In hints, a When the flood came we prepared with a long plastic sewer spreader that moved away from the house, but the water somehow got into the basement. I have a small piece of Wi-Fi-connected wall art that shows up in colorful LEDs where all the trains are in New York City. We saw line after line go dark. We then spent a long night rescuing storage boxes and bail puddles with a takeout container. When the water wasn’t coming in, we checked Twitter, Where you will see parallel storms — subway waterfalls, sink geysers, hallway creeks. There was a picture of him trying to deliver food by bike in waist-deep water. It’s all very felt Cyberpunk: Plastic tendrils are coming out of the house, social media is threading the crisis in real time, gig workers are endangered by their life-controlling apps, the roads have become liquid. But of course the sun has risen.
We used to hang out, desperately. The neighbor next door to our house said he had been here for 20 years and had never seen it before, which made it one of the only events in two decades. No one had a sump pump. My shrug, who owned a house a block away, said he could probably remember a major flood in the vicinity 30 or 35 years ago. Could have been more. So: a three-time-a-century event. (Of course probability doesn’t work that way; I was just trying to figure out just how weird things can get.)
My contractions make me repeat several times a day: I will stay calm anyway. And No matter what happens, I can handle it. And I will extend my expectations. That’s the whole point. Things will happen, stay calm, manage it. I started to see him because I was screaming at my kids for stupid things (I stopped most of the time), but it’s also not a bad method for flooding. We Did (Hydrostatic) Stay calm under pressure. Another flood will surely come, though, which means it’s time to expand our expectations.
My wife and I do this through shared spreadsheets. There’s a lot to do-for example, I dropped the basement couch when the mushrooms sprouted-but most of the work falls into the universal unit of home care: Guy. Gutter guy, floor guy, roof guy and plumber (the “guy” there is silent). They assume I’m a guy too, but it’s my wife that does the construction work, so when they come I hide upstairs. Later he comes and draws a diagram on an ePaper tablet to explain what is going to happen. I nod and say simple words like questions, like “Pipes?” Or “sewer?” This is the language of our love.
Spreadsheets are fine for dealing with our basements, but I don’t think they will scale every basement in the world. And because, like so many people, I’m obsessing over Climate change, I’m looking for software tools that will help us all plan. A friend suggested Temprate, which sounds good — let’s call it a “climate mitigation wizard” for the community, to make sure you’ve thought about floods, hurricanes, heat waves, and fires. I’ve messed with free trials, but I’m not a community. Then I read through toolkit.climate.gov. The problem there is that the government offers about 500 “tools” — some websites, some PDFs — from shareable sunscreen memes to calculators that tell you about the risk of germs on your local beach. It’s like browsing pamphlets at a health clinic. I found some helpful checklists, but I’m not (yet) coastal wetlands, so they weren’t as effective as they could be.