This time of year reminds me of when Hurricane Irene hit our town three summers ago. Four months after two tornadoes struck, and four days after an earthquake, we prepared for Irene. Since we’re more than a hundred miles inland, I wasn’t worried, thinking we would just get some wind and rain.
My husband, Rick, was more concerned, but we were both fairly relaxed when we arose that Saturday morning to lots of wind. Our cable was already out, but we made muffins and put in a DVD, making the most of the day. Our larger Siamese, Choco, watched out the window as branches and leaves flew around the yard, and he seemed to enjoy it.
We continued our late August “snow day” (the day after Rick’s birthday) until the power started blinking that afternoon. Expecting the storm to move past us at any time, I thought the power would stay on. But after blinking, going off, then coming back on, about 3:30 it quit for good. Choco seemed to take the storm more seriously after that, and so did I. With no Internet or television, and no light for reading, the day became dull rather quickly.
I kept hoping the hurricane would go on its way and things would return to normal, but it was quite a while before that happened. The rain and wind continued all day, but our main concern was nightfall. Grateful that we didn’t need heat and the days were long, we gathered candles and flashlights in preparation for our evening.
Many homes were without power in our town, and we listened to generators hum loudly as the sun set. Trying not to envy our neighbors who had electricity, we sat around and talked, going to bed around 8:30–a record for us. Since Rick worried that a tree in our yard might fall on our bedroom, we moved our mattress into the den, much to our cats’ delight, and tried to sleep. Mocha, our smaller Siamese, always concerned about every- one, checked on us periodically to make sure we were okay, and we listened to the wind howl, thinking it would stop any moment.
We awoke with the sun, grateful to have light, even though it was about 6:30, and grateful that Irene finally left after sitting on us for approximately 24 hours. Limbs & debris covered our yard. With no electricity, we knew our hot water would run out, so I washed my hair, not knowing when I’d be able to do it again.
Our phone service came back for a little while, then it was out for nearly a week. During the day I picked up branches and stacked them next to the road, and it wasn’t long before the pile was almost as tall as I am. I worked each day until exhausted, then I’d come in and collapse onto the mattress on the floor. We were grateful we didn’t lose any trees, since several were down on our street.
Choco gave me a break during that week. Instead of screaming for food all day, he was content with what I gave him. I think the cats understood our situation, and they might have watched me through the window as I worked.
On the fifth day we called a number to find out when our power might be restored. To our chagrin, we were told late Saturday afternoon. It was only Wednesday! Discouraged, we thought about going to a motel the next day so we could shower with hot water.
To help pass the time that evening, we tried listening to a book on tape while we and our cats huddled together with a little light. We hadn’t run the tape long, however, when it started slowing down, eventually sliding out of the cassette. So much for that idea. Next we made shadow puppets on the walls. Talk about desperation! But we had fun with it and, as usual, went to bed early.
We continued to sleep on our mattress in the den, since Rick worried about the tree in the front yard, and I was in a deep sleep when I seemed to be dreaming about a bright light and Rick in front of me. Suddenly I realized the lights were on! It was three-thirty a.m., but our electricity was working! Wonderful!
Our cats seemed to appreciate it too. Choco jumped about joyfully, and Mocha joined in the celebration. It was a couple of days before we got our cable back, and it took a while for us to get everything working properly, including our phone and Internet. Our town started functioning normally before too long, although we had trees and debris piled in yards and next to the road for months afterward, and we still see signs of the hurricane. We were just so glad an experience we don’t want to repeat was over.