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The Uninvited

August 29, 2011

“The art of being a good guest is to know when to leave.” ~ Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Irene arrived and proved to be a messy house guest. As we were pelted with hard rain and wicked wind gusts, our three sump pumps were overcome and the cellar flooded within an hour. Our hot water heater and furnace are housed down there.


When the sun rose on Sunday our view from the porch was transformed from this to ‘beach front’ property complete with seagulls and sandpipers.

Water View


We are now residing on a (temporary) island.


Considering the damages Irene left in her wake locally—a tornado touched down, hundred year old trees were uprooted and the worst news, a young woman lost her life when she was trapped in her car during a flash flood—we are blessed. Besides, Scout enjoys digging for clams.

clam digger
Thank you for your e-mails, comments and prayers.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2011 10:37 pm

    Oh hon — I am so happy you are safe. but UGGGH this looks like quiet mess to clean up.

    Thanks for keeping us posted. So happy you are all ok and scout is happy!! 🙂


  2. August 29, 2011 10:42 pm

    I’m so glad to hear that you are alright & safe, even if you do have a mess to clean. Hopefully you’ll be able to get the cellar drained soon.

  3. August 29, 2011 10:45 pm

    Wow Deborah, that’s a bit shocking. But like you said, it could have been worse. And Scout is happy:) Hopefully things will return to somewhat of a normal state soon. Take a deep breath…..

  4. August 29, 2011 10:52 pm

    Im so relieved to see this post! I’ve been thinking about you, Thomas, Scout and the Fairfield House! So glad you whether the storm. Lots of love from Southern California. xoxo C

  5. August 30, 2011 1:02 am

    Didn’t Franklin also say that fish and guests stink after 3 days? Glad to hear you made it through, but our deepest sympathy for the basement troubles. My FIL in N. Brunswick has been dealing with the same basement issues – no working pump right now. Please stay safe.

    Absolutely love the photo of Scout. Did you have a hard time getting him to come back inside?

    xoxo michele

  6. August 30, 2011 1:59 am

    So sorry you are having to deal with this mess. The cleanup can be draining of both body and spirit. So many of our NJ friends and coworkers were affected…basements flooded, tree damage, and more. Thankfully, most were fairly minor damages, when you consider the loss of life…or all worldly possessions.

    The waters will recede…and you will empty your basement, and replace your appliances…and be back to normal before you know it.

  7. Dee permalink
    August 30, 2011 5:31 am

    Holy Cow!!! I guess the upside is, waterfront property values are still pretty high. It must be so odd to see water outside your windows. Thank God everyone is safe at The Fairfield House and she has not sustained too much damage (besides the nasty cellar dweller). We lost an immense tree in our side yard, ripped right from the roots and missed hitting our kitchen (where the entire family was stationed all day) by literally 1 inch. The top leaves just brushing the siding. The funny thing was – no one heard it fall. Scout looks like he is having a blast.

  8. August 30, 2011 5:47 am

    I am glad to hear that you suffered no more damage that you did. My husband and I just moved my youngest daughter up to Richmond, VA the weekend before the earthquake and now hurricane, so we’ve watched both events with great interest. I pray that your recovery is quick and easy.

    BTW, Scout looks a great deal like our 7.5 year old Feist, Lucy, with the one black spot on her front left shoulder… and loving to dig – only here, for moles.

    Until next time,

  9. 'D' permalink
    August 30, 2011 5:55 am

    So sorry for the damage that Irene has left for you. We were lucky, just a lot of dead branches and leaves torn from the trees, and two days without the computer, phone & tv. When we see the damage that Irene caused, we just shake our heads in disbelief and thank God for sparing us. Praying that this new storm forming stays out to sea. Take care my friend. May God Bless you and Fairfield House.

  10. August 30, 2011 7:22 am

    OMG! That is alot of water in your basement! I am assuming that you still have power though. That is so sad about the young lady. Poor thing! How horrible! I am glad that you are all okay. I was thinking about you all weekend. Looks like Scout will have his work cut out for him though! I hope that things get back to normal for you soon! Much love and hugs to you my friend!

  11. August 30, 2011 7:29 am

    Oh my goodness! If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it.

    If I were a fortune teller I’d have to say “I see tons of work in your future.”

