Tuesday evening was a bit of an emergency situation at the farm because we received an epic amount of rain and our electricity went off because of several tornados and strong winds in the area. With no electricity to run our sump pump to take water out of our basement, which was rapidly pouring in, our basement was flooding and the same thing was happening to my mom who lives next door by herself. We were able to eventually get some gas pumps and generators(stuff that was sitting around that hadn't been used in years and that all had dubious spark plugs) set up but not until 4-5 inches of water had entered each of our the basements. Luckily my mom keeps gas on hand and we were able to power the pumps because the whole town was out of power(you can't get gas at the gas station without electricity) and many roads to other communities were closed due to downed trees and localized flooding.
It was a long, rough and tiring night. We were running a gas powered pond pump to remove water from our basement but we were unable to adequately vent the gas pump that was at the bottom of our basement stairs and it filled our house with carbon monoxide gas. We new the levels were high and kept out of the house which meant we were in the rain and our van with our cats all night. We made the decision to run the pump to avoid thousands of dollars of damage to the furnace, water heater and well pressure tank that are in the basement.
We called the natural gas company to disable our service in case the flooding that happened before we got the gas powered pump working had put out the pilot light on our water heater so that the house wouldn't fill with natural gas. When the man from the natural gas company arrived he didn't know we were in our van and his Carbon Monoxide meter went off so he called the first responders in a panic worried that someone was passed out in the basement.
The fire department showed up and ventilated the house. We were unable to turn the pump back on after that. It was about 4:30 in the morning and it was still raining so we figured despite our efforts the basement was to be flooded anyway...and at that point we were so exhausted and glad to be alive that we accepted that as our reality.
Eventually the rain let up and in the morning we were surprised to find that it had made all the difference. Water hadn't continued to pour in at epic rates and there was only an inch or two of water on the floor. The fact that we were able to pump out the majority of it with the pond pump had saved the basement, and fortunately no one was hurt in the process. Most things in the basement were up on cement blocks and would be ok.
In the morning when stores opened we were able to purchase a generator to run a pump that didn't have to be located inside to continue to remove the water. The rain stopped completely too, which helped.
The electric company was unable to give any estimate of when power would be restored which made it almost impossible for us to know if we were going to be able to pull off this weeks share. The generators we got on Wednesday morning were able to keep a couple refrigerators going for eggs and a couple perishable things, but not big enough for the walk-in cooler. We had to purchase a lot of ice and kept the cooler closed so that the residual cooling from before the electricity went out wouldn't escape. If it came to it we thought we might even put unwashed produce in peoples shares. Thankfully the power was restored at 7:30 pm Wednesday night which allowed us to get the walkin cooler back on and allowed us to wash this morning, but that was no small undertaking after a very stressful turn of events. It usually takes us the better part of a day to wash all the produce for our CSA boxes.
Jeff Schreiber has been farming organically for 10 years. In 2011 he started Three Sisters Community Farm with his wife, Kelly.