Damage Control

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Sometimes I wonder what the bloody point is? I mean, c’mon, it seems like I’ve been in damage control for over a year now. The latest freakin’ shocker was caused by a burst water main at Powell and Main on the night of November 1st.

Like a mini tsunami, the water rushed down Powell and Main streets heading for the low ground, as water always will. The water coming down Powell took a hard right on Columbia, and rushed down to Alexander St. The water coming down Main hung a left on Alexander and rushed down the street and railway tracks.

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Predictably, the two rivers met at Columbia and Alexander, and settled in the dip in the street in front of my place. Yes, it appears I have the distinction of living in the lowest point in Gastown…

So there I was, chilling out after an extra long day of meetings and work deadlines. I had finally kicked back at about 8pm with a brewskie, but no sooner had I taken a sip, I heard voices, oohs and aaahs, and the unmistakable trill of my neighbour repeating over and over, “Oh my fucking god.”

Of course, I ignored it at first. There always seems to be some commotion on Alexander Street these days, and I just wasn’t up for grabbing a hockey stick and venturing out to face yet another irate gangbanger or crackpot who has swan-dived off a nearby rooftop (which happened in September, btw). But after about 10 minutes the street noise had only grown in volume, so I poked my head out the window to see what all the fuss was about.

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For a second, I thought I was back in Venice, it looked so beautiful. Of course, when I looked down and saw the water lapping at the side of our building, my thoughts took a turn for the worse. I went downstairs, only to be greeted by water pouring under my front door, making a beeline for my basement. I heard rushing water below, so I headed down, only to find that the air vent was acting like a sewage pipe, and the water on the railway tracks, maybe 4 feet deep, was pouring in. FUCK!!!

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I managed to stuff some towels into the pipe to stop the water, then went upstairs and tried to block the water coming through the front door. It was no use though, the water was too high. It being fall, the storm drains were all blocked with leaves thanks to the lack of City maintenance. The water wasn’t draining, but rising.

So I went out and watched the scene, resigned to yet another water-related disaster, the 3rd time in 7 years Alexander Street has been flooded, and all the local basements ripped apart and rebuilt. Needless to say, our insurance has tripled over this time.

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Well, we all gathered in the suite with the most alcohol in stock, and drank wine late into the night, cursing the City, which will, once again, hide behind the Charter and claim no responsibility whatsoever. While the police were suggesting we pack up and prepare to spend the night in a hotel, the City’s Risk Management guy finally showed up about an hour and half into the flood. He was all pissy, having to leave the Canucks game early, and told us he wanted to go because his friend was waiting for him in the car. What the Fuck? He refused to approve hotel rooms for us, and was pretty much the most useless person imaginable to have around in a crisis. No doubt he makes a ton of money, though. My guess is he knows all about “sustainability”, which is the only reason he got hired. Needless to say, at one point, one of my more surly neighbours was ready to take his head off after his whining and “oh, poor me, this ruined my night out” winge-fest.

In contrast, the police were top notch, and one of the female officers took charge of the scene, making our Risk Management boy-toy look like a wilted flower under the pressure. The Waterworks guys were also awesome, and had no problem using their truck to pump water out of our basement once the storm drain was cleared. At 4am, they announced that their truck was full, and that they had pumped 63,000 litres of water from our building’s basement. Yes, that’s right, 63 THOUSAND litres! Did I mention that the City takes absolutely no responsibility whatsoever for this type of thing?! Total fuckers.

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Today it’s November 10th, and the drywall and stuff from my basement has finally all been ripped out. I can see through to my neighbour’s suites on both sides now — not exactly private. I am, admittedly, near the end of my rope, and thinking once again of bailing out of Gastown. Citizens are supposed to have the right to privacy, comfort and peaceful living conditions, but this neighbourhood is a non-stop gong-show, and the stress, worry, and financial drain has pretty much left me without the wherewithal to stick it out here any longer.

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I used to think that I was the only ghost left in this part of town, but now I’m starting to think old RH Alexander, who the street out front is named after, has been secretly messing with things all these years. Must be still holding a grudge that he never got to be Mayor. If I see him, I’ll be sure to give him a good dose of gassy….

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2 responses to “Damage Control

  1. Sucks to be you.
    But you write about it so entertainingly – a real page turner.

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