We had a storm recently and the power went off. We had been told it was coming so when the power went off, we were not surprised-not prepared, but not surprised.
It was a windstorm. I’m not very fond of windstorms. I’ve lived in places where the wind would blow all the time. It gets on your nerves when it blows all the time. You pretend it doesn’t bother you, but it does. And sometimes the wind howls and moans and races across the valley before it hits your house and you think the roof is lifting off.
This wind was like that-or so my neighbor said. Her house is sitting higher than mine and is more exposed. She stayed awake and feared this wind-like I used to do when I lived in exposed houses. This time I slept.
In the morning the power was still off. And it was kind of an adventure. A little scary as people tried to call others and learned that some land phones worked and some did not; some cell phones worked and some did not. And then as it got light I surveyed the damage. Many branches down. Enough to build a good size tree. My house was ok. But what about everyone else?
That made it hard. I couldn’t watch TV or listen to the radio. I couldn’t find out what had happened elsewhere. A helicopter hovered overhead for quite some time before slowly moving on. Wearing only my nightgown I watched it from my front step. As it flew over I noticed a neighbor also watching it-also wearing her nightgown. I heard that radio stations were advising people where they could still get gas-and that there was mass confusion. Attempts to (unsuccessfully) track down shelters where faithfully reported. People called in suggesting ways to keep exotic pets warm.
When it was again dark, a neighbor invited me to share their fireplace. It was a welcome break.
It wasn’t until the following morning that I walked to the next block and saw that a neighbor’s tree had fallen. It lay parallel to the road and beside the house. A large section of sidewalk and driveway were raised and broken into 3 large pieces; I could look down into the hole where the roots had been; a broken cable wound through the roots.
That night it got cold. I slept in my thermal underwear, lined jeans, 2 sweatshirts, a vest, a hat, and socks. Even under layers of blankets I was cold. The next day I accepted my daughter’s invitation to go to her house. There I slept in a bunk bed and was finally able to get warm. My ferret stayed in her guest bathroom. The ferret had been even colder than I.
The following night, late, when I checked my answering machine, I heard my message. The next morning I went home. My grandson, upset that I had left while he was asleep, told me “don’t ever leave without telling me again!”
My son was without power 24 hours, my daughter, 48; I went 96 hours without. Four houses across the street were dark for 8 days. Now, 13 days later, “all but a hand-full have their power restored.”
Most of us lost the contents of our refrigerators and freezers. For some of us that “clean-out” was long overdue. No more trying to read by candlelight. Many businesses that never close, did. Eleven people lost their lives due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Neighbors came together and checked on each other. Committees are being formed to “learn how we can react better in the future.” People knew (government did not) that checking on-line for emergency information doesn’t work when there is no power.
Now, my freezer has 100 tea lite candles-ready for the next “storm of the century”. I still carry a flashlight in my pocket
And now, because that is the way things work, there is a contest to “name the storm.”