Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The hills are alive with the sound of generators (and chain saws!)

Wow!  Been a while since you've heard from me?  Blame Ike.  That's Tropical Storm Ike, to you.  Ike, who has no respect for the fact that Ohio is land-locked.  Ike, who blew through Cincinnati Sunday afternoon causing chaos and destruction in his wake.  Chaos!  Destruction!  Dogs and cats... living together... mass hysteria!  Also, we seemed to have lost our trampoline... oh, wait!  There it is!  In the neighbor's yard, sideways, stuck up against their playset (not sure that's the best position for maximum jumping enjoyment.)  Unfortunately, the trampoline frame was bent beyond repair.  RIP, poor trampoline*.  We hardly knew ye (we only had it a month!)

On Sunday we saw incredible acts of neighborly kindness, including neighbors helping Rusty taking apart said trampoline and getting into the garage before it was blown somewhere north of Middletown.  And we witnessed incredible acts of stupidity.  Including a neighbor on his roof in 40 mph sustained winds (with gusts up to 75 mph!)  


We also lost a neighborhood landmark: the "Bus Stop Tree."  The tree in our neighbor's yard where the kids stand to get on the bus.  The tree that sheltered them during light rain (never thunderstorms, though!) and from whose branches the kindergarteners swung while their moms chatted nearby.  The winds were so strong that they started to carry the broken tree down the street so at one point it had to be anchored with chains to keep it out of the road.

While I helped my neighbor rake up the smaller branches a few kids road by on their bikes and shared their condolences.  RIP, Bus Stop Tree.  Yet another victim of Ike's senseless violence.  Boo, senseless violence.

So Monday morning, still no power.  No problem, we have a grill.  We have coffee.  We'll make due (thank God for that camp coffee pot!)

And we listened to the battery-powered, early 90's radio as they read off school after school as closed for the day.  

Liam and Sean's school lost five or six trees, some siding off the portables, the roof off one of the baseball dugouts and a port-a-potty.  


Fast forward a few hours... here is my fridge.  Or more accurately, here is my fridge on Ike.  Late Monday morning and things started to get a little stenchy:

This?  This is my freezer on Monday night.  Twenty-eight hours or so after Ike knocked our power:

It was overcast Monday so we couldn't see much inside without the flashlights.  So we spent a lot of time outside.  Rusty was home from work and he and the boys took advantage of the down-time:

Monday night, still no power.  But see how pretty my condiments look by candlelight? 

The radio tells us that our county has declared a state of emergency, they're asking people to conserve water (and boil in places) and not be on the roads if possible.  Traffic lights are either not working correctly or are out altogether.  Power lines are hanging across some roads.  And a large group of our energy company's workers are out of town, in Texas, trying to help them get back online. 

I get word that my sister and my parents have power.  Our house, as well as my other sister and brother do not.  I live twenty minutes north of my sister and twenty minutes or so south of my brother, if that gives some sort of indication of how wide-spread the blackout was/is.

Then, Tuesday morning, 5:27 AM: the security system starts beeping... we have power!  Which is great.  Until you realize the power went off Sunday afternoon and everything that was on at that time is now on again.  Including Liam's bedroom lamp shining right in his face as he sleeps (as I quickly realized the possibility and raced in to shut it off before it woke him up!)  So I spent ten minutes or so going around the house turning off random lamps and ceiling fans.  I check the radio, school is once again closed, and I go back to bed.  I wake up to find Liam reading and Sean playing in his room.  Not bad.

Later Tuesday morning I decide to brave the possibility of crowds and head down to Kroger to see what I can find.  I figure if we have power back then they too must be back in business.  What I find is a grocery store that had to get rid of every frozen and refrigerated item in the store after a day on generator power.  I find empty coolers and shelves being disinfected by tired-looking employees.  I see shoppers looking dazed and rumpled.  It's kind of eerie to see all the empty shelves.

Rusty works from home... until early afternoon when the internet/phone goes out again.  We find something open for lunch and try to go to Target to pick up a prescription.  I mean, Target looks open.  And they are... but only in the most technical sense of the word.  They have emergency lights on (translation: every tenth light is lit.)  So if you can make your way around the store and find what you need in the semi-dark you can stand in one of two lines and buy something.  

Home again and our phone and internet are still out.  We hear from friends that their power is out and we invite them over to do laundry and be able to take showers.  We play lots of euchre and Texas Hold'em.  We find out school is again closed on Wednesday (today.) Friends and sister still without power as of an hour or so ago today.

So that's the latest.  No word yet on school tomorrow.  School districts across the area are having to cope with freezers and refrigerators full of spoiled food and milk, downed trees and blown off roofs and beat up portables.  Some bus routes are still blocked by trees and power lines and playgrounds have broken limbs and entire trees scattered across them.  Some districts have scattered power from building to building.  So we'll see.

We didn't mind the loss of TV or cable, actually.  We played games, read, and went to bed earlier than usual.  But we could have gone without the loss of an entire fridge and freezer full of food that will have to be replaced.  We're glad we can provide a place for friends to do laundry and hang out, but feel for them as they try to work their way through day three with no power.  For my sister, who has a two year old and a two month old, it's lost its novelty.  Gas stations are still randomly either not able to pump or out of gas.  And though things are still up in the air I think a lot of people have been able to keep perspective.  While it's frustrating, we realize we didn't bear the brunt of Ike and there are those who's lives have been much more deeply affected.  If anything, this has give us a deeper perspective on what it means when you hear "half a million people are without power tonight" on CNN.  

*We announce that trampoline will be replaced.  And there was much rejoicing.  Ye, verily.


Heather said...

Isn't that AMAZING!?!?! Ike dumped 3 1/2 inches and dropped out temp by about 15 degrees, but mainly stayed east of us... MAN! I hope things are back to normal for y'all!!

Emily said...

Great re-cap of Ike! And, ye, thine eyes be filled with joy knowing the trampoline is replaced for much child-like jumping! I'll bounce your way soon!

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