Montclair’s Bravest Still Pumping Basements Out

When Hurricane Irene slammed into Baristaville on Sunday, water began pouring into basements. Some people had French drains and sump pumps and electricity that remained on the whole time. Some had the sump pumps but no electricity. I had neither. (In my defense, I’ve never installed a drainage system because my basement has only flooded once before in 22 years.)

Plus I had an electrical wire down in the back yard, a husband covering the storm in New York City and responsibility for reporting the local hurricane story on Baristanet. My whole street was out of power, and I was more frantic about not getting the internet than anything else — but by the middle of the afternoon, with generators cranking all around me, and my neighbors deep in the mucky business of pumping their basements out, it dawned on me that I should be doing something to remediate the six inches of standing water. “Call the police,” one neighbor said. “Ask them to send the fire department to pump you out.” So I did.

Earlier in the day, the Montclair Fire Department had said that it would help homeowners pump out basements with four feet of standing water. “We had to do that,” says MFD Deputy Chief Tom Diveny, who has been overseeing the pumping operation. “We were getting so overwhelmed.” The four-foot figure was also chosen because that’s the level at which water would start to enter fuse boxes and create an electrical hazard.

Needless to say, we didn’t meet the criterion. Still I called.

The fire department came by, looked at our basement, our downed wire — and initially turned us down. The big pumps wouldn’t work in standing water less than a foot high. Nevertheless, when I saw a small fire vehicle down the street, and pleaded my case to Battalion Chief Steve Miscia, he promised he’d send a crew by with a smaller pump. There was only one catch. We needed power. As soon as I got to borrow a generator, Miscia promised, he’d come back.

I was on an informal neighborhood list to borrow a generator after two other neighbors used it. By after four hours, it was still in use. By this time, my husband was back from the city, and we decided to link together five heavy-duty extension cords to pull some power from a neighbor (realtor Roberta Baldwin!) who lives about four houses down and across the street.

True to his word, Battalion Chief Miscia came back. He waited patiently while we found the final 100 feet of extension cords. Then, while his men pumped us out, he stood talking to us, telling us about the homeowner whom he’d helped earlier in the day who’d recently moved from the city — and had no idea what to do with a generator he’d just bought.

Miscia talked softball with my husband. Turns out my husband has pitched to him in the Glen Ridge over-30 league, and tomorrow Miscia will be playing in the World’s Police and Fire Games in Cantiague Park in Hicksville N.Y. Miscia talked with me about  9/11 and the famous fires the MFD has fought in Glen Ridge. Even my daughter had a connection with him; his goddaughter had taught her gym in high school.

Standing outside in the cool post-Irene breeze, shooting the breeze as my basement water came pouring out of a fire hose, getting to know a fireman — it was all good. Even if we didn’t have power. Even if we still don’t.

Since then, the MFD has pumped hundreds of basements out and now, says Diveny “we’re pretty much going to anybody.”

They’re pumping still.

 

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67 COMMENTS

  1. Wow…you got a hell of a lot of nerve charming your way ahead of your fellow taxpayers with FEET of water still in their basement and no power (like 2 of my neighbors still waiting for help from MFD). Way to brag about you cutting the line. Jeez.

  2. I was in the Glen Ridge line, which was separate, and I was worried about having a downed wire in my yard. I also spent the entire weekend getting info out to everybody about what was going on locally, taking a break only from 1 to 4 am on Sunday, even though I had and have no power, but if you think I’m living a charmed life, so be it.

  3. “They had a separate detail just doing Glen Ridge.”

    With different rules? Quit while you’re ahead.

  4. Wow…you got a hell of a lot of nerve charming your way ahead of your fellow taxpayers with FEET of water still in their basement and no power (like 2 of my neighbors still waiting for help from MFD). Way to brag about you cutting the line. Jeez.

    I believe you have just violated the posting guidelines, kindero. The sentence: immediate and total banishment.

    Let us count the ways:

    Don’t change the subject.
    You changed the subject from positive to negative. Guilty.

    Bring something new.
    You simply repeated what the item already said. Guilty.

    Mind your manners.
    ‘Nuf said. Guilty

    No one cares how smart you are.
    Guilty!

    Comment clarity counts..
    Okay, you were pretty clear. Not guilty.

    Don’t hide behind your anonymity..
    Guilty, unless you can show a NJ driver’s license issued to one Kin D. Ero.

    Respectfully disagree..
    Busted!

    Beware commenter’s remorse..
    I know you’re feeling sorry now. Guilty.

    Ignore the trolls.
    Except me, of course.

