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Hurricane Sandy: We’re doooooomed!

Update: Good news, bad news.  Thanks to reader DM, I was able to locate a plumbing supply store that is selling generators.  They are making a trip to another state to pick them up on Monday.  So, I reserved one.  The guy was nice enough to tell me how to check my sump pump so I should be prepared for Sandy.

The bad news is that the generator is going to cost me about $900 ($840.00 + 7% Sales tax) and will probably only be single use, not to say that I am not extremely grateful for a generator at all.  I am. And since all of the smaller generators in NJ are sold out, this is my next best option. But it’s a lot of money for me at a time when I can least afford it.  So, I’m tempted to put a donate button up for this and gently nudge people for a small contribution.  Recommended donation would be $10.30 for the date of Sandy’s landfall.  Does this sound unreasonable or greedy?

Here is the donation button for my “Save the Basement” fund:

Thank you for helping me weather Sandy!


So, it looks like I am right in Hurricane Sandy’s strike zone.  See picture below:

See where that first “S” is on shore?  (Since I first posted this, the S has moved and now my sister is going to get slammed.  Now that I look at the new map, I’m even more concerned because it looks like we’ll still have hurricane strength conditions well past landfall.) I live slightly to the right of that “S”, conveniently located between Philadelphia and New York.  Isn’t that cool?

No, it is not cool.  I lived through Irene last year.  Or, should I say, the basement lived through Irene last year.  The power went out and I was ankle deep in water at 6am.  Not fun, not fun at all.  It’s the only time in 12 years that I have ever had water in my basement.  Stupidly, I thought, it could never happen again.  What are the chances that there will be another Irene type storm two years in a row?  The basement is normally bone dry, I have two sump pumps.  I laughed at nature and, put off by the price gouging on generators and battery back up sump pumps and my own unemployment, I did not buy any additional prophylactic water removal systems.

More after the jump…

Yesterday, as it became clear that there were not one but two storm fronts about to combine over my head to become the storm of the century, aka “Frankenstorm”, I headed out to scour the local Lowes, Home Depot and Walmarts for a battery backup sump pump.  But New Jersey is the densest state in the union, in more ways than one, so all 20 zillion of us had the same thought but most of them had the same thought 8 hours earlier.  All the battery backup sump pumps were gone as soon as the doors opened yesterday.  There are lines, dear readers, for people who want to put their names on a waiting list for a generator.  Yes, you need to join a queue to get on a waiting list.  AND, the service people will tell you that when the truck comes in, you have to be physically in the store when your name is called.  If you’re not, the generator goes to some other poor schlub.

Why don’t you order online, you ask?  Because the battery backup sump pumps will be stuck in weekend limbo if you order them online.  None of them are guaranteed to get here before Tuesday.  Yes, I have already called to make sure.  That’s just the way these stores operate.  It doesn’t matter if there is a storm bearing down on 1/5th of the US population, this is not an emergency that requires Lowes, Home Depot or USPS to suspend their “partying for the weekend” rules.

Is there any way you can help?  Mebbe.  Do me a favor and check your local Lowes or Home Depot.  If there is a battery backup sump pump in your area, let me know immediately.  There may be a slight chance that I can pay for it and have Fed Ex ship it to me to get here on Monday.

Otherwise, I will take any suggestions you may have.  Like, has anyone used a manual pump?  Do bilge pumps work the same way?  How do you retrofit a battery backup bilge pump to act as a sump pump?  What else do I need to make my sump pump operate when the power goes out?  I have a backup battery that I use to jump my car but it’s DC.  That means I need a converter.  Does anyone have any suggestions on which converter I need for a sump pump?

The good news is that it’s relatively warm here and I have gas heat so I don’t think we’ll freeze.  But in the event that it does get cold, we have a fireplace.  And although there is no bottled water left, we can fill up containers, so that’s not a tragedy. Plus, I have a bajillion boxes of UHT milk and propane stove/grills. (Note to self: grind some coffee beans today.)  But the basement?  Yeah, that’s going to be a problem.  We are expecting a foot of rain.  I will be emptying my basement tomorrow afternoon.  There’s a ton of crap down there that has to come up.  What can’t come up will go on concrete blocks and we’ll just have to hope for the best.

