This was our basement, as we found it on July 25, 2006. As I wrote in my article "Water Loves Basements"...
It was a clear, sunny day and after I came home from work, we ate dinner. In our house, the washer and dryer were in the basement, so I was used to the sound of water running in the basement while we were doing laundry, so when I heard that noise while we were eating I didn't think anything of it. After dinner, we went to a nearby park and went for a walk for an hour or two.
Returning home, the moment we opened the door we realized that something was wrong. There was the distinct, familiar smell of dampness in the house, along with the now louder sound of the rushing water. I quickly went down the stairs and saw to my horror that water was spraying out from a hole in the rubber hose connected to the washing machine. It wasn't a small stream of spray either, it was spraying wide into the basement in all directions and with great force. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
Quickly I shut off the water to the hose, but by then gallons of water had drenched most of the basement. The new sump pump did its job by keeping the basement from filling up, so the damage was limited to the area directly in front of the washer. Unfortunately, this area was my main work area, which consisted of two desks with all my mail art supplies, unanswered mail, collage materials, my mail archive, my iMac for logging in my mail art, my printer/scanner for making color copies and the television I used to watch while I answered mail. Behind the desks was the work table where I made collage paintings, my drafting table and on the shelves behind that was a library of books I use while working. Everything was soaked. Fortunately I had protected my paintings in bags so they weren't damaged.
I lost the printer/scanner and the computer, and most of the mail was soaked beyond recognition. Fortunately the TV was fine and my mail archive was a little wet but not badly soaked. The hole in the hose was only about 1/8", but that was enough for a lot of water to come out. Our plumber said it was a good thing it wasn't the hot water line, because that's much worse... steaming hot water which ruins everything it touches. He replaced our rubber hoses with stainless steel ones, something I never knew was needed.
So, I had all this water-soaked mail. In an effort to save some of it, I spread it all out on some tablecloths in our living room and let it dry for several days. This occurred shortly after I was getting overwhelmed with work, we were listing our house for sale, I started having health issues related to sitting at a desk all day, and Mary started experiencing the first symptoms of what would turn out to be Crohn's Disease, so mail art was suddenly very difficult for me to answer. This was like a coup de gras for my mail art participation, something I didn't think I could recover from.
Finally, a few weeks ago, I started to have a little free time, so I decided to do something with all this mail. I started cutting it up and making a giant collage out of it, with the goal of cutting it up into postcard size pieces and sending it out, hopefully to some of the people who had originally sent it to me in the first place.
The collage has no substrait, meaning it's not mounted on a board or canvas, it's made of the paper and only of the paper. Here's a slideshow of the collage in progress. It's only flood-damaged paper, acrylic medium, tape and some acrylic paint to tint it.