    I am SO thankful that you and Thomas are safe.

    You are welcome to send the excess H2O here. 🙂

    Blessings of dryness to you my friend.

  12. August 30, 2011 7:32 am

    Oh Deborah! I have been so worried about you…I’m glad you’re ok, but I’m so sorry for all the damage to your home. That poor young woman…my heart breaks for her family. I wish I lived closer to you, I’d come help bail out some of that water! You poor thing! I hope your insurance will cover everything. Love you dearly and praying for you all!

  13. August 30, 2011 7:35 am

    Oh Deborah! I was wondering throughout the weekend if you had evacuated but had a feeling you stayed with your home. I’m so relieved to hear you are safe but sorry to hear about the the woman who died there and others along the coast.

    So, your beach front property is beautiful, but I’m guessing a bit inconvinient. Scout is obviously adjusting well. Do you own a boat?

  14. August 30, 2011 7:49 am

    Darn those typos! I usually don’t comment this early in the morning! Anyway, it just struck me, you must have a boat…or really tall waders…since you got that photo looking at the house from the water. Like I said, it’s too early for me…

  15. August 30, 2011 8:04 am

    I’m so sorry about your basement…
    I thought about you this weekend!!
    What a view–it looks like you have oceanfront property!
    We escaped a lot of the damage our neighbors sadly suffered…but it was very scary riding out this storm all weekend.
    I’m so happy to hear you are safe and that beautiful home is in tact.
    My worst fear was that the 200+ year old trees on my property would fall on my home. I certainly could handle picking up the branches and such afterwards… 🙂
    Enjoy the beautiful sunshine this week.
    We have a lot to be grateful for, my friend.
    Warmest Wishes,
    Bilancia Designs

  16. August 30, 2011 8:10 am

    Haha. I love the picture of Scout. 🙂
    Sorry to hear your basement flooded. 😦 I hope it will be okay and that your insurance will cover you. ♥

  17. August 30, 2011 8:15 am

    omg – I should know where you are but don’t recall….My husband and I left our house in RI to stay at my parents in MA. We lost power Sunday morning at 5:42am and will not regain power until Labor Day weekend…my daughter was to start school this morning but school is on hold until further notice because of the road closures, trees down, live wires, and no power to the schools. Luckily, my parents live only an hour away but leaving your home is never fun. We chose to evacuate because last March we were part of the historic Rhode Island floods as well. Our house survived the hurricane and the floods but nevertheless, it is still stressful and exhausting. I wish you all the luck and hope that you come away from this a stronger person and even strangers are there to support you!

  18. August 30, 2011 8:21 am

    I’m so glad to hear you are okay even though you have a lot to work on cleaning up. I wish I could pop over and help. Sending prayers for all affected.

  19. August 30, 2011 8:24 am

    Bless your heart! I’ve been wondering about all my blogger friends on the East coast. We have a niece in North Carolina and they weathered the storm ok. My prayers are with all those affected by Irene, especially those families who lost loved ones. I hope your insurance folks are able to get to you soon and any damage to your beautiful home will be repaired quickly. On a lighter note, Scout looks like he’s having the time of his life.

  20. Terri permalink
    August 30, 2011 8:51 am

    As I watched the storm pass us by here in N. Florida…. you were the first one I thought about!! Fairfield House in NJ…. so glad you are still standing and able to press on. On a lighter side… the view “ain’t” that bad… what with sea gulls and all!! lol…… shame about the trees though and historic covered bridges in Vermont as well!!! But..most of all…. it is heart breaking to hear about the loss of life during these storms!!!! Praying for a quick recovery!! Terri

  21. August 30, 2011 9:25 am

    Not the best way to go about getting beach front property! Hopefully everything will dry up soon!


  22. August 30, 2011 9:42 am

    Well at least Scout is enjoying himself.

    I feel your pain, Deborah. Our last house, which sat along a river, now has a first floor half full of water, and that just breaks my heart — those old plaster walls are going to have to come out after 91 years of doing their job, and the huge fieldstone fireplace — I hope its OK. We emerged at That Old House pretty much unscathed; we were incredibly lucky. But so many of our friends are under water.