20 Responses

  1. Hoping for the best for you and your neighbors!

  2. Welcome from north Jersey. The local Home Depot here has only electric sump pumps. No generators (of course) and no gasoline cans either if you have a generator. Fortunately we got a generator after Irene at Costco. You might try giving them a call. Unfortunately, Irene dumped a foot of water into the first floor (there are no basements here) and some of the neighbors got four feet of water. $60,000 worth of damages, a year spent wrestling with the insurance and the contractors and here we go again.

    Our backup plan is to leave with the dog and wait the storm out where it does less damage. It looks like we would have to go to Tennessee to get good weather and Nashville is 875 miles away. Fuhgetaboutit! So we have motel reservations in Winchester, VA only about 300 or 320 miles away. We may or may not go depending on later forecasts.

    The generator will keep up the water (we have a well), the heat, and power for two rooms and the microwave and fridge.

    What Governor Kramden and Company fail to figure out is that they are not saving money by ignoring the problem and giving tax breaks to millionaIres and corporations like the big pharmas, Lucent, etc. All the former Jersey employers that have been scammed and financed out of existence. Hum in ah hum in a, Gov. Christie/Kramden. Campaign in North Carolina for Republicans instead of taking care of business

    Maybe Sandy will strike further north to Long Island or New England. Maybe. Rain and wind will come for sure. Governor Jerk is meanwhile preparing for damage to Cape May and Wildwood. I guess his notion of flood preparation really does not extend beyond get off the bleeping beach.

    Good luck, RD.

  3. Head over to a local boat sales store see if they have 12 volt electric bilge pumps for small boats. Then stop by Autozone or Advanceauto or what ever autoparts store for a 12 volt deep cycle marine battery. Stop by the local big box mart for a small battery charger that can do deep cycle batteries. Hope this helps.

    OK did some looking some Wal-marts stock bilge pumps for less than $30. They might have the deep cycle batteries and charger too. Yeah, I know good little Dems ain’t supposed to do Wal-mart but it’s your home.

  4. Can you give the Lowes or Home Depot item so I can check? I live in the SF Bay Area

    • Never mind. None of the stores nearby carry it battery sump pumps. I would have to order. By the time I got it, you wouldn’t need it.

  5. Good luck RD. I hope you get your sump pump from the waiting list.

  6. RD, it might be more expensive, but I googled for your area and found this, but not cheap:

    In the Greater Princeton area, basement flooding from groundwater is a common occurrence. Sump pumps can be a lifesaver, or should we say a home saver. Plus, you should always have a battery back up sump pump in the event you lose power during a storm. Redding’s expert plumbers have installed thousands of sump pumps through the years and can easily diagnose and make recommendations based on your individual situation. Whether you just bought a new home and suspect water problems or if your current pump is aging, don’t wait until the next storm to properly protect your basement. Redding’s experts sell and install sump pumps, as well as battery back up sump pumps, so you know your home is protected no matter what Mother Nature throws at you. Call 609-924-0166 or visit http://www.reddings.com/products_generators.php today.

  7. Twice my comments didn’t go trough. I’m gonna try a shorter version:

    Redding’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning
    234 Nassau Street Princeton NJ 08540

  8. RD:
    Stay safe.
    Hopefully you all miss some of the worst.

  9. I’m always looking to donate to a good cause. Good luck with Hurricane Sandy.

  10. Thinking of you RD. Has my fingers crossed.

  11. Happy to donate, it’s not unreasonable or selfish, in the least. Stay safe and thank you for this lsland of sanity in a sea of cognitive dissonance.

  12. Thank you all who are easing the pain of that generator bite. It means a lot to me.

  13. I have one sister in Philly and one in S.Orange; they and their families will be safe but, here’s hoping that Sandy-nice non gendered name-turns to the Atlantic and stays there.
    Best to all.

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