The power went out on Monday night.
Actually, it was a little more exciting than that. We had a huge thunderstorm, including what I originally thought was a tornado, but was probably actually a plow wind. We spent a fair bit of Monday night in the basement, hoping that none of the trees came down on the house or car, and that the house and car would still be where we left them when the wind subsided. I won’t recount the terrified mad rush to the basement after the wind took on that freight train tenor, nor the discovery of the bed being soaked from sheets of rain blown horizontally through the bedroom window. We slept (eventually, uneasily) in the living room, me and Baby M in the lazyboy and Hubby on the couch, and woke up at sunrise to a swath of destruction which included a couple of saplings down on the west side of the house and the power lines, sudden long views to the north, east, and south, due to almost all of the big trees being down, and a significant accumulation of standing water in the low spots on the property. Yuck.
With no power and no phone, we decided to take a drive around the neighborhood. That was when we realized we’d been really, really lucky. A couple of neighbors lost their roofs, and most had wrecked grain bins strewn around their yards. There were big trees down on houses and garages and vehicles. Over half our neighbors could not get out of their laneways, due to trees having fallen across their roads, and nobody had any phone service or power. It is worth noting here that the average age of our neighbors is well over 65; one couple down the road is in their 90’s. There are a few younger families, but not many. We are probably the youngest couple here by a good ten years.
Fortunately, these older neighbors remember how to cope without power, have a real sense of community, and are a tough bunch. It wasn’t long before people were out with 4×4’s and tractors dragging trees off each others’ lanes, hooking up generators, and patching houses. Hubby went over to one hard-hit place to help patch the roof, and took a 5-gallon bottle of water with him, as they did not have any to drink – everyone here is on a well or a cistern with an electric pump, you see. About half of the people here have generators, though, so potable water was locally available, at least.
We fared just fine, here. I dug out the crank radio, and found a station that was on the air. We have a collection of battery-operated and crank flashlights, as well as some old oil lamps, though we did not need them much, as sunset is after 9pm right now. We made coffee on the Coleman camp stove, with bottled water that I insist on keeping on hand, and drank it with sweetened condensed milk – kind of a treat, actually! When I saw how nasty the storm looked as it was rolling in, I got Hubby to bring in all the empty buckets around the place and fill them, in case the power went out (thank goodness!), so we had water for the livestock; we also collected plenty of rainwater for cleaning. We ate ham sandwiches (trying to use up the ham and cheese that was not going to keep without refrigeration), instant noodles with added vegetables, grilled cheese sandwiches, and lots of fruit. We lazed about (it was hot and muggy) and read lots. On day two or three, I heated some water, which we dippered out of a five gallon bucket to each have a ‘shower’. We were careful not to open the freezers, and while we lost a couple buckets of ice cream and a bunch of (previously) frozen fruit and vegetables, almost all of the meat was still frozen solid, even four days later, thank goodness. The fruit and veg went to the chickens and goats, so it wasn’t a complete waste, anyhow.
I wouldn’t volunteer to do that again, but it’s good to know we can cope. I was extremely glad for the crank flashlights and especially the radio – the radio announced it would be at least 24 hours before power could be restored, and might be several days, which allowed us to plan ahead and conserve our water; it was nice to have some contact with the rest of the world, even when the phone was down. I do wish we had some convenient way of getting water from the cistern without electricity, though; that would have made life easier, especially with the baby – even being able to hand-wash some outfits and receiving blankets would have been nice, but we didn’t dare use that much water when we did not know how long we’d be without power. Still, we did okay, and were able to eat hot meals and keep basically clean and entertained, plus having some extra to share with neighbors who did not have the necessities.
Yet again, basic preparedness paid off…