It has been years since I played in the rain. Though this outdoor rain event began in panic and desperation to stop flooding into our warehouse (with $250,000 of flags and related inventory) it ended in carefree, childlike FUN.
In 1990, FAB had outgrown its current facility on Main Street in North Little Rock, Arkansas. And so, for a mere $20,000 (borrowed from my Dad), I purchased the historic building, known as the Taborian Hall, for our new home. That price tag eludes to the shape in which this old, abandoned, red-brick-shell of a building was in. Terrible. It also eludes to the condition of the Ninth Street neighborhood where the beautiful old building resided.
Decades prior to my buying the building, the whole of the neighborhood had fallen into disrepair. Left with no guardian and few occupants, the utility companies ran lines haphazardly and building codes were ignored.
During this time of decay a land and business owner, in an effort to save on new construction costs, used my building’s back wall as theirs and attached their cheap aluminum building to mine. This poor design created innumerable structural problems and eventually forced me to purchase that attached building so I could manage the maintenance.
But one design flaw and problem still exists in the aluminum addition. At the lowest point in the whole city block, for which I now own most of, opens a large overhead door. And we all know water runs down hill. The flash flooding that used to be an occasional occurrence, as described in my 2007 blog called Bucket Brigade where we formed a line and passed buckets of bailed water out the warehouse door, is now a monthly event.
In a show of acceptance and to alleviate the problem I’ve dug trenches, installed French drains, and built a variety of retaining walls. This summer, I tried a new arrangement of sandbags to funnel the water away from the door. But even that was not enough to stop Hurricane Laura.
When the Water Breached the Wall
Thankfully, Laura’s heaviest rain happened at 4 pm on a workday, so I was able to stand in the overhead doorway and watch as the water levels rose. Once the water breached the sandbags, I called for backup from the only people I felt comfortable with asking such a messy and unusual favor: family members.
With our raincoats on, son Matt and I trudged out into the downpour to move more sandbags into place. At first, we thought our raincoats would suffice as protection, but we were both soaked within minutes, and Matt, to save his shoes, was soon in his bare feet.
Within minutes, we were wading in ankle deep water and shouting at each other through a veil of water. The water was warm, the sandbags were dirty, and the work physical. An invigorating, childlike feeling swept over us both. What began as drudgery now seemed like carefree fun.
When it was all over, we reflected on the unexpected release of tension that came from working in a warm rain. We left work, headed for home and a hot bath, joyfully wet, satisfied with a job well done, and remembering why it was fun to play in a summer rain.
And yes, we saved the warehouse.