Friday, November 30, 2007

Enter Sandbag

This morning I had to undergo my annual ritual on short notice.

We bought our house about 11 years ago. It's a beautiful house, with a nice dining area, an excellent add-on family room, a yard for the doggie, and other amenities. Like all houses, it is not perfect, and the least perfect part about it is the driveway that slopes downhill...down to the garage door. If you're not familiar with the seasons in southern California, let me just note that this does not cause a problem in the summer. However, once we get the first big rain (an inch or more) in late fall or early winter, all that water running downhill likes to run into the garage, making things somewhat wet.

Pending a better drainage solution, the workaround has been to place sandbags in front of the garage door in the winter and get rid of them in the summer. The local fire station distributes empty sandbags, and you can get sand from one of several parks in Ontario. Sometimes I plan this pretty well and get things set up in advance of the need, but sometimes I don't do anything until the torrential downpour hits.

This year was one of the in-between times.

At around 5:30 this morning, as I was getting ready to wake up, my wife thought that she heard the pitter-patter of rain outside. "Rut roh," we both thought. However, inswtead of looking out the window, I stayed in bed, grabbed my Motorola Q, and went to the mobile Weather Underground site (at the URL). This site displays a radar map for the area around the zip code that you enter, and that told me all that I needed to know - green in my area, yellow west of my area. I went on down to the forecast and found the following:

Bands of scattered showers will continue to move NE at about 30 mph across Southern California through 10 am. Accumulations of less than one tenth of an inch of rain are expected through 9 am in most areas.

Good, no need to panic. But:

Heavier showers are expected later today.

Luckily, we didn't throw last year's sandbags away; we just stuck them on the side of the house. The bags themselves were all ripped up, but the sand could work in a jam. So I went into the garage to grab some of our spare sandbags, but couldn't find any. Off to the fire station to grab 15 empty sandbags, which I then opened so that I could throw the old sandbags into the new ones. It was raining a little more heavily by the time I returned from the fire station, but my shirt and hair are pretty much dry now (it's an hour and a half later) and I figure my socks will dry out eventually.

Yes, I know this is minor in the scheme of things, and certainly doesn't compare to people who lost their homes in the Corral Canyon fire, or in other disasters such as hurricanes or real floods. It's all just part of living at the bottom of a slope in southern California.

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