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I've Got a Sinking Feeling

Tuesday night we got a great rain.  It started raining in the early evening and came down pretty hard for quite awhile and then rained all night.  I had no idea how much it was raining, so I was surprised the next day when I heard different amounts ranging from 96 mm to 120 mm.  For those of you who don't know millimeters, it was around 4 inches of rain in a 12-hour period.

The poor kitty was so stressed.  She kept yowling and then she would follow me everywhere.  I kept going to the kitchen to check that rain wasn't coming in under the kitchen door.  We've had the house flood before during big rains, so I was a bit worried about that.  I could see the water just at the level of the door, but it never really came in.  I also noticed a terrible sewer smell in the house and when I went to use the toilet there was, well, let's just say stuff in the toilet that shouldn't have been there.  When I flushed, it almost didn't go down and later when the rain let up a bit, I could hear the toilet making blub, blub, blub sounds.  

I had a feeling something wasn't right with the septic, so when the guard came to my door and said, "Kaa ka di mota"; "Come and see the car", I definitely had a sinking feeling.  And the car had a sinking feeling, too, quite literally.  

I was really afraid the septic tank had collapsed and had no idea how we would get the car out.  It looked much worse at 6 a.m. when it was still dark than it did at 7 a.m. when I could actually see it.  Oh, and I should mention that John wasn't back from the UK yet, so all of this was mine to deal with!

I sent John a message with a picture of the car and also sent a message and picture to our mission director, who is not only our director, but a good friend.  Once I knew he'd be available I called the contractor who had installed the septic system.  When I tried to describe what had happened, his first reaction was, "Oh, it will be ok, it's just because I got so much rain."  I said, "No, you don't understand.  Something is wrong with the septic and it made a big hole and the car is in the hole."  (Speaking in French is hard enough; doing it on the phone is especially problematic!)  He said he'd be right over.

You can see how high the water and mud had gone.

Soon he arrived with another man.  They were a little surprised to say the least, but figured out right away that everything was ok with the septic system.  The place we park the car is actually between the septic tank and the dry well or seep away (don't ask me to explain the technicalities of a septic system!).  Because the seep away is new, the dirt around it was not packed down well.  The immensity of the amount of rain we got meant that the run off looked for the best place to go and that was into that loose dirt and into the seep-away.  As it went into the seep-away, it sucked the dirt in with it.  As it sucked the dirt in, it created a sink hole and that is where our car ended up.  All this disturbance caused the bad odor that was coming up the toilet.

The neighbor's car was unscathed.

The contractor and his friend dug out around the car a bit and they tried to push the car while I drove it out.  But the wheels were in too much mud and there was no traction.  They tried putting some things under the tires for traction,but we still couldn't get it out.  We decided to find another vehicle to come to pull my car out.  I called our director; his tow rope was in the vehicle his wife was driving so first he had to go get the tow rope.

When he came he said it looked worse than what it looked in the picture I sent him!  They got the car tied up to his vehicle, then he pulled, I accelerated our car just a little, and the other two men lifted and pushed at the same time.  My car stalled which jerked Steve's vehicle to a stop.  I got my car started up and we tried again, this time successfully!

Later that day the contractor came with a big load of dirt and filled in the hole.  You'd never know now that anything had happened.  Personally, I'm hoping there will not be a repeat performance!

Meanwhile, this seems piddly when others had their houses flooded.  A lady I work with told me that a child in their extended family was killed when a wall next to the shelter in which he was sleeping collapsed.  I heard that nine people in Niamey were killed in that storm, mostly from adobe walls that melted falling on them.  We need the rain, but hopefully not so much at a time!


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