Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hurricane Irene. Ugh.

Hurricane Irene hit while we were out of town at the beach, as Richmond continued Natural Disaster Week. I'm surprised it didn't snow, too. Anyways, when we left and up until right before the storm hit, it looked like it was really going to skirt by Richmond and mostly hug the coast. Then, like these annoying hurricanes do, it shifted West and all the sudden half of Vermont - which isn't even ON the coast - is flooded.

We ended up leaving the beach a day early and as we rode in the car Saturday, I kept up with current events in my most favorite way - my Facebook feed. I ignored the over-hyped national news and instead just read updates from people in Richmond. At least, those who still how power. From what I read, the storm sounded bad, but not horrible. It lasted a long time. Our house lost power a few hours in.

On the second half of the drive home Sunday, I kept checking in with my neighbors and calling Dominion to check the status of our power outage. We were so hopeful it would be on by the time we got home. But it wasn't. We rolled in around 11pm and I lit candles and kept Charlie entertained with flashlights while Brad unloaded the car.

We were very fortunate that it hasn't been hot in Richmond. Mid-80's mostly. So sleeping was a little hard, but not too bad. Monday morning Brad got up and went to the store and drove around some to look at the damage. There were/are just so many huge trees uprooted and many of them were laying on power lines. Every block or so is another one. Trees on houses, cars, power lines, you name it.

Most of the town didn't have power and so a lot of stores (including Walmart - you know they were ticked) and gas stations were closed and intersections were being directed by cops since the traffic lights were off. The start of school has been postponed since the schools lost power too.

I was revving myself up to handle the no power situation with Brad out of town, since he needed to leave by Monday evening at the latest to go to Dallas. It's a really busy week for him and not one where he could really stay. But after he got out of the shower and said there was no hot water, I decided we needed a generator. As Brad put it, I folded like a cheap suit.

So off to Home Depot he went, and picked up the same model our neighbors across the street got. We got it running and had hot water, turned the fridge on, plugged in a lamp, charged the electronics - it was great! It's kind of an intimidating piece of equipment, but I think I have it mostly figured out now. I'm sure it will come in handy many times in the future.

One nice thing about not having power is how the neighborhood comes together. People walk around and talk, we have been invited over a couple of times for dinner, and it's actually kind of social. I guess that's kind of what life was like before air conditioning. You just kept the house open and people dropped by.

Don't get me wrong, I'll still take air conditioning.

We were very fortunate and our house didn't have any damage from the storm. Considering the dozens of trees on our lot, that is VERY fortunate. We just have a TON of debris to pick up. It's a mess. Branches and pine cones everywhere. Brad moved his car into the garage before we left on the trip and so it didn't have any damage either.

Our power came back on yesterday and I'm feeling very lucky about that as well. The two adjacent streets to us still don't have power. I'm not sure what the hold up is for them, but it sure makes me feel bad. I've been offering to let people come do laundry or take a hot shower or watch TV or whatever. I wish there was more I could do. I don't know how we have been so fortunate to get our power back so quickly.

Walking up and down the street, all you hear is loud whirring. Almost everyone has a generator, most purchased right after Hurricane Isabel. Many people went without power for 2 weeks then. Some even have their generators wired into their homes. You can't use anywhere close to everything, but it saves having all those extension cords run all over the house.

So that's what's been going on here. After we got power back, I had about 2 tons of post-vacation laundry to do. And poor Charlie has developed an awful cough. I guess just from being tired out after the trip. His allergies are so terrible here, they turn into an infection really quickly.

I'll do another post about the trip. It was quick but fun! I hope everyone else out there impacted by Irene is recovering OK.

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