Northeast Indiana was pummeled by a huge storm Friday afternoon. We’ve been having a drought (as have you, probably) and I love thunderstorms, so when the sky started darkening I was rooting for a doozy of a storm. Pounding rain, booming thunder, the works.
Note to self, don’t wish for big storms.
Our storm was such a doozy, it even has a name, one I’ve never heard of before, and I watch Storm Stories. It’s called a Derecho. 500 trees were toppled by the wind gusts, creating havoc and taking power lines down with them.
I was very fortunate. Only one small branch fell off my already dead tree. All around my neighborhood, trees and tree bits littered yards and streets. Even now, almost a week later, a downed tree tangled with wires is blocking the entrance to my street, not to mention someone’s house. Tree shrapnel is everywhere.
When the storm started up, I was at my desk in my office, and the lights started flickering. Uh oh. Flickering, followed by off. Klondike was in town, but not at the house, so Ruby and his two dogs and I sat in the dark and watched the storm through the front door. I wasn’t concerned about the power being out; it’s happened a couple of times before, and is usually back on in a matter of hours. I had no idea about the magnitude of the Derecho. (Cue ominous music.)
I was one of 119,000 people in the region who lost power. Um, that’s a lot. It suddenly became painfully obvious that the electricity wouldn’t be back on anytime soon. Crap. Oh, and did I mention it’s been in the upper 90s for the last eon? Initial estimates were that power would be restored BY WEDNESDAY. And there was no way of knowing whose power would be restored first. We all felt so….powerless.
I like to think I’m a somewhat capable person, who has my shit mildly together. One of the quickest ways to prove me wrong is to take away my electricity.
Two people. Three dogs. Very difficult to invite that kind of entourage into someone’s home.
My dad lives in a magical house that never loses power (please don’t let me jinx him) even in the wake of a Derecho or the crippling ice storm of 2008, even when neighbors all around him have no power. It’s kind of amazing. And it’s my haven in times of need. Fortunately, he has a spare fridge, too. We spent a good chunk of time there over the weekend, running home to check on the dogs and to sweat. Oops, I mean sleep.
I took cold showers, followed immediately by breaking into a sweat from the simple act of getting dressed.
I went to get ice to put in the dogs’ water bowls, forgetting that my freezer was empty.
Every. Single. Time that I walked into the bathroom I flipped the light switch. Stunningly, it never worked. After about the third time, I started doing a little song & dance that looked a wee bit like me stomping my feet and shaking my fists, and sounded kind of like me screaming, “The goddamn light switch doesn’t DO anythinggggg!!!!!!!!!”
Neighbors across the alley and next door got generators. The noise was astonishing. It sounded like there was a running lawn mower in my house.
By Sunday evening I was hot and crabby and hot and whiny and hot and tired of not being able to live comfortably in my own home. I was at the end of my rope, and entering the work week as someone who works from home presented a whole new kind of mess. Klondike and his dogs went home, and I set up camp at Hotel Dad.
Through some wonderful fortune, a text from a neighbor late Monday afternoon informed me that my porch lights were ON! I was giddy with electricity. And felt so, so sorry for those who didn’t win the power-up lottery. Even as I write this (Wednesday night), I still have friends in the dark, with no a/c, and it was 100 degrees today. I can’t imagine how frustrated (and hot) they must feel.
It’s amazing, the things we take for granted, and how uncomfortable it is when our daily routines are turned upside down and modern conveniences are suddenly unplugged. But equally amazing were the kindness and generosity of those who were in a position to help. As I mention on a regular basis, I am a Facebook junkie. And while running down my iPhone battery keeping tabs on Facebookland, I saw invitation after invitation from people who had power: beds, freezer space, laundry. It was truly moving, and felt very genuine.
- My refrigerator is GLEAMING. Before loading it back up, I scrubbed the hell out of it.
- My basement freezer was defrosted for the first time in two+ years. And I finally threw away those leftover buns from the cookout in 2010.
- I bonded with my friend and neighbor, Claire, who I really only knew through Facebook. She and her husband Ben kept me in the loop about the power situation after I fled to Hotel Dad. They were the ones who let me know when I could return home to a powered-up homestead. (Thanks, pals!)
That’s it, no more silver linings. Be real, those four days sucked. 😉
Of course, I recognize how easy my everyday life usually is, especially now that I can have perspective in the comfort of my air conditioned home. (I’m obsessed with a/c, aren’t I?) I’m so thankful that I had options, and for my family, friends and neighbors who checked in on me and made sure I wasn’t in need. While I prefer not to have to choose, I will take that kind of love and friendship over power any day. At the end of the day, even if the day was hot and I was crabby, I’m very, very lucky.
Oh sweet Jesus….a completely unexpected, bizarro thunderstorm popped up at the end of the day today and wreaked more havoc. More trees down, people without power again. I now have “loaner mayo” in my fridge from a friend who had JUST finished restocking from the first power outage, and she’s without again. I feel for you people, truly. Holler if you need something.