Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Next Chapter

A crazy winter with mulitple feet of snow and 8 snow EF3 tornado whirls through my neighborhood on 6/1...a microburst hits town on 7/27....a hurricane passes by in August with over 5 inches of rain....two weeks later more than 5 inches of rain comes down again.  Since June we have had some significant, freak weather event on just about a monthly basis.  Our little town has suffered so much damage, we are all starting to think we are being punished. Just when we think we are safe and clear of freak weather...the next event hits. Here I describe in detail for my family and remember the next chapter of this horrid year.

A new month....October.  Two days before Halloween on the 29th a snowstorm is predicted. A Nor'easter even.  What's the big deal, right? Certainly we can handle snow....although we are all curious to see how the weakened trees hold up to snow and ice. 

Ben's soccer team has a playoff game Saturday morning the 29th. His team finishes the game and unfortunately loses.  The air is cold...and the sky is dark. You could feel the impending storm.  The forecasters are predicting lots of snow. The amounts have ranged all over the place, but seem to be indicating 8-12 inches.

The snow started in the early afternoon. The kids have some of their buddies over to play. The kids all decided to go out and play in the snow and before I knew it I was suiting up 6 kids in pants, boots, gloves, hats. I see the first snowball fight of the season.   I'm happy the kids are excited to play outside but dreading the wet clothes and boots that are going to come back in the house. The snow is very wet and heavy.

I had made a batch of chili for dinner and we invited our friends over to join their kids in having dinner with us.  The power went out about 5 - 5:30 pm.  At that point, I just assumed a tree had downed some wires nearby and maybe we'd be out for a few hours.  Out came our familiar friends...candles and lanterns. We made the best of the time with our friends, enjoying some chili and wine by candlelight.

Our friends leave and we all head to bed in the darkness once again.  Before bed Chris is outside for some reason and claims to be hearing the nonstop cracking of trees. I didn't think much of it.

We awake to a winter wonderland.  The sun is beaming through the graveyard of trees in the backyard.  I look out front and see that my two knew baby trees have broken limbs. I look around the neighborhood and see all of the remaining shrubs are practically flattened to the ground from the weight of the snow.

We get the generator fired up and a fire in the fireplace.  I decided to make the best use of the time without internet and television and scour all the fronts of my kitchen cabinets all morning. I hear that there are lots of tree branches down and that many streets are blocked.  Later in the afternoon I walk with the kids down the street.  That's when I realized the extent of damage that the storm had left. Trees down, branches down, electrical lines down, electrical poles snapped.  Depression instantly set in. I knew we were in for at least a few days with no power. I knew every neighborhood in town was going to look as bad as ours. What I didn't know was that we would be without power for 8 long days.

We were back to the dreaded life without power. The generator kept our fridges cold and gave us lights and power to play movies on the PS3 (and coffee in the morning!).  We made lots of fires in the fireplace...although that only warmed up the living room a bit.  The house stayed in the 50's all week until about Thursday when our friends the G's asked their electrician friend to come over and get our generator hooked up to our house. After that time we had finally had heat and hot water.  But it was a long, long week.  Although we were to bed early and slept comfortably in the cold, my body ached from the mental and emotional stress of more damage to our neighborhood and to our town. We ate out for dinner a bunch of times because I was too tired to think about cooking and having to clean dishes in cold water.  There was a craze for finding available gas in the area, and an equally big craze for finding generators. One afternoon on the way to a friend's house I got the fingertips on my right hand squeezed in between two garage panels when I was closing it by hand.  This was one of the most painful things in my life other than childbirth....but luckily the only result was numbing and bruising under the nails.  My kids missed 5 days of school and it wasn't even winter.  And the kids were completely crushed that Halloween was cancelled. The streets were just too unsafe with the downed wires and branches.  I don't ever remember a time with no Halloween.  The whole storm just added to the depressing freakishness of 2011.

The effects of the prior storms have left Buddy a nervous wreck. Every time the generator would kick on and the television and PS3 would beep from power he would start shaking uncontrollably and jump at me or on the couch with the kids seeking comfort. He obviously associates the beeps from power shutting on and off with that dreaded tornado. And our 'no dogs on the couch' rule went out the window.  Buddy need comfort and warmth.

For whatever reason, our neighborhood was the last in town to get power...on Sunday at about 6 pm.  Thankfully I had been able to do laundry at friends' houses during the week.  The kids went back to school on Monday like nothing ever happened.  It was a week of completely lost time.  If there weren't piles of tree branches lining every street in town I'd swear there was a time warp.  But the ugly piles are evidence that the Nor'easter had indeed come. 

Thankfully some great moms stepped up to the task of salvaging Halloween for the little ones.  A Halloween event was organized and held at our high school and all the kids were invited to come trick-or-treat one evening.  The kids and families followed a path through the hallways and collected donated candy at various classroom doorways.  The event didn't allow for running for house to house in the darkness with friends....but the little ones came home with the most important result: candy!!!

I finally feel up to writing about the storm three+ weeks later.  The debris is still being picked up around town.  Although I want to be hopeful that this is the end of the crazy weather for a while, I'm worried inside about what is yet to come.  For the near future, praying that our holidays are happy and uneventful!!!