Weather puts writer on hot asphalt roof
I THINK THE weirdest thing about the recent horrible weather we've been going through on the windward side of the island was having KHON news anchor Leslie Wilcox on my roof, talking about our kids.
I've known Leslie for many years and we often catch up on family matters when we get together, but this was the first time we did it on the roof of a house. What caused her to be on my roof is a story that one day will be amusing but hasn't quite gotten there yet. I will say that I was a gentleman and let Leslie stand in the shadow of a fireplace flue, ironically the coolest place on the flat roof on a sunny day when we both were barefoot.
I'm hoping this will be the last installment of what has become a series of columns documenting the Winter of 2005-06 because, frankly, I'm sick of writing about it. Actually, I'm sick of weather, period. But just to finish the saga, I'll take you back a few months, when we spent several thousand dollars having a state-of-the-art rain gutter system installed on our house. Then the first rain storms hit and I realized that gutters, even state-of-the-art ones, only work if you've cleared the leaves out of them.
IT WAS PRETTY shocking to suddenly find the house being flooded at 3 o'clock in the morning. Two sump pumps came on under the house, which was great until one of them broke. Then I lowered a hot tub pump behind the house in the dark and started that pumping. In the meantime, there were 13 leaks coming into the living room and a pantry was flooded and the sun hadn't even come up yet.
That storm had barely left us when another began moving in. I bought two new heavy-duty sump pumps and installed them. Then I taped up the roof skylights, which seemed to be the source of the ceiling leaks. Then the rain hit. And kept hitting for about 12 hours. At 1 a.m. I made a final inspection. The living room was dry, there was not much flooding in the garage and the pumps were working, so I climbed into bed, content that we had this rain problem licked.
The next morning I took inventory again: no leaks, no flooding, pumps working ... WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?! "That" was my neighbor's hillside, which had slid down into the back of my house overnight, dragging along trees and mud and stopping just 4 feet from my daughter's bedroom.
The next day my wife and I were on the roof with two chainsaws cutting away all the limbs from the trees that had advanced on the house like the forest of Birnam in Macbeth. There wasn't anything we could do about the tons of rock and mud that had slid down but, as history teaches us, making sure the rain gutters are free of leaves, twigs and trees is very important.
Miraculously, there was no major damage to the house and discussions continue with adjacent property owners in an effort to get them to take their land off of my land. Considering the destruction that took place just up the road in Kaaawa and Kahaluu -- yards washed away, houses awash -- we were lucky.
It was then that Leslie Wilcox and her cameraman dropped by to do a story for the nightly news, something to the effect that you can buy new gutters and pumps and tape up your skylights but you don't really think about landslides until they are almost in your living room.
Leslie and I sort of hopped from one foot to the other on the hot asphalt roof while her cameraman shot pictures of the slide. Then I took pictures with my Sony camcorder of the cameraman taking pictures of Leslie doing her stand-up on my roof and it was all very weird. I think I can safely say that we've all had it with this weather. And as much as I like Leslie, I don't want any more TV news reporters on my roof for a good long while.
, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org