In Which Disaster Strikes
I was keeping an eye on the online weather map on Sunday afternoon, and spotted a strong line of storms approaching. Around 4 p.m., my forecast said that a heavy thunderstorm was expected to arrive in about 30 minutes. My husband's online radar showed the storm narrowly missing us.
But then came the lightning and the thunder, which were really amazing. We walked to the end of our driveway and hooted and hollered as we watched the lightning strikes, which were AMAZING. As the wind picked up and the torrential rain began, we ran for the porch, and continued to watch the show. As another loud thunder banged, maybe some of the loudest I've ever heard, I actually screamed.
And then as the sky turned slightly green, the winds got much, much worse. The rain began to mix with pea-sized hail. We watched as the trees bent. And then it happened: a loud crack, as one of our big maple trees SNAPPED and came down, right toward us!
Of course, as soon as it was safe to do so, we ran down to have a look, and the devastation was amazing. It was a huge maple tree, maybe 60 feet. One of the prettiest sights in the yard, when autumn comes. But not anymore. Of all the things I am sad about related to this event, I am sorry for the tree, most of all.
The tree missed the house, thank goodness, and it also missed my husband's Chevy Impala by about two feet. It did make a great big mess in the yard, and it took out all of the lines: the house went dark as the power went out. Oh no! Also gone were the phone and Internet lines.
A cable dangled from the house, blocking access to the garage. The other end of the same cable hung low over the road. After determining it was not a line that would be dangerous to touch, my husband climbed up on a ladder and we put a red ribbon on the line over the road, to draw people's attention. We hoisted it up as high as we could get it. It was all we could do.
As soon as the rain slowed down, my husband rode his bike over to the neighbors' house to borrow their phone to call the power company (they said it would be back on by 8 p.m.). Shortly, he and the neighbor were back to survey the damage. I borrowed the phone again to call the telephone company; they said it would be restored by Wednesday.
It was a rather warm day, heading into a hot start of the week. So we spent most of the evening on the porch where it was cooler. Walking around the yard, we spotted Tiny Bunzini, out and about. What a trooper! My husband started calling the bun "Resolute Rabbit."
The hummingbirds buzzed all around, totally unbothered, sipping from every orange jewelweed bloom. Their chatter was oddly comforting. "At least I don't have to mow that part of the yard anymore," my husband said; a small attempt at humor.
We didn't open the fridge or freezer, not once. We got out small LED lanterns we use for camping out. We ate snack bars and had to forego the wonderful Sunday night dinner we had been planning.
As is our way, when times get tough (and even when they don't), our music helps us get by. My husband got out one of our iPods and attached a little speaker, and we jammed to Thin Lizzy, REO Speedwagon, and finally, the Doors.
One of the guys with the power company came by and checked things out. He called in to report our tree down on the line; told us sadly that there were "hundreds" of people without power already above us on the list. No, we wouldn't be back in business by 8 p.m.
Earlier in the day, my husband rode his bike over to another neighbor's house to ask for any help he could provide. Around 8 p.m., the neighbor came by on his riding tractor with the offer of assistance with a chainsaw on Monday afternoon.
Some lady driving by stopped to ask if she could get through on the road in front of our house. We were just standing there, looking at our tree, wondering how she thought we would even KNOW the news. No phone, no Internet; look, we've got a tree down. I shrugged, raised my hands in the air: "No idea!" I replied. (Turns out the main road WAS closed not far away, for a tree that came down due to lightning strike).
We went to bed without supper, and without air conditioning or even a fan. We cracked the windows open. We had a lantern in every room. I heard the cicadas going at it full blast, like I always did in August as a girl back home, growing up. Their song always seemed to signal to me that it was time to go back to school.
At about a quarter to three in the morning, I was wakened from a dead sleep by the sound of chainsawing. The power guys were here! Hooray! By about 4:20 a.m. (hey, who's counting), the power came back on. What a grand moment that was! We ran around the house turning on fans and air conditioners, giving each other a high-five. It had been off for pretty much exactly 12 hours.
Dexter cried out in the night. He didn't like the disruption in his routine, didn't like the noise of the chain saws. He cried for a while and my husband spoke soothingly to him, "It's going to be all right." And then we all went back to sleep.
In the morning, I took the bus in to work so my husband would have access to the Impala, the only outside car that's drivable. (My Mazda, without brakes, sat in the driveway untouched by the disaster; no, the brake repair is not the first item on our list right now.)
As I write this blip, around noon on Monday, our status is this. The power is back on. The phone and Internet are back on. The cable that was hanging low has been detached, and no longer hangs over the road or blocks access to the garage.
I called the insurance company and they said if I send them a photo of the tree that is down, they will send me a check for $500, which probably will not cover the cost of its removal. My husband's pal arrived with tractor and chainsaw just a bit ago. So help has arrived, and we are headed in the right direction!
Here are the things we are grateful for. The tree fell while we were home, and so we were right there on the scene to deal with it. (We actually got to WATCH it fall, which was both horrifying and amazing in a way I cannot describe.)
The tree did not hit the house, any animals, or any cars. No people were hurt. While the Tabbycat was very upset, he will be fine and we will be too. Tiny Bunzini showed what an unflappable little creature s/he is!
And now that we have power and phone and Internet back, we are so happy to be at the point where we were yesterday at this time, all things we took for granted then, but that we DO NOT take for granted today!
My husband insisted that this must be our song for this day, and so here it is: REO Speedwagon, with Ridin' the Storm Out, from 1977.