My name is Maddie Maffia, and I am a Sophomore at Oregon State University studying Environmental Science. This summer I have the privilege of interning in my hometown, Santa Rosa. I help The Climate Center with communications. I chose the Center because I admire its work spreading awareness and preserving the climate for generations to enjoy. I hope my involvement with the Center will better my education and understanding of the growing issues that surround us.
As mentioned in a previous blog, Board President Jane Bender along with others have been collecting personal stories related to climate impacts. The intent of the stories is to support California Senator Dianne Feinstein to advance climate policies. She uses people’s personal stories for her speeches on the Senate floor and elsewhere.
Here is a story from my family. We own a small house in Santa Rosa’s historic district near the beautiful McDonald mansion. Up until this past winter, our house stayed dry even during the rainy season. But this last winter was an exception. Heavy rains made news as dams cracked, water levels rose, mini-lakes formed, mudslides closed roads, and flooding was everywhere, including at my childhood home.
My family has relied on a big water pump that takes excess rain from our backyard and carport and puts it in the street. The pump has worked well in years past. But this year’s rainfall pushed our pump to its limit and beyond. The water below our house rose so much that the crawlspace under our house flooded, and in turn caused flooding in the whole bottom portion of our house. The amount of water in the garage pouring into the house made it necessary to bring in two additional pumps to evacuate water under our house.
For hours my sister attempted to fix the situation by sweeping the water out of the garage, down the carport, and into the street, only for the rains to replace it. On three separate occurrences, my sister pumped three feet of water under our house. The person living in the garage portion of our home awakened to find all of his belongings soaked by a two-inch deep puddle completely covering the carpet. Many of our neighbors had similar experiences.
The amount of items that we threw away and money we spent fixing the carpet was absurd. We replaced the carpet after the first flood assuming it would be a one-time thing. By the second incidence, my family decided to wait, see what the total damage was, and fix it when the dry season came.
Thankfully our house didn’t have rotting or molding due to my family’ swift response to the flooding. I can only imagine the devastation experienced by others who didn’t have access to water pumps.
The change in rainfall this last year didn’t follow average weather patterns, and reveals that climate change is a real issue that directly affects our lives. My family is now clear that we need to act collectively at a larger scale to protect our climate.