    Your power going out may have saved your foundation. Sump pumps shouldn’t be used when the ground water is rising as it puts too much pressure on the outside of the foundation walls and none (just air!) on the inside walls. Result? Cracked foundations, even collapsed ones. This is always a problem during floods, as people try and save their basements and boilers and water heaters, and end up losing their foundations.

    So be glad you didn’t have battery backup for your pumps!
    One of our friends is naturally very upset — she had limited experience with floods, and had used the basement sump pump and … their foundation is badly damaged now. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she might have prevented this … as the electricity failed and she ended up with a cellar full of water anyway.

    But you have a big cleanup ahead of you. I know — we did this several times at our old house, in the cellar. Power wash, and then spray with a disinfecting bleach solution, that’s my advice. We never had mold or even mildew. We also threw out anything that came in contact with the water, unless it was completely impermeable — like glass or china. Wood is especially icky after flooding — out it goes.

    Even spray your yard and anything that was covered with flood water with this bleach solution. Chlorine bleach will kill the bad guys, won’t kill your grass or plants, and it breaks down to salt after exposure to air.

    You want to borrow my denim skirt that has all the bleach spots on it from past flood cleanups? It’s quite a piece of art.

    Oh … GOOD LUCK, my friend.
    Our state is in for a heck of a cleanup, and there are lots of broken hearts.
    Tomorrow daughter Anne and I will be joining a group of church friends in helping cleanup at badly flooded homes. Irene was a bitch.


  23. August 30, 2011 7:30 pm

    Oh Deborah,
    I am so glad you are ok, but sure wish you didn’t have the ocean front property, and a flooded home. I prayed and prayed for all of you up there, and am so thankful that it wasn’t much worse. Cass sounds like she has some good advice. Praying it all goes well for you.

    Hugs and prayers, sweetie,

  24. August 30, 2011 8:13 pm

    Oh… wow…. what a mess.

    Will continue to think of you and all those affected. It angered me to hear new reports saying that this storm coverage was overblown. How can that even be said when so many have lost their lives?

    Take good care.

  25. August 30, 2011 11:03 pm

    Looks like Scout is teaching us all a lesson in lemons to lemonade….! I can’t imagine what everyone is going through…sigh. The devastation brings to mind that song….”He gives beauty for ashes, strength for fear….gladness for mourning, peace for despair”.

    God Bless you Deborah. Hang in there.

    Huggs, Margo

  26. September 1, 2011 7:02 am

    SO glad you didn’t suffer too terribly – although what you did have doesn’t sound pleasant at all. Scout is adorable. Enjoy your seaside cottage for a while. You are indeed blessed.

  27. September 2, 2011 8:42 am

    Hi Deborah – I’ve been quiet due to a hectic work schedule, not because I haven’t been thinking of you (or reading your posts . . . I get them on my phone but wait to comment until I can be on my home computer). I’m so glad to hear that you guys are okay and safe. As I listened to reports on the news in my car, I thought of you and prayed for your warmth and safety. Wow! I cannot believe how much water you had!!! cute picture of Scout. 🙂 Hope all is well.

  28. September 3, 2011 5:35 pm

    Wow, Irene surely left quite a mess to clean up. We had a couple of downed trees, but no beachfront property. Hope that everything cleans up well and that it feels like a bad dream soon.


  29. September 7, 2011 7:52 pm

    I’m a bit late in wishing you well during the storm…..well maybe more then a bit late….between the move…the broken foot and the daughter who has decided to move back to NYC this family is behind on everything…..please forgive me for being such an awful blogging friend…..happy to hear you didn’t suffer from too much damage….
    We are only glad that we didn’t move to LBI …we would have been there three weeks and would have had to move 5 cars and 2 motorcycles……the Boss would not have been happy……

  30. Laura @ the shorehouse permalink
    September 8, 2011 12:11 am

    ACCKKKKKK!!! This is not the way I like to see any of my friends land themselves beach front property.

    I’m so sorry I missed all of this. I hope you’re doing better and that you’re getting through this week (and the continuing rain) OK, and hope your beautiful home is drying out.

    I have to admit…I can’t get enough of that shot of Scout! We took Maggie to the beach after the storm and she was the only one smiling. 🙂

    Be well, dear Deborah!
    Laura xo

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