    Don’t bore us – and everyone else.
    Get in line, buddy.

  5. Have to agree with kindero 100%. Only 6″ of water in ur basement …

    Why should someone with 4ft of water be trumped? Sidling up to the firefighters like that … Not fair.

  6. Sorry, but I have to agree as well. If you receive preferential treatment (not that most haven’t in some way or form at some point in their lives), better to keep it to yourself, otherwise your likely to get the responses you are now.
    Especially if as you say 4ft is “the level at which water would start to enter fuse boxes and create an electrical hazard” so essentially diverting resources from someone who might have needed it more.

  7. I hear what everyone is saying but I find it hard to be resentful since I and my sump pump were so unaffected by the storm. I do hope that others received the help they needed.

    Can I just have a little Chicken Noodle, walleroo?

  8. No! No soup for anyone! All posters (except moi) are hereby banished. This site is now called Walleroo’s Baristanet™

    Katie, please make the necessary design changes.

  9. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not resentful – not at all. Am just calling a spade a spade.

    If the shoe were on the other foot & it were your basement that had 4ft of water in it, and your neighbor was getting their placed pumped of 6″ of water, I can’t imagine you’d find any right in that.

  10. The person living in the house behind ours had 7ft of water in her basement. She called the fire department and they refused to pump her basement because she had septic. Had to use our generator and a spare pump from home depot. It took 10 hours to pump it out.

  11. Yikes, where does one even put 7 ft of water that is being pumped out of a basement?

    Walleroo, you always crack me up. Even just looking at the little photo of you in a pink shirt puts a smile on my face.

  12. BradleyBeach… Fire Dept cannot not pump raw sewage, nor should anyone. Where did you pump the sewage to? The street? Your back yard? How did you dispose of it? It’s called illegal and pollution. Better throw away that spare pump.

    The FD dedicated units for Glen Ridge in an effort to expedite the process for GR residents. It makes for sense strategically to break Mtc and GR into sections. All rules are the same.

    With a storm of this magnitude and the amount of people that were affected, everyone cannot be happy. The Fire Dept and Police tried to service homes on a priority basis. For example, someone with water about to go over their electric panel would get pumped before someone with two or three feet of water.

  13. Deb,

    Buy two generators. (you can write them off as a business expense) Use one to keep B’net running 24/7 in your home during power loss and plaster the other one with Ads typically seen on Baristanet. Let your neighbors use it (and earn income from the advertisers.) Use that profit to put a sump pump in every corner of your basement. Add a back up battery to the sump pumps. Take a nap. Sleeping from 1a-4a is not a good thing.
    Figure out who needs their basement pumped out the most, and use your spot on the Glen Ridge Line to send the double secret firemen to someone who needs it more. Doing a deed like that will help you sleep better too!

  14. What’s going to happen when Katya hits?
    The MFD is going to make us all sign up for pumping.
    No going out of order or you get smacked down.
    Let the games begin!

  15. EWWWWWW !!!!

    Are people so dumb that they really pumped sewage out of a basement to god knows where? WTF ! Even after authorities said no. Well there is proof we derailed evolution somewhere.

    And if one idiot did it then you know a dozen more did it.

    To my horrid neighbors who leaves trash out 24/7 an allow animals to scatter it up and down the block. I’m sorry for all the mean things I’ve said ~ you aren’t the most disgusting people in Essex county.

  16. Our neighbors had water, but were turned down because they didn’t have 6′. They also HAD power. Wrong of FD to make and then bend rules.

  17. Why is the Fire Department pumping out anyone’s basement? Aren’t the police and fire department public entities put in place to deal with public issues? Isn’t a flooded baement a uniquely personal problem? A basement of a school I could see. But someone’s house?

    Unlike my cheap-assed neighbor, I brought a sump pump w/ battery backup. Can I get a refund from the town now that I didn’t need the Fire Department?

    Can I get the guys from the Fire Department to clean my attic when they are done with basements?

  18. i tend to agree with yougottalovehim. I live in one the worst flood areas of Montclair, my neighbors all had 4’+ water in their basement even with a sump pump. The fire department is not pumping out flooded basements.

    Myself and another neighbor grabbed buckets and paled 90% of the water from their basements out the windows. It was a devastating site walking into their basement into chest high water, but we stayed at it for 2 hrs until it was below ankle level. Then let the sump pump take care of the rest. I was exhausted, but a hug the next day was all worth it!

    We should not use public resources for private problems like flood water in basement. People should take precaution before the flooding comes.

