Behind My Red Door

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Fury of Mother Nature!!

Living in NE, in our part of MA specifically, we are used to snow storms. When snow is predicted, we shop for food, make sure we have batteries and hot cocoa, and hunker down. When the snow stops, the roads are plowed and life goes on. Very rarely does it disrupt us very much and generally it is just an inconvenience. In the greater scheme of things, it is nothing to worry about. We are always well warned and with proper planning, we can almost always insure our safety. Where I live, we are not subject to devastating flooding, rarely do we have droughts that are dangerous, tornadoes are very rare, hurricanes are usually just an inconvenience because we are so far inland, we don't have mudslides, or forest fires either. In short, Mother Nature does not usually deal us much of the life altering or catastrophic weather that others experience.

But occasionally, when the weather conditions are just right, we get an ice storm. Not very often, in fact I think it has been 10 years since we had one of this magnitude. We weren't affected nor were our loved ones during that one though. But this time, it is different. The weird thing is the roads in my area did not even ice up. But it stuck - to the trees and power lines and the weight of it, took the branches down - on anything it it's way. Houses, cars and those already too heavy power lines.

The town we live in has it's own electric light company with an incredible track record of NOT loosing power. In the 22 years we have lived here, we have lost power only for a few hours total - that's a few hours spread out over 22 years. We also have our own private cable and Internet and they are extremely reliable too. When others around us loose it with any wind or snow storm, not us. And this held true with this devastating ice storm that hit much of the East coast Thursday into Friday. Because of that, DH and I had no inclination that our loved ones in neighboring towns had already lost their power when we went to bed Thursday night. It wasn't until the phone rang at 1:30 am with our DD hysterical that a tree branch had crashed through the kitchen skylight, that water was pouring in her apartment and that the same tree landed on her boyfriend's new truck. Her landlord (who is our age) lives next door so he came over and once we discovered it was not safe for us to be out driving, we made sure she wasn't in any real danger, we gave her some ideas to contain the rain and prayed she'd be okay. Luckily they were OK - of course they had to deal with rain leaking in several places and there was that matter of glass everywhere and wondering what they would see when the sun rose and they could assess the damage to Justin's truck. But they were safe, had power and heat, and well, safe! MAJORLY inconvenienced, but safe!

In the morning, still in a haze from lack of sleep worrying about our DD, I called my mom and I was greeted with "I am soooooooooo cold". They had lost power the night before and the temps in their home had dropped to the 40's by morning. I called our son and he and his pregnant wife Ang were in the same boat. I turned on the news to learn just how devastating this storm was. Then we worked on a plan to get Ang and Brady here and then get my folks here. We had power, and at that time, cable as well. We had planned my dad's birthday celebration so we had extra food even. Jay got Ang and Brady here and took these pictures on his way over. This is his neighborhood.

Once Jay got here, he snapped this picture of a HUGE maple tree in our backyard near the brook. This picture was taken from the street across our lawn and does not show the true size of this tree. Thank goodness it snapped at the top half. If it came down at the root, so would have our roof. That's how tall this tree was. More of it came down shortly after Jay snapped this. It was still pouring at this time and the ice was still building up. I heard what sounded like an explosion and looked out and quite a bit more had cracked.
Then Jay and DH 9on his 56th birthday) took off for the usual 25 - 30 minute drive to my parents house to get them safely back here. It took well over an hour because of all the downed trees. This lovely dent is what it did to my dad's van (on his 87 th birthday if you missed my previous post). Thankfully it runs OK.

This is looking to the neighbor's yard. That's not snow on the ground. That is ice coating each blade of grass.

This is what they had to negotiate to get to into my parents yard and get them into Jay's SUV. You can see the power lines they had to avoid. Pretty scary!!

So for the last 36 hours we have had a house full. It has been crazy and chaotic to say the least. Because all our loved ones live locally, we no longer have enough beds for everyone - no one ever needs to sleep here! So with elderly and handicapped house guests, it was tricky. We did the best we could and hunkered down for the night. Oh and at some point yesterday, we lost Cable so no TV to keep their routine somewhat normal and no Internet save for the few minutes I squeaked out of David's work air card, and in our house that also means no house phones. And cell phone lines were jammed because others were in the same boat. My parents had a hard time understanding why the phones didn't work. Yes, crazy and chaotic.
Late last night, as they figured out the best sleeping solutions, my parents decided they wanted a hotel room for the next few days since they were told Monday was the very earliest they would have power but likely not even then. I right away got online and booked the last room within 30 miles with handicapped access. Luckily it is right in town! Good thing I did that at 11:30 last night because by this AM, you can't find a room anywhere. The hotel clerk today told me I was the last Internet reservation allowed in their system!! It isn't ideal but it is clean, warm, safe, 2 beds, cable TV, a refrig and microwave in the room and right next door to a Christmas Tree Shop!! I hope they get a good night's sleep tonight. I feel so bad for them - it's hard to go through this when you are young and able bodied but at 80 and 87, it is not easy. They are not used to the noise and chaos either and it is really hard on them. It gives me a whole new appreciation for what the victims of much worse disasters go through. I can't imagine the sensory overload one must suffer at a crowded shelter. Thanks goodness we have them, but I pray none of my loved ones never need one. Through this whole experience, I kept thinking, if worst came to worst, at least we could pack all of us up and drive a few hours south and hole up in some nice hotel somewhere. So many people don't have that option.
So tonight, with one set of kids safe and sound downstairs, the others safe and sound (but very exasperated and upset), and my folks safe and sound (but confused and tired), I too am very tired, my mouth is still sore (I am so ready to get the stitches out!) but so very thankful for SELCO's reliability and quick repair to out Internet, glad for the quiet in my home this evening and so very thankful we could be the literal light in the storm for our family. I am so thankful we always made the choice to live close to our roots so in times like this, we can work together. I am so proud of how my son has shown what a great dad he will be. He was the one who said "I'll get Gramma and Grampa over here somehow". I am so proud that Jen has handled her tough situation so well. And once again, I have to say my DH rocks! He has stepped up in so many ways the past 2 days. Poor guy, it certainly has been a birthday to remember!!
I am ready to hit the hay and see what tomorrow brings. I pray my parents get their power back, that Jen's landlord gets a tarp on the roof before the rain Monday night, and that Jay and Ang get their power back as well.
So until next time - hugs, Linda