dripping, just in time to greet their father coming home from work. He must have connected the dots pretty quickly because he said a single word that started out like FEMA but ended in a place entirely different.
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