Flash Flooding and Black Mold


So sometime during June our roof sprung a leak (ok, more likely it had a leak and was finally causing some interior damage). We knew the roof was at the end of it’s lifespan thanks to our home inspection, but were hoping that it would last another winter, especially since this past winter was very mild for Chicagoland.

Here’s the damage in our master bath. It’s only about 2 feet wide.

Since we knew it had to be replaced soon anyway, we really didn’t want to put more money into something than necessary, so we got quotes from various roofers in the area. The roofing quotes varied by THIRTEEN THOUSAND dollars–all for tear-off replacements including parts, labor, and disposal. So, you know, when your parents and in-laws tell you to get multiple quotes they are not joking. One of the roofers, who my in-laws have used before, happened to be the cheapest AND said they could repair it this summer and deduct the repair cost from the replacement cost next year. So the roof issue is taken care of to the tune of a few hundred bucks.

Now we need to repair the ceiling. To save us money, our plaster guy told us how to prep the area for him. We needed to scrape everything off that was even remotely loose and then put a coat of KILZ white paint on it. Well within our skill set, so we got to work. Naturally, some of the water got into the wall so we had to scrape that too, which is where we found this:

Every homeowner’s worst nightmare–Black Mold. Mainly our worst nightmare thanks to fear mongering by HGTV. Black Mold, when caught this early, is actually really easy to take care of. 

We immediately turned off our air conditioning, so the mold wouldn’t spread through the house, and closed the door to that room. We added a respirator and bleach to our shopping list of painting supplies and opened the front door to find that our street had flooded.

We live at the lowest point of our street, and there are only two storm drains to take care of water. I put on my tall hunter boots and my rain jacket and head out into the storm to make sure the drains weren’t blocked. At this point, the water was about halfway up my calves in the deepest parts of the street. After clearing the leaves we went back inside and waited for the water to drain. About 20 minutes of hard rain later, the water had risen significantly, getting about 10 feet from our front door.

Back out into the rain, this time equipped with a snow shovel I had Sam drill holes in, hoping for a slotted spoon effect. This was our first prototype, it needs more holes in the curved part of the shovel to be effective. We went with this instead of a rake, because about 30% of the time the drains are blocked with sludge more than leaves so a rake isn’t super effective.

This time the drains were clear, just completely overwhelmed with the water. Here’s a sense of how deep it was. My rain boots were essentially useless.

People were still driving through, stupidly. Apparently the other end of the street was even worse. But seriously, don’t drive through water you can’t see the bottom of. You don’t know if the street is still there or it could have washed out, and the depth of the water can cause serious damage to your car. After the storm, the Home Depot parking lot was still flooded at one end, we saw a car try to drive through it and get stuck so please drive safely and avoid driving through flooded streets!

Came inside to dry off, but first I had to empty my boots. Feel free to skip the first 25 seconds of this video as I struggle to remove my boot.

So we called the police nonemergency number to inform them of the situation and to also request that Public Works came to block off our street.

Then the rain let up and we headed outside to meet some neighbors and ensure the storm drains kept clear. Some of our neighbors have lived on the street for about 40 years and said it has never been this bad. It took about 45 minutes and several cleaning trips as leaves kept getting caught up on the drain grate. Basically if we couldn’t see a whirlpool draining we went to clear the drain. Finally the street was clear of water!

That dark line in the middle of our lawn is where the water rose to!

And, I am not making this up, literally within 3 minutes of the street being fully drained, public works showed up and we had to stop them from putting cones down to block the street!

So we finally went out to Home Depot, came back and found out that respirators don’t fit either of us well since I wear glasses and Sam has a crooked nose. It fit Sam better and he scraped the ceiling, and fortunately those few dots of mold were all we had! Threw up a coat of Kilz paint and then our plaster guy came this morning to repair the damage. (He also repaired the wall that needed a little bit of TLC.

So there you have it! How was your Friday? Hopefully less eventful than ours.

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