IMG_5367.JPGI live in the Boston area, and you probably have heard (or, if you’re here, are living) the fact that we’ve had massive amounts of rain the past 2 weeks.  “The 50-year storms,” they’re dubbed, referring to the fact that the last time such water fell from the sky around here was in the mid-1950s. 

For many of us, the rain has meant water in the basement–even in basements that have not seen water for decades.  Our old condo, we learned, had 4 inches of standing agua in the basement–nothing like what we ever experienced in our nearly 10 years there.  And in our “new” house, despite a sump pump the previous owners thoughtfully installed, we’ve had the wet stuff in our basement as well, gurgling through an access drain cover (see photo) as well as through every crack in our floor and foundation.

There’s lots to do when something like that happens–get the dehumidifier and wet vac going, rotate towels from the floor through the dryer, move any furniture or cloth that’s on or near the floor, etc.  But there’s also a lot of thinking that happens in any catastrophe, big or small.

So in the spirit of “positive re-frames,” the technique I used to keep me sane(ish) during our move last summer, here are 2 typical negative thoughts and events that creep in when you get a flooded basement, and some ways to turn your thinking around and get back to the problem-solving part of the process.

Negative: The Water Takes Things Away: We lost things in the flood–an area rug plus the lovely light-wood laminate floor that was on the finished side of the basement.

Positive Re-Frame: We Can Better Value What We Have:  We were very, very lucky, luckier in fact than several of our neighbors.  One had 2 feet of water in her basement, and another brought in a dumpster to dispose of all the damaged stuff.  So first and foremost, gratitude is the positive re-frame.  But the other positive spin is to think of the cleanup as a clutter-clearing exercise (spring cleaning, anyone?), a moment to re-evaluate what you have stored, how you’re protecting it, and whether you really need it.  Note: If you haven’t had a recent basement flood, take this opportunity to assess your protection factor on items like photo albums, heirloom holiday decorations, and other special things.  Are they at a safe height?  

Negative: We Have No Control: Nature is angry/out-of-control/beyond the folly of our attempts to tame it.  Storms are getting bigger and more frequent, and “extreme” seems to define every season these days. 

Positive Re-Frame: We Can Surrender to Nature:  Nature might be angry, but it’s also kind of magical.  “Bless the water,” said a spiritually-minded colleague when I was griping about the flood.  Those words stayed with me as I marveled at the ability of water to find its way back to where it belongs–our nearby pond, the air, our garden soil–even if that way leads through our basement.  I have a special relationship with water (see my “toxic thoughts are water soluble” musings), so I like the image of clear, flowing movement.  I’ll just get out of the way and let it do its thing, and clean up whatever it leaves behind.

To me, these are the two basement biggies–loss and nature overwhelm.  Are there others?  How do you calm yourself on the emotional side, freeing yourself to deal with the practicalities of a flood, during and after?

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