there is water running down our street.

when brian and i bought our house in may of 2004, we had a healthy fear of being homeowners, being responsible for an entire, free-standing building with electric, water, sewer and other utilities that were to become OURS. or maybe the fear wasn’t healthy enough. for the past almost 12 years, we have avoided any of the emergencies that we have been afraid of: fire, exploding water heater with lots of water damage, sewer back-ups, freezing or breaking pipes with lots of water damage, and i don’t know what other nightmares danced in our brains when we would contemplate home ownership in the deep dark of the early morning hours. we have had some big things come up like a roof  being replaced, and a bathroom and kitchen being redone, but nothing emergent–nothing completely out of our control. i think we were kind of lulled into a false state of homeowner’s bliss. but this week, we have been properly disillusioned, and it’s possible that we may have truly reached home ownership maturity. this week the water line to our house broke.

sunday morning before church there was  a noise–under the house? out in the street? under someone else’s house?–and the floor in the living room vibrated a little bit. the kids were alarmed. i was sure there was work being done outside somewhere on our street and it was probably nothing to be worried about. until i went in the kitchen to rinse out the smoothie-splattered vitamix carafe. the water didn’t turn on. hmmmm, so maybe the noise was from under our house. nah. probably the water company doing work somewhere in our neighborhood. it’ll be back on by the time we get home from church.

i was soon to learn that any work that involved the water authority is very unlikely to be done on a sunday morning, or maybe at all. but i digress. sunday was a mess of waiting around… for plumbers to diagnose the problem. unfortunately when the plumber who responded to our urgent call went to the basement to see if the problem was at the point where city water comes into the house, he was almost electrocuted because of a faulty neutral electrical line coming into the house.

so sunday became waiting around for duquesne light, our electric company to come fix it. thankfully, DL responded promptly, and the electrician not only fixed the neutral line, but all lines going into our house since they were being held together with electrical tape. (they had been like this for almost 12 years or longer?!?) that done, the plumber returned and tried to find the valve box where you can turn off the water coming in from the city at the street.  the water needed to be turned off in the street so that he could open the pipe in our house to see if it was blocked. if the water wasn’t turned off, it would just spray in all over our basement. well, the valve box was not to be found. and here is when we started to deal with Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

so sunday became a day of waiting for PWSA. and monday, and tues, and wednesday, and thursday, and today….. don’t get me wrong. they came. not sunday, but they have been at our house every day this week. they have come long enough to mark where the valve box should be one day. they came another day to fine find the valve box and dig it up. and the other days have been a fiasco of them trying to turn the water off. thursday morning the water started to pour out of the sidewalk and down the street. and so it still is, more than 24 hours later. dom costa (our PA representative)’s office has become a liason for us. and our plumber has a friend at PWSA who is trying to find out their plan.

there is still water running down our street.

meanwhile, i can’t really complain. i mean, i guess i am complaining a little bit. i’m not at home, and i’d really like to be. we are staying at my parents’ house, and while this is the most comfortable place to be if we can’t be in our own home, it is not our own home so we’re not sleeping really well. we’re all feeling a little edgy and frantic. how long can this go on? til a warm day?

and then today i read on the news about a water main break in a different part of the city. cars are under water. there is a big sink hole. hundreds of people are without water too. and maybe tomorrow and who knows for how long. so if that’s where PWSA is right now, if all their workers are trying to put a lid on that problem, i think i can convince myself it’s okay to wait. i can hang out here at my parents’ house for a while longer. and pray that those hundreds of people who are also without water have somewhere just as lovely to go to wait until their water gets turned back on.

yes, there is water running down our street, but i’ll just sit around here, warm and dry as the snow begins to fall, and be thankful that i’m not stranded out in the cold. and that there are three toilets close by that flush at the mere touch of a handle.