Sunday, November 18, 2012

The yearly hurricane and early snowstorm

I thought that since I had not lost power during last year's Hurricane Irene and only lost power over night during last year's October snowstorm, that I would fine power-wise during Hurricane Sandy. I live in a large multiple condo development that has thousands of residents with all underground utility lines. I also live near major County Roads, an interstate highway exit, and a hospital.  Nevertheless I geared up for the hurricane.  I didn't go crazy but I packed the fridge and freezer full of ice and extra items to maintain the coldness if the power went out. I got firewood, full tank of gas, and some extra food.

On the day of the storm, I worked from home and the lights flickered early in the day. Not a good sign. Winds and some rain picked up.  Although the rain didn't and never came close to Hurricane Irene. Mind you Hurricane Irene made landfall to my northeast and Hurricane Sandy made landfall to my south. The winds picked up and by 6 pm they were pretty brutal. I had been watching tv coverage all day, saw that Sandy had made landfall, then at 8 pm decided I needed to watch something else.  I was excited to see a PBS show about wolverines and was just getting comfortable when the power went out. I peeked outside and it was pitch black everywhere with swirling ominous winds.  Well I thought, I'm sure by morning the power will be back on and went to bed.
Next morning I awoke and peeked outside. A few branches were down, but overall it looked ok in my vicinity.  Still no power. I go outside and break into my garage and disconnect the electric opener. I call work and no one answers. I call a boss and he says that's he's home and he'll try to call work and see what's up and will call me. I decide to take a drive and there's quite a bit of trees down in the condo and some buildings have trees on them and one has shed some of its siding. I then see the top photo and realize that's probably why I don't have power. It's a crazy mess of trees and downed poles and lines.  It's the closest County Road and looks horrible. I drive into the nearby town and no one has power.  Dunkin Donuts is open and selling day old donuts. I go back home and start a fire in the fireplace and await the power. I make french toast on the fireplace and so the house camping begins. Still no power.
 Home Goods discarding its awning.
It's the next day and I call work to see if they have power and they do. The snotty secretary lets me know that work has never lost power and that SHE was at work yesterday.  I ask why the phones went straight to voicemail if she was in and she said she left because no one was there.  Mind you she gave me a hard time working from home the day of the hurricane.   I tell her that I'll be in once I get firewood from my parents.  They live 7 minutes away and for 45 minutes I try and try to make it to their place.  Road after road is closed by downed lines or trees. I give up and make my way to the highway except again road after road is closed. I finally find my way and I'm on my way.  I get to work hours late but it was nice to have real light and heat.  Work is right next to a large commercial area so I could get hot meals.  I then start to hear the gas horror stories....3 hour line for gas.  I have 1/2 a tank by now so I'm hoping that things will get better.  Days go by and I repeatedly check the electric company's website, the township website, etc. for updates on power and road closures. At first the information is helpful, but then it's clear that wheels are spinning and no real progress or information is available. I had yet to see electric workers anywhere doing work, but I see them traveling or parked nearby.  It's now the end of the week and it's getting colder and colder at home. I'm dreading the long weekend and making soup on the fireplace just isn't cutting it.  Still no power and so I head to my visit my parents on sunday to pick up firewood.

My parents had 7 large trees fall on their house....a domino effect. No real damage to the house or deck. The nearby woods has more trees down on the ground than upright. I cruise around the woods to get a closer look.  It looks like mostly white ashes went down with some other trees here and there. I later learn that white ashes have shallow roots in rocky soil, which is what my parents have.  I get to see the slow operation of getting the trees off the house. 

By Monday, I see that the weather will get even colder with mid-20's that night. So I start making alternate living arrangements.  I book one of the only hotel rooms for Tuesday (election) night and my cousin convinces me to spend Monday up with her...even though it's an hour drive.  I make my way home to pack and pack enough to not come back until power is restored. I drive up and see that they are working on the top photo's mess. Earlier that week, the trees had been cut and removed, but the downed lines remained. I park and go over to interrogate the crew.  If I'm lucky I could have power in an hour or if a circuit blows, then they don't know when it'll be up. So I pack and get gas and when I come back I see the crew gone and it's still dark. I call my cousin to say that I'll be coming up and that I just need to load my stuff in the car. Just as I'm loading the last bag, the power comes back. That's how it goes. Just when you completely give up, that's when things happen.

Thankfully the following nor'easter was a non-event.  The ride home in the snow was a bit tough especially with the increased traffic and lack of potential open alternates. I got 5 inches of snow that night, but it was already starting to melt by morning.  I didn't lose power and now felt safe to buy perishables for the fridge again.