    Some examples:

    Buy extensions for downspouts that go out to street or far from your home. Cost me $25 at Home Depot for a plastic downspout converter to 4 inch plastic piping and a couple of elbow pieces.

    Have your sump pump drain to the street or at least 15ft from the base of your home.

    Buy a pool pump and a long hose

    Have a battery or gas generator to run in case of power outages

    Planning ahead was easy, this storm was predicted for DAYS & DAYS ahead of time. Youtube is a great for DIY projects.

  19. Have to agree with raeven. While I don’t always agree with Roo (usually do), he is very funny, pretty smart and, at least by his picture, adorable.

  20. We don’t have a sub pump. My husband got the bright idea to use the pump from his turtle pit and it worked like a charm! Of course, we only had about 4 to 5 inches of water but hey, whatever works.

    Next project: Getting rid of the mildewy smell. It’s gradually fading but not 100 percent gone yet.

  21. Is it possible to avoid calling people idiots and dumb and whatever else for helping out their neighbors? Advice and constructive criticism can be given without resorting to obnoxious comments. It’s amazing to me how people will jump on others without knowing the facts of a situation.

  22. Kyle wrote:

    Buy extensions for downspouts that go out to street or far from your home. Cost me $25 at Home Depot for a plastic downspout converter to 4 inch plastic piping and a couple of elbow pieces.

    Have your sump pump drain to the street…

    Kyle, I’m pretty sure that as of 2007 or so, due to new EPA stormwater/groundwater regulations, both of these are now prohibited.

  23. “Ain’t nothing wrong with the fire department helping out people after a natural disaster.”

    I disagree. Not to sound cold and callous, but I don’t pay the fire department to help clean up people’s homes. If I have a house fire does the fire department remove burned debris and board up my house. I don’t think so. I don’t know where this thing started that the Fire Department can be called to help people get their homes back in order. Ridiculous.

    Helping people after a disaster? Isn’t that what volunteer agencies such as the American Red Cross do?

  24. Ain’t nothing wrong with the fire department helping out people after a natural disaster.

    Just don’t let them ask for any wage increases, right? ;0)

  25. Basements often have electrical and gas appliances and damage to these can cause fires – that is why the FD pumps.

  26. “I disagree. Not to sound cold and callous, but I don’t pay the fire department to help clean up people’s homes.”

    You want them to sit in the station house shining their unused pumps?

  27. I like it when you’re so insouciantly frisky, walleroo. It makes even your usual slavish affability bearable, But I also imagine you now as a candidate for the thumbscrews, rack and iron maiden. (Or, worse and more fearsome yet, being forced to listen to someone read Bariastanet blogs out loud to you while you’re tied down in someone’s flooded basement.) My compliments, sir.

    But then, I also miss the good prof, who is conspicuous of late by his absence. Why is that, I wonder?

  28. Have your sump pump drain to the street or at least 15ft from the base of your home.

    but…that only works if the street itself is not flooded, right? or if the discharge pipe doesn’t end up blocked with some detrius that floated down the road?

    I’m pretty sure that as of 2007 or so, due to new EPA stormwater/groundwater regulations, both of these are now prohibited.

    @Mayor Carl, since I am on the naive side I can’t quite tell if you are being facetious. If you aren’t, where exactly is one supposed to discharge the sump, if not to the sewer or street??

    What! Prof Banished??! nooo!

  29. The prof will be missed. Based on a quick read on Patch it appears he can return is a week. Is that correct ROC? I only went over there to find the prof and it appears he’s been sent to a corner to mull over the err of his posting ways. It’s hard for me to believe that his post could have been that offensive especially when compared to some of the other posts found on this site. I’m guessing it was “Irene” madness.

  30. The prof’s sentence must have been served by now. It’s only a week of the gulag. I suspect he’s staying away out of spite. But don’t worry, he’ll come back.

    We all do, eventually.

  31. Kay,

    I was quite serious. In 2007 or so (I was mayor at the time, so it was no later than that) a whole batch of new regs regarding stormwater/groundwater were handed down from the EPA to the states, and then by the states to the counties and the towns (regs run downhill). They (especially the ones involving road salt) cost the towns a pretty penny. As I recall, one of them prohibits sending roof run-off and sump water into the stormwater system (it was already illegal to send it into the sanitary sewer). I believe that it is intended to preserve aquifer levels.

    I am no expert on the subject, but I’m guessing you’re supposed to use french drains.

  32. French drains are a fine idea, Carl. It sure helped us this time around. The basement stayed dry, and the storm water was pumped up to grade, where, upon being discharged, and, being clean, it had no environmental impact, except, perhaps, over-watering our burning bush and flooding select portions of our lawn.

