Monday, August 25, 2008

Tropical Storm Faye

Friday night: the power went out for several hours. Strangely, our neighbor two doors down had power. Across the street and two doors down did also. Our house that's about to sell did, too. Yet many of the other houses around here did not have power. There was no logic to why certain places had power while others didn't. The McDonald's was without power, but the KFC next door had it. The street lights were all on, but the traffic signals were not all working. A traffic signal out just below the still-lit John Deere dealer sign seemed to paint the clearest picture of peculiar priorities. All in all, though, we weathered the storm.

Saturday: the power came back on in the night, and we were sleeping off the strange off and on power that had kept us awake. Then an emergency phone message woke us up at around 8:30 (hard to be sure with no clocks on), so we got up. The power stayed on just fine until noon, just in time for me to check the weather and see that we were at the top of a pattern that was about to roll over us for what appeared to be ten hours. That estimate was a tad short, as I write this entry around 10:30 and the rain is still going. The power came back on for all of five seconds twice just now, but it has been out for all the time since noon. A massive pine tree (I hate pine trees, ask anyone who knows me) fell over a power line at our old house and knocked out power to the whole neighborhood. Apparently they managed to finally get the tree off that line just now, but they're not really to fire us back up completely yet. The ditches all over our neighborhood were like running streams, and some yards turned into ponds. We had a running stream across our old yard, and whitewater rapids in the ditch by our driveway. We almost didn't make it in time to feed our dog before the flood kept us from getting down there. The streets in the other direction out of the neighborhood also had pines (see above about hatred) down across the road, and the water was deep enough to stop a sedan (fortunately we drive a Jeep). Sometime around 7:00 we discovered the water had stopped running as well, so I decided we should stockpile some water in the laundry room sink and bathtub so we could flush toilets. Amazingly, the rain was coming down so hard, it only took us about half an hour to forty-five minutes of toting buckets in (I got soaked) to get both full. About five minutes after I managed to get that water, the rain basically stopped, so that worked out nicely. We managed to get out to Walmart - most of town still had power, fortunately - only to find that they were only letting people in with an "escort". We got our supplies (bottled water, milk, ice, and a couple of other camping items) and got out. When we left, there were fifteen or twenty people waiting just to get their escort. Great timing. Now we're being lulled to sleep by what is hopefully the last band of this massive storm, and hoping we'll wake up to power and water, and get to go to church if we're lucky. (Amazing what a difference half an hour makes) I wrote those thoughts, and took a walk around the dark house with a flash light, then sat down by the window upstairs to listen to the wind in the trees outside. Then the power came back on and has stayed on for more than a minute. As I told my wife, this experience brings back the memories of being in Waveland, MS, where Katrina had come ashore, and wandering around the town during the day where no one had refrigeration, sewer, or power of any kind unless they owned a generator . It is amazing how quickly we can be reminded of how blessed we are in this country with the amenities we consider basic.

Sunday: the rain was rare and brief. Most of the flooding subsided. The power only blinked off briefly, and the water pressure was back up. The road out of our neighborhood was still blocked off by our house, but we were able to go out the back way to church, which was only one service. It was great, though, because people simply bore their testimonies. We heard various reports of how people were blessed - trees missed their homes, some were able to keep their home from flooding despite their own physical ailments that should've prevented them from doing what it took, prayers uttered that brought comfort to those who were suffering, and many others. It was a relaxing day after what might've seemed a trying weekend. But it wasn't really a trying weekend. We're safe, we really had little discomfort, and we didn't lost anything for our troubles.
Notes on this post: I wrote as much as I could on the days things actually happened, though limited power and Internet access made it difficult at times. I am posting it Monday, but I wanted to get my thoughts recorded in the midst of the experience. I am proud of how well we've weathered the various inconveniences. The lessons we've learned will improve our 72-hour kits for future emergencies, and hopefully just help us respond better in general because we know we can handle rough times. For anyone interested in our "cistern" adventure, my wife's blog should have some pictures. It has been quite an adventure.

-- Robert


Natasha said...

Wow. That's interesting that some places were out of power but the neighbors were fine.

Good to be prepared. 14-day supply of water: get on that! :-)

Robert said...

Well, we had a great supply of water in our own house, but when we moved out, not all of our storage came with us. We regretted some of that, and we're making up for it. We even bought some things that we could use to purify water in a pinch.