One morning I woke up early as usual, the pre-dawn light barely reaching my still-sleepy eyes. I had a big meeting that day with a client who had flown cross-country just to meet with me. It was an important meeting and I needed to get to the office early to prepare. Rising from my bed I splashed across the bedroom carpet.
My carpet, it turns out, was rather wet. Slowly the sound of water gurgling from the bathroom reached my ears. Rushing the handful of steps I see the flood rising from the top tank of the porcelain appliance. A turn of the valve stopped the flow but apparently it had been running all night and the damage was done. The bathroom floor was a pool, the upstairs carpet was saturated, the lights ominously sizzled steam as the damp bulbs evaporated with the heat of the light.
But that was nothing compared to the waterfall pouring from my chandelier a floor down. The carpet here was saturated as well. Afraid of what I would see, I waded down the stairs to the lowest level where once again steam rose from the overhead light as soon as I turned it on. Whereas the ornate design of the second floor chandelier provided an Iguazu Falls complexity, this lower waterfall was more like Yosemite falls in flood season, hosing directly onto a folding table I had set up to store my research papers in stacks. Except now they resembled mush, or perhaps congee, seeping over the edges as they pulped into oblivion.
I stood in horror at the scene, then nearly shrieked when I realized my book collection lined the walls in that very room. Glancing around my mind slowly recovered its balance; the overhead light had miraculously directed its fury into the center of the room. My books would survive.
Needless to say, I never made it to the office that day. I called one of my colleagues to take my place with the client, then called my insurance company to ask them if they had any ideas what I should do with my house of waterfalls. Within hours an emergency service arrived, ripped up my carpet, broke through ceilings to expose the inner beams, installed a dozen (yes, a dozen) filing cabinet-sized dehumidifiers and power fans around my house, and left me to the mind-numbing noise of drying out for a week. Eventually the water subsided, the carpets were relaid, and my hearing returned. But I’ll never forget the flood.
David J. Kent is a science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, in Barnes and Noble stores now. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.
Photo Credit: Unidentified from Pinterest.