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:

121506_street.jpg
Street debris near our house.

121506_house.jpg
Ouch.

121506_house2.jpg
Double ouch.

121506_porta.jpg
Gross.

121506_gas.jpg
The only working gas station in the area, where we waited for an hour and a half on Friday.

121506_treestreet.jpg
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:

121506_park.jpg

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.

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Rumblelizard
Rumblelizard
16 years ago

My favorite disaster scenario to plan for is Catastrophic Zombie Uprising. I know exactly how I will handle it if the dead arise and seek human victims. I also have a list of people who I plan to call in such an event; if someone really makes me mad, I take them off the Zombie Emergency Call List. :D

wn
wn
16 years ago

Cheers and hugs to all you Washingtonians. My boss in Redmond is without power for day 4…..if he weren’t so rich…I’d almost feel sorry for him.

glad life is back to normal for the Sundry household..:*)

angela
16 years ago

Our corporate office is located in Vancouver CA, and they had horrific winds as well. After several of us sent bitchy e-mails to IT on Friday about our lack of internet connection and no access to the file servers, my boss came round to say that they were experiencing 140km/h winds up there, which downed our connection. I rolled my eyes and bitched and moaned that I wouldn’t be able to get out early as I was planning, due to some measley 140km/h winds preventing me from working… Until I did the conversion and, wow, it turns out the 140km/h translates to nearly 87 mph. Isn’t that hurricane force wind speed?

Also, my BOB (a camel pack) in my trunk contains MREs, iodine pills, a gas mask and filters, and recent topo maps from the USGS with routes and rendezvous points marked, among other things, all thanks to my crazy BF.

ginger
ginger
16 years ago

I saw that footage of the chick in the wind tunnel and thought of the whole exchange here. In fact, I saw it as I was working out, having walked down to my gym and been drenched from head to toe by a Metro bus sailing gaily through the foot-deep puddles. The windows at the gym were flexing a bit, too.

My other gym (yeah, don’t ask) had no power on Saturday, and you’d be amazed how much more pleasant working out in the dark is, because 1) there is no Meat Loaf playing, 2) people are not singing along to Meat Loaf and 3) only the people who actually want to exercise are there, so there is not nearly as much grody flirting going on. (Also, it is dark, so the sleaze targeting is impaired.)

I am horrified and saddened at the deaths (especially that poor chick whose basement killed her.) Has Red Cross opened any emergency shelters for people without power? (And why do I know about the apartment complex that burned down because of emergency candles, but not that? Thanks, local news coverage I can count on!)

Melissa
Melissa
16 years ago

Was thinking of you guys when I heard about that woman who drowned. Glad you are all safe and lucky with the electricity.

Caitlin
Caitlin
16 years ago

Yikes. Glad to know you and yours are safe. My family in Buffalo, NY experienced the craziness of a snow/wind storm (in freaking mid-OCTOBER!), and it sounded absolutely terrifying. The city still looks completely different even after the extensive clean-up, like, where did all the full trees go? Sad.

Niki P.
Niki P.
16 years ago

I also thought of you and your windy comment this morning when I read on CNN that people were poisoning themselves with carbon monoxide to stay warm. You hadn’t posted all weekend… my mind was in a tizzy because I thought for sure JB would want to burn something for heat and anyway I am just glad you and yours are ok.

Chataine
16 years ago

Glad to hear y’all are okay! When I saw news about the storm, I thought about y’all and wondered whether you were some of the ones who were without power still, so I’m happy that your family was spared from extra days of ‘floral, yet horrific’-scented lighting. (That made me giggle out loud at work. Hehe.) I’ll be praying for all those who lost loved ones, who are without power, or who have extensive damage to their homes. Thanks for keeping us updated!

Scott
16 years ago

Glad to hear you guys are OK. We managed to make it through without losing power. My sister-in-law and her kids are staying at our house now – they aren’t going to have power until Thursday. Eesh.

Leah
16 years ago

Glad you were all safe and in the appropriate number of layers of p.j.s.

Ang
Ang
16 years ago

Wow.

Swistle
16 years ago

Holy crap. Glad you guys are okay.

We used to live in northwest WA, and I remember that when there was a lot of wind the trees would just go down like bowling pins: the usual generous rainfall not only makes the ground loose and easy to pull roots out of, but it also means the trees don’t need to dig their roots very deep–so you’d see these overturned trees with, like, a flat PLATE of roots underneath them.

This botany lesson brought to you by when I’m nervous about what could have happened I like to surround myself with non-human science facts.

