We had a couple of major storms here in the Midwest two weeks ago. We lost power in the first one, and the one two days later took out more power lines. I heard on the news that in our local area there were over 500,000 homes without electricity. There were homes that had trees on their roofs. I saw houses with broken windows and missing siding. The park down the street lost it’s picnic shelter to a very large tree that fell. On the first evening, the storm hit just as my husband was coming home from work. He barely made it in the door before a very strong gust of wind blew dust, dirt, and debris. I was on my porch when it started and was nearly hit in the head by two helpless doves who were at the mercy of the wind. It felt like a scene out of The Wizard of Oz.
I went in to turn on the news, but I no sooner turned on the TV when the power went out. Then the tornado sirens began blaring and the torrential rain started. My husband and I grapped flashlights and headed to the basement where we learned that no electricity means no sump pump, and the pump well was filling quickly. We started bailing the pump well with buckets, and then hubby would run the buckets up the stairs and empty them into the kitchen sink. I was filling them as fast as he could empty them, and we were not able to stay ahead of all of the water. The basement flooded. After the rain stopped, we opened the garage door (the garage is in the basement) and began the bucket brigade. My in-laws came over to help, and some of our wonderful neighbors came over to help as well. Since my husband had strong male help, I went with a neighbor girl to survey some of the damage.
Just across the street, a neighbor’s tree had fallen, taken out the power lines, and completely blocked the road. A block away, the street parallel to ours flooded and in the darkness cars tried to drive through but many stalled. There were several parked on the sides of the road that had been pushed out of the water. I directed traffic there for about an hour. Some people did not heed my signals to turn and ended up either getting stuck or backing up when they saw what they were up against. Drivers of SUVs and large trucks ignored everyone else and plowed through at full speed. When traffic died down and I went back home, my husband and the neighbors had finished clearing out all of the water. Nothing was permanently damaged.
The night was cooler than usual, but the heat wave returned the next day. The temperature was 93, but the heat index was 109. I was home with no air conditioning, and it was HOT! I work from home, and no power means no computer, which in turn means no work. Two days later, storms again…more flooding while hubby was at work. I was bailing water by myself and not able to keep ahead of the rush. But I knew that if I stopped the flooding would only get worse. My father-in-law helped out, and then a very nice neighbor brought over a generator, hooked up my sump pump, and pumped the water out in only about 45 minutes. Hubby and I decided then and there to buy a generator, but unfortuantely nobody had any left in stock. Finally, after several days of hubby looking online and calling around, we found a Rural King about an hour away that had one left. They said they would put my name on it and hold it until I could get there. FIL offered to drive, so away we went. When we arrived, they had the generator up at the front of the store with my name on it. I purchased it and we were on our way in only five minutes. The best thing? It was on sale! I no longer fear blackouts and floodwater. It did not rain again.
Since I was off work, I had dreams of catching up on all sorts of household chores. Vaccuming required electricity. Laundry required electricity. Using my new sewing machine required electricity. Baking required electricity. Add in no fans, no air conditioning, and a heat wave, and not much got done. Everything in my fridge and freezer went bad and had to be thrown out…the smell was awful.
Days went by…I learned to live with bad hair days…I showered twice a day…and eating peanut butter sandwiches or cold spaghettios had become routine. After 5 days wtihout power, I finally saw my first power truck drive down our street…but it did not stop. Dump trucks came and picked up tree limbs, brush, and debris. Eventually it was trash day and they hauled off all of my spoiled food.
Finally, after a week, I saw the power guys working in my neighborhood, and by evening there was light. This may sound like it was awful, but really it was not. We adjusted to the inconvenience, but we were not harmed bodily and our property was not permanently damaged. Our neighbors, who had been somewhat standoff-ish before came out and chatted, and there was a sense of community that had not been there before. (After the power came back on, I baked cookies and took plates to all of the neighbors who had helped us out.) I needed to clean out my fridge anyway, so the storm just made me stop procrastinating. I fasted from TV for a week and did not even miss it. I enjoyed the sounds of the cicadas and the bullfrogs at night. It was like camping at home. I even got some knitting done.