Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Storm to Remember

A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving we had a massive wind storm roll through the area we live. I sat in the house and watched the trees and looked at the forecast and thought "This is not so bad, its not nearly as windy as those high winds I lived through growing up in Wyoming." The winds were only around 75 mph. At one point in the afternoon I decided to go get some dishes done. It wasn't long into it that my husband came home from work early and just a few minutes after that the power went out. I can say I was expecting it. I had already started to think about where the flashlights were. It seems that where we live, if the wind blows some area of town will go down. I was figuring it was our turn sooner or later. 

All that day while the wind blew and I thought of the gigantic pine tree that is in my back yard. I really find it a scary thing, as even when the wind is not blowing it leans quite a bit to the side. At one point the middle of the windy afternoon I called the kids close and we said a very real prayer asking for our pine tree to stay standing. If it were ever to fall down it would take out at least one of the garages around us if not the back end of our house.

That night Hubby went out on foot to find us some dinner as I didn't want to prepare food in the dark. He went a few blocks north and walked through our neighborhood. When he got back he said it was crazy and it felt like the apocalypse. He said the air was filled with debris and there was no one around except a few other people on foot. He said he could barely see past the side walk because of all the dirt in the air and he was wearing a headlamp the whole time. He also reported that there were a lot of trees down blocking streets and smashing houses. That night we all slept in the living room by the fire to stay warm and in case the tree in our yard fell down on our house. It was the safest location for us.

The next morning we got dressed in warm clothes and packed a backpack with water and went out on foot to see the damage. We walked north to try to find a place with power to try to buy some breakfast. Hubby stayed home from work as without power we had no way to get into our garage. We ended up at a McDonald's but they were running on a generator. We saw all the trees down in the neighborhood and all of the smashed houses. It was also really amazing to see how many people were up and out clearing up the debris and cutting the trees to get them off of the houses that they fell onto so soon the next day.

It tuns our that 80% of our city was without power. There were more than 160,000 houses without heat. The wind brought with it below freezing temperatures for the fist time of the season. Outside the temperature kept dropping and inside the temperature kept dropping as well. 

We had acquired a stash of fire wood for the first time in the nearly 5 years we have lived here. We burned a fire in our fireplace non stop except at night when we went to sleep. It was still so cold in the house. I felt so grateful I choose to make (sometimes force) my kids to wear long johns and that we have them for times like this. Every day we would wake up and hope that that day would be the day that we would have our power restored. We heated up small rocks by the fire and put them in our pockets to warm our hands. We called it "hot rocks." It was a little bit of a scary game as the rocks got very hot and I was so nervous my kids would get burned on them. I had to do something as their little hands were red and swollen from the cold. 

We piled all of our lanterns and candles on the table. We piled blankets and blankets on the beds. They days were so long as I had much less to do with no chance to do laundry, or cook, or clean, or get on the internet.

We spent a lot of time sleeping on the couch, and snuggling. It is true what they say that in the cold your body slows down. All I did was wish for Hubby to come home from work so that I could talk to him about his day. I also looked out the window a lot.

I cooked a pizza in my fireplace as well as quesadillas. We heated hot water for cocoa and to do a few dishes. It was like we were camping in our living room.

Hot coals seemed hard to keep in the house. I kept thinking it would have been much easier to be camping for real.

At one point around the 4th day we got invited to a friends house to do some laundry and warm up as they had gotten their power restored. They also invited us to spend the night. I wanted too but Hubby didn't.  Once in a while I would have my friend take me back to the house to check on the dog and the chickens. At one point our house dropped down to 44 degrees inside. That was when I was able to convince hubby to stay somewhere else. I was feeling so tired and desperate by that time. Reports had started to come in that it could take up to another week for power to get restored to our house. I.  wanted to cry

The next day we went out to breakfast and then returned home to try to warm it back up. It took all day to raise the temperature back up to 54 degrees which is where it was when we left the day before. By the time we go it warmed it was 10:30 at night and we went to bed. I had taken the kids over to a different friends house that evening to warm them up, and those friends worked hard getting their generator up and running for us to take home. I went to bed that night feeling a little less miserable as we planned on plugging the generator in the next morning. 

Then at 5:30 AM Hubby nudged me and woke me up asking me if I heard "that" sound. It was the sound of our house turning back on. That was the best sound I had heard in such a long time. I remember feeling so happy and relieved that we could still have Thanksgiving. We went without power for 5 days. At first it was fun and mysterious but then it got long, and tiring. In the end I felt so exhausted as I had three little bodies to take care of and it was hard to do in an emergency situation. We learned a lot, and now know what it might feel like if the real apocalypse happens. Hopefully next time we will be better prepared.

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