house made of mud

rescuing a sonoran row house


so this past weekend it rained here in tucson. and then it rained some more. and some more. and still more. it rained until the arroyos filled, and the washes turned into rivers. it rained so much they had to rescue people in sabino canyon. it rained until i thought the pool at our current house was going to overflow–which would have been a first. it rained enough to two days’ worth of  records. it rained until it felt as though it was raining directly on my brain, until just the sound of water trickling outside was enough to make me seize up. it rained to the point that i think i may never enjoy rain again.

the rain on thursday evening wasn’t so bad–by friday morning the tarping over the top of our barrio house seemed to be doing an okay job. there were definitely some leaks here and there, but nothing too terrible. so long as it stayed like that, we thought–just some light rain–even if it was extended, we might be okay.

by late friday afternoon, though, it was pouring. chris and i drove over the house around 4:30, and went in to discover a water land. there was four inches of standing water in one corner of what will be our guest bathroom. there was a spigot of water coming through the tarps and pouring into the top of what was left of the collapsed wall in the zaguan. chris got up on a ladder and rearranged the tarps to halt it, at least temporarily. there was another spigot of water flowing down the outside front wall in what will be our closet, creating a channel that was already several inches deep. in various spots all around the house the tarp was ponding–too much of that, we knew, and the weight might take out the ceiling joists. we found a scrap of lumber with a pointed end and i went around popping holes in order to relieve the pressure, though the few rain barrels and wheel barrels that the crew had left to catch water in various rooms were already overflowing. “it’s a disaster,” i said to chris.

we called in the crew. by the time they began to arrive, dark was coming on. chris had to go to a work dinner, so i ran him home then went back armed with his super-bright bike headlight. and then sean, herman, tino, elias and i spent a couple of hours going from room to room trying to get the water–which by now was coming everywhere–away from the walls. the guys used pieces of corrugated metal we had lying out in the yard to try to shunt the leaks into the middle of the rooms. we also started shoveling holes and creating channels in the lower lying sections on the west side of the building, trying to get it away from the bases of the walls before it could wick up into them. by the time we’d finished, i was soaked almost completely through, and everyone’s shoes were caked in about three inches of mud.  all in all, not the most fun i’ve ever had on a friday night.

it rained through the night. on saturday morning chris and i went over to survey the damage. the guys were already there when we arrived around 7:30, emptying buckets (herman was using a piece of metal as a sort of sluice to send the water he was bailing out a window into the yard) and putting up more pieces of corrugated. there was another wall on the front that was degrading; they added more tarps. sean went up on the roof to work on the puddles with a broom.  the only thing that would truly halt all the damage, though, we knew, was for the rain to stop.

that finally happened around 5’oclock saturday evening.  i’m happy to say that in spite of the havoc the storm caused, we managed to get most of the building through intact. we’re a bit battered at the moment–both in spirit and in actuality–but at least this morning the sun in shining and there isn’t so much as a whiff of moisture in the long range forecast.  here’s to hoping for a drought–or at least a good, long dry spell until we can get the new roof on.

Photo Jan 30, 5 00 32 PM Photo Jan 31, 1 50 40 PM Photo Jan 31, 1 52 45 PM Photo Jan 31, 1 53 34 PM Photo Jan 31, 1 55 48 PM Photo Jan 31, 1 56 04 PM Photo Jan 31, 7 26 01 AM Photo Jan 31, 7 42 04 AM Photo Jan 30, 4 53 35 PM Photo Jan 30, 4 52 30 PM Photo Jan 31, 1 54 19 PM Photo Jan 31, 1 55 12 PM

Photo Feb 01, 2 19 36 PM

1 Comment

  1. Yeah–I know. There is that. And, as another of our friends mentioned over the weekend–at least we hadn’t actually begun rebuilding yet (except for that one small wall). So it’s not like it destroyed all kinds of newly finished adobe walls which would have been far worse.

    Still–the weekend from hell! The moral is: Never take the roof off your adobe when there’s rain in the forecast. (Although, I do think taking the roof off your adobe seems to somehow provoke rain…).

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