Also, Rumblelizard, I hope you’ve got my back if there’s a zombie uprising–and if so, I have a really good pantry of non-perishables I can contribute to the resistence.

Pete
Pete
16 years ago

Glad to hear everyone is ok. One thing you might want to look at is a portable generator. We got a Honda 2000i for when we car camp and use it to run the fridge and freezer when we lose power. I always wanted to get a picture of a dummy reading a paper in a knocked over porta-potty and label it ‘determination’ or something.

Danell
16 years ago

“the surprising taste of powdered milk” : hee hee hee.

Zoot
16 years ago

My best friend (who hates the cold and the snow) relocated to New Castle for a job the week before the last snow storm. Everyone reassured her that the weather was not normally like that, and then she called me on Sunday from a gas station telling me they had been without power for three days. She laughs at the joke Mother Nature is playing on her…but she’s also a little freaked out by it all. I hope for all of your sake’s that the winter is mild from here on out.

Sonia
Sonia
16 years ago

I’m glad your family is okay! Thanks for posting the emergency numbers!!!! My friend, whose house was squished by a tree may not have those. She sent an e-mail with photos (I posted them on my blog) and a note indicating that they still hadn’t talked to a real, live human being about their involuntary remodel ala Mother Nature. I’ll send those to her right now.

Cassie
Cassie
16 years ago

Glad you and your family are safe. My husband says when something like this happens it is Gods way of weeding out the weak. I sometimes have to agree. At least the stupid people. How many times in our lives have we been told not to bring carbon monoxide producing products like grills, etc. in our homes to heat them? It is tragic, but come on PEOPLE!! I remember one year in the midwest when it got really cold and a person put gas in the microwave to heat it up so that their car would start. It just has to be true and not some urban legend right??

Cari
16 years ago

Glad to hear ya’ll are doing ok. When Rita had come through my husband and I had gotten the outer bands from it where we lived and we were without power for 9 days. We thought we’d be stuck out in BFE where we lived because 2 huge trees blocked the road. But later that evening we got out. Having a little emergency kit isn’t bad. Just don’t let JB go crazy and all.

geri
geri
16 years ago

Linda, I’ve been thinking about you and JB and Riley since I heard the news about the storm and power outage. I’m so glad you all are ok and your house is in one piece. Take care.

justmouse
justmouse
16 years ago

i have been without heat and/or power before. it’s not so much fun. especially in November. last time we had no power was for a week. indeed, all of the food in our fridge rotted. it was dark. i was cold. and miserable. and i have to say i actually had honest to god OIL LAMPS in my house…and they were NOT decorative. it would have been cozy if it hadn’t been…you know…necessary. it was a pretty miserable damn week. lucky for us there were no hurricanes, torrential rains, or apocolyptic horsemen.

glad you’re all safe and sound! (also, instead of votive candles or gas lamps, might i suggest the coleman lanterns that LOOK like traditional gas lanterns, but are actually super bright and efficient hallogen type flashlight thingies? they are WONDERFUL!!)

Sadie
Sadie
16 years ago

Okay, now that I know you guys are okay, I am going to ask the shallow question…is the new Touareg okay too????

Mary O
Mary O
16 years ago

Thank goodness you and the fam are ok! My sister was out of power for 5 days in Portland. It’s hard to believe that in this day and age it would take so long to get power restored! I guess that shows how bad it really was. Glad that you’re back online!

erica
16 years ago

I’m so glad to hear you and the JB and Riley made it thru ok. What a horrible time. Thank goodness you at least had a bajillion scented candles for light. My husband and I don’t even have a flashlight in the house, for crissake. Maybe JB can give internet correspondence courses on Surviving Catastrophic Events Without Looking Like An Idiot. If he decides to, sign me right up.

Liz
Liz
16 years ago

We got power back this morning, but we were pussies and went to stay with friends who had warmth and hot showers. My husband’s been on this emergency preparedness kick lately but now he’s REALLY SERIOUS ABOUT IT.

The thing about the carbon monoxide people is that most of them were recent immigrants from warm places. Why would they know not to burn charcoal in the house? Give them a break.

Lisa B
Lisa B
16 years ago

We got power back Sunday morning, and after swearing my undying love for PSE and allowing myself to guilt-free toss the unused (but still good!) condiments in the fridge door that date back to the 1990s, just one note: some of the people who were felled by carbon monoxide were undone by the gas seeping into the house, not that they had the gas-producing grill or whatever *in* the house. Yes, bad things happen to good people. We’re not all stupid, some of us are just unlucky. (And yes, when my husband’s mother called to warn us, I’ll admit I did say ‘jeez, doesn’t everybody know that?!’)

gnometree
16 years ago

You do realise that with temps sitting around 30 (I assume that’s close to freezing point – I only do Celsius) that your food wouldn’t spoil if you left it in a slightly open icebox OUTSIDE? You can store things like milk quite safely in a box of snow…..