  33. I’m glad to hear others similarly miss the prof. Alas, he had no Zola to plead his case as soon as sentence was delivered, seemingly by a “Star Chamber” kind of proceeding, too. (I’m looking at YOU here, walleroo!) Oh well, I trust he’ll be back from Babylon as soon as possible.

    And why is a certain kind of drain called a “French drain?” I’m serious here. Try as I might, the only explanations I can come up for this one are all salacious.

  34. Ever as always the dogged researcher, cathar.

    The French drain is named for Henry French, an American judge and assistant Treasury Secretary who invented and popularized the drain in his scintillating work , FARM DRAINAGE. Why, I would expect YOU to have read the work, in Latin, and be ready to offer a dozen reasons why it was not all that.

    I too miss prof, but I know that he’ll be back.

  35. Up already, eh, croiagusanam? So prosaic an explanation. I prefer my several versions better.

    But aren’t you just the least bit curious, croiagusanam, to find out, if you were “banned” for a week, who’d miss you? The good prof seems popular, after all, has a kind of memory imprint on his fellow posters. Whereas so many of your posts simply seem to go down the (French, to be sure) drain.

  36. You guys remind me of this game I got once for Christmas: Rock’em Sock’em Robots. But you’re much funnier.

    I am flattered, cathar, that you would make me a Privy Counsellor, but actually I’m more of an East Ender.

  37. I HAVE been banned cathar. And I sometimes ban myself. In both cases, I don’t care one whit who “misses” me and who doesn’t. Do such things cause you sleepless moments? Pity. For I fear that you will be the sort who will be consumed by your cats before anyone knows you’re “gone”.

  38. where’s the vitriol and political correctness crowd…marlene wrote….”i call a spade a spade’…where is the faux indignation and affrontery? Isn’t anyone else offended? I want an apology from this website for allowing such righteous bigotry and hate language. I want her arrested for spewing hate language.

    No justice no peace.

  39. The prof banned?? Why, when, where, how?? I must have been sick that day? He’s the last person I would think to be banned!
    I’m shocked & awed!!

  40. Iceman | AUGUST 31, 2011 @ 8:55 PM
    “where’s the vitriol and political correctness crowd…marlene wrote….”i call a spade a spade’…where is the faux indignation and affrontery? Isn’t anyone else offended? I want an apology from this website for allowing such righteous bigotry and hate language. I want her arrested for spewing hate language.”

    You’re kidding, right, Ice? Investigate the etymology of the phrase. In it’s original form, It referred to a shovel – you know, a shovel? As in, calling a shovel a shovel.

    The racial slur you’re possibly getting worked up about ( or feigning to get worked up about ) developed sometime later, sort of like “baboon”.

  41. Thanks Mayor Carl… this is surprising to me… so if one’s house is built on a high water table, where water burbles up even when you just want to plant a shrub, French drains aren’t going to do much, right? And if there’s no permissible discharge, where does the water that is in the sump pit go, while the pump is working??

    Besides the fun and hilarity generated here by so many folks, including Lil’ Pink Shirt, Cro the Irish-speaking dreamboat, Tudlow and Dag, the Teachers We All Wish We Had, and former VP Quayle, I also get eddicated by BaristaFrenz! RoC taught me about trees, and even Steve Schuckman chimed in; Frankgg teaches me about history and architecture; Sandy and Jimmy talk cars; and Cathar teaches me really obscure stuff that I have to go look up later. And Mayor Carl… well you know how long I’ve been asking for you to move to Montclair and run for office… Y’all are the best!

  42. “Needless to say, we didn’t meet the criterion. Still I called.”

    Of course you did. Because you’re special, right?
    Then when they refused you for legitimate reasons, you went to extra measures to get special treatment anyway? I wonder if you used the promise (or threat) of a Baristanet story to persuade them to help you?

    We had 6 inches of water throughout our basement, too. Did we go begging the Fire Dept to bend the rules for us? No. We bought a small pump at Home Depot and we pumped out our basement of most of the water. Its called home ownership and resolving your own problems instead of feeling entitled to special treatment. If the MFD was helping ppl, then the ppl with serious flooding and damage should’ve been the priority.

  43. For what you really smart people pay in taxes, one would think you’d be smart enough to have a generator as a power source. These are all common sense things, and I’m sure you had to expect something would happen. The news only spoke about it for a week! Be prepaired for the worse, hope for the best. Stop depending on others to pump out basements when there are real problems. Once the water in, the damage is done. PREVENT IT.

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