December 18, 2006
I’ll tell you what, I don’t think I’ll taunt the weather gods again with any jokey blog posts about how our local news makes such a Big Goddamned Deal about storms, because even though last Thursday night’s broadcast included footage of a reporter standing in front of a giant wind machine fan thing to demonstrate what 60 MPH winds felt like, which was so profoundly and perfectly stupid I made JB replay it three times in a row so we could add our own commentary and properly extract the most humor from the scene, by the time it was midnight and I was lying in bed staring round-eyed up at the ceiling wondering if the roof was just going to tear right off, or what, I was kind of regretting the fact that my very last communication with the world via the Internet would include a bad graphic that said “HOLY SHIT IT’S WINDY”, like ha ha HAAAA, isn’t it funny how people make such a big deal out of wind, what a bunch of pussies.
We lost power around 1 AM Friday morning, and as the heater died and the outside lights turned off and the weather went completely batshit outside with lightning and rain and apocalyptic horsemen, Cat managed to put aside her normal feelings of disgust for the occupants of the house that are not her, and scrambled onto the bed with us. Riley, thank god, slept through it all.
The next morning we drove around our neighborhood, and although I was grumpy that our house was freezing and dark and everything in the fridge was going to start rotting any minute and we were probably going to eat Chef Boyardee for dinner, I felt phenomenally lucky that our home was in one piece. Look:
Street debris near our house.
The only working gas station in the area, where we waited for an hour and a half on Friday.
Just up the road.
No one in those houses was hurt, thank god, but what a nightmare. That’s just the scenario I pictured in my head Thursday night, over and over: the groaning crackle, the whistle of branches and the tearing sound of the roots leaving the earth, and then massive collision as your roof comes down into your living room.
We heard an enormous crash at some point, which we couldn’t identify at the time, but I’m pretty sure it was this tree coming down in the park that’s at the end of the block:
The grocery store a couple blocks away had some power, enough for some lights and processing payment, but they had removed all the perishables. It was pretty creepy in there, dark and cold and full of people cleaning out the D batteries and ice. They somehow had part of the coffee bar open, and I wish I had taken a photo of the enormous line of people waiting to get their trembling, caffeine-withdrawal-palsied fix.
(I wanted to wait in the line, too, but JB said NOFNWAY.)
The power came back on Friday evening, and although we had made a fairly comfortable setup out of a pile of blankets, half a billion votive candles, and JB’s laptop running Kill Bill, it was an incredible relief to have the appliances start clicking on and the heat come alive with a whoosh. We had to sneak into Riley’s room and carefully peel him out of the 3 layers of pajamas we’d wrapped him in, so he wouldn’t wake up in a puddle of sweat.
I figured everything would be back to normal Saturday morning, but apparently we were in a very lucky pocket area that had power restored, because many of the surrounding neighborhoods were still dark. No lights, no heat. It was 30 degrees on Saturday morning, same on Sunday.
JB now thinks we should get a wood stove, among other things. This is a man who obsessively stocked our Las Vegas garage with cases of MREs and water before Y2K, and has a camping gear checklist with at least seventy-five items on it. Preparing For Disaster is one of his favorite mental exercises, and I suspect in the wake of this storm he will quietly fill our garage with batteries, propane, emergency blankets, and stacks of those godawful military meals.
Anyway, lessons learned:
• Mocking the local news approach to weather may possibly result in catastrophic statewide damage, and won’t you feel stupid then.
• Always have a shitload of candles on hand, even if, once lit, they create a clashing olfactory scenario that can really only be described as “floral, yet horrific”.
• Prepare child for the surprising taste of powdered milk by distraction: look at Daddy carrying the chainsaw! Isn’t Daddy funny? Be ready to comfort child if said image of father wielding Texas-Massacre-esque saw is visually disturbing.
There have been a few deaths from this storm, from falling trees and one particularly horrible story of a woman who drowned in her basement when it filled with water from Thursday’s torrential downpour. People who are still without heat (in what has unfortunately turned into bitterly cold weather) are bringing grills and hibachis inside to try and stay warm, and becoming poisoned by carbon monoxide.
Here’s hoping by the time I can hit publish on this entry, life will be getting back to normal for everyone in the area. Stay warm, friends.