Jennifer
16 years ago

My parents lost their power down in Olympia, and they tried to stay warm by running their gas-logs fireplace. However the electric blower wouldn’t work of course, so they just sat in front of the flame. Now I’m wondering whether a gas-flame-without-ventilation is another CO danger? I’m glad their power went back on before they potentially gas-log-fireplace’d themselves to death.

It’s true what Sundry said… people are trying to stay warm and are just grasping at anything they have. With the power out, how could anyone watch the news or listen to the radio to find out where the shelters were?

I hope everyone’s power is back on soon.

Kizz
16 years ago

I need JB to come to my house and remind me about disaster preparedness. I spend a lot of time thinking, “If anything happened I really ought to have______” but I never get the stuff. I have like 4 AA batteries, a vanilla scented candle and a Brita water pitcher I usually forget to fill. I’m glad you guys had everything you needed to stay safe and at home. Scary stuff those winds.

Brooke
16 years ago

Glad you guys are okay. I think of you everytime Seattle is in the news. God bless.

girl in greenwood
16 years ago

I just got my power back on this afternoon. We stayed 3 nights in 3 different hotels and felt extremely lucky that we didn’t have to deal with any kids or pets while we tried to find warm places to sleep, and that we had the money (credit, actually) available to stay elsewhere. And we live in freaking Greenwood, not out in some tree-y outlying community.

Pete
Pete
16 years ago

FYI a gas fireplace will vent to the outside so no problem there. On the other hand it uses air from the house to burn with the gas so your house will actually cool down as outside air comes in to replace the air that went up the chimney.

Emily
16 years ago

Glad you guys are okay. I would rather eat cardboard flavored with ass than live off of MREs … seriously, what the hell is JB trying to do to you? Doesn’t he know that each one of those things contain, like, eight billion calories? I gained SO much weight in basic training from eating those.

Anyway … yeah. Hooray for your house being in one piece!

JennB
JennB
16 years ago

I’m glad you’re ok. There’s something a little odd about being excited about bad weather when it approaches and making fun of the dorks on the weather who blow everything out of proportion, but when it hits and you lose power and it’s for real and what will you do with the kid when he wakes up and you have to entertain him the old fashioned way, holy shit, then that bad weather is not so much good as bad. I was wondering if you got whacked with the weather. We here in Vermont? Enjoying 40 degree mornings and 50 degree days, thanks. Here in F-ing mid-December, when we should have snow 3 feet tall! Grumble… I’m really just worried that Santa won’t have a place to land the sleigh.

And a woodstove? An excellent idea!!!

Philos
16 years ago

Good to see you checking in and that you’re all okay. You are indeed in a lucky pocket area – although my power (in Queen Anne, but just south of Fremont) was only out 12 hours, I have friends in both south Seattle and in northern Redmond who still have no power.

Meg
Meg
16 years ago

My mom and brother are up in WA as well, and I heard about the lady in her basement. Damn, that is scary. That whole wind storm sounded pretty intense! My mom was glad that even though she was sitting in the dark, at least her school was shut down and she didn’t have to go into work! Hee. Glad you guys are all okay up there!

eileen
eileen
16 years ago

I’ve been reading your blog since well before you gave birth to the dear Riley – and when I woke up on Friday and realised my “kid” (a 15-year-old blind/deaf/dumbasaperoxideblonde doggie) and I were unscathed yet saw how many more didn’t fare as well, my first thoughts went to you and yours. Give Riley, Dog and Cat a great big “yay – you’re fine” hug for me, ‘K???

samantha jo campen
16 years ago

I’m so glad you’re all okay and Riley slept through the worst of it.

I can’t imagine feeling that helpless, wondering if the roof is going to go or if a tree will split the house in half. Mother Nature sure knows how to kick some ass.

I hope things are starting to get back to normal and that those that suffered damages are somewhere safe. My thoughts are with you all!

Erin
16 years ago

Glad you all are okay. We here in St. Louis have been feeling for you all out there, as we also just had a massive week-long power outage (due to an ice storm) during a f–ing ass freezing period of single digit temps. Can I just say Glory Be For Electricity!

Shannon
16 years ago

We live just across the Sound from you guys and it was the same here, only that Port-a-potty, it was ours. Yeah, gross.

Luckily we were without power for only about 24 hours. My parents are still without. Hopefully life can get back to normal for everyone soon!

Lesley
Lesley
16 years ago

We had the same hurricane force winds in Vancouver and whole trees came out of the ground and flew around like witches broomsticks. I’m still incredulous that I slept through the whole thing. And I’m the kind of sleeper that if I hear a pin drop I get annoyed, usually. Thankfully, my hydro didn’t fail like the tens of thousands who lost power for days. Some are still without power on Vancouver Island. Something tells me that when the big earthquake hits, it’s going to be chaos around here because few people are prepared for crises like this.

MJ
MJ
16 years ago

I was *really* lucky in that my power was back on before noon on Friday (less than 12 hours after it went out Thursday night). I found out today that quite a number of my coworkers are still without power, and some don’t expect it back until Friday.

As for mocking local news, Q13 Fox made a PSA last night, giving the phone number for one of the utilities company – “We encourage you to call this number, especially if your neighbors have power and you do not.” Um. Should I ask the obvious question here or just let it go?

All kidding aside, I’m glad to hear your family also made it through the storm unscathed. Here’s hoping the rest of the state makes it through.

Julie
Julie
16 years ago

It really is a nasty little wake up call isn’t it? First the floods, then the snowfall – so yeah, what’s a bit of wind? Worse than the other two combined it turns out. I’m in Coquitlam, just east of Vancouver, and that storm knocked us all on our asses. I think everyone is thinking Survival Kits these days – it would actually make a damn fine Christmas present! I’m glad you are all okay. Miraculously, after all the dramatic and extensive property damage in BC, there were a lot of near misses and very few deaths, although an eldely couple did pass away from carbon monoxide poisioninig – such a preventable tragedy. The gas fireplace, even if it doesn’t give much more than the illusion of heat, at least adds some welcome light and ambiance to a darkened, power-free room! I was so glad we had it during our power outtages. Glad you are all well there, with the sense of humour intact! Thanks for writing.

Kristin
16 years ago

I’ve been thinking of you guys, too. My brother’s been with out power for days, with no end in sight. Glad you’re all safe and warm.

Donna
Donna
16 years ago

Glad you are ok, we were worried!
I am shocked, shocked I tell you, that JB didn’t have a little jenny left over from Y2K. Being that he had mre’s and stuff.
I remember the science experiment that had the candle with the glass, and when it used up all the O2 in the glass it went out, so that you knew that if you burn a flame in an enclosed area, it uses all the O2, and then you die. And then you also have the carbon monoxide that is left in it’s place.
I couldn’t believe the trees in the pictures, that’s some shit. It’s amazing that babies can sleep thru all that huh?
Again, glad you’re ok…

samantha
16 years ago

I am so glad to see you updating. I was worried for you all. We were watching tv the other night and it showed the lines to get gas. I said to my hubby, “I think that is near Linda’s area.” The reporter interviewed a college-aged kid who has selling his emergency supply of gas for TWENTY-FIVE dollars a gallon. My husband was screaming at the screen that the kid should be beaten.

I am glad that you, JB, and the kidlet are fine and toasty.

kate
kate
16 years ago

I was thinking about you guys along with all of our friends and family up there. We’re heading to Redmond for Christmas, where my dad is still without power. Could be a very cold holiday!

Glad that you guys were safe, and that no major damage was done to you and yours (a tree would look terrible in that pretty new bathroom)!

Mary
Mary
16 years ago

I was lucky, my boys brought their camping gear upstairs and fixed me a cup of coffee. I can handle anything if I have my coffee. Speaking of which — I live in South Snohomish County. ALL the power was out in my town. Except for the one espresso stand that brought in a generator or something. Friday morning I drove by and there were seven cars in line on each side! Down the way the Starbucks was open, and there must have been 40 people in there. I laughed and laughed. Blow us away, make the earth shake, we can handle that, but by GOD keep the coffee flowing!

Steph
16 years ago

Just chiming in my sad story — still no power, and just got off the phone with my landlord. The latest she’s heard is that it won’t be up till Friday or Saturday. We finally gave up on trying to survive (camping stove gas running out, can see our breath inside the apartment) and stayed with friends on Monday night.

It’s extremely frustrating, too, because I live just a mile south of downtown Bellevue. Anyone from around here, as you drive on Bellevue Way, you’ll notice this mile-long pocket that is pitch black at night, while everyone else around, including bustling Bell Square is just lit up like blazes.

We don’t own a car, either, so last night as we bussed into Seattle to our friends’ house, I felt about as close to homeless as I hope I ever feel.

At least we have a place to stay, unlike the reality for a lot of people out there.