Once When I Didn’t Have Electric…

I have everything I could possibly want.   But not necessarily everything I need.

This has been an enlightening three days.  (It’s now day four, but I wrote this yesterday.)

On Friday June 29th I walked away from my desk at 5:27 p.m. and went down the three flights of steps to leave work.  The windows on each landing as I went down showed me a world I hadn’t ever seen before.  The air was literally brown.

Brown air.

I got to the exit and was not sure what I was walking in to.  But I pushed open the doors and threw myself in to the brown-ness.  Immediately my eyes were being stung.  Hmmm.   The brown air was actually dirt and debris blowing away.  I took ten steps.  If that many.  Things started blowing off of my person and out of my lunch cooler.  I was chasing them down and thought maybe I’d be better off inside.  I turned around and went back inside.  There was a police officer who had run to the door to let me in.  He went outside to help someone else and when he returned he was busy trying to take the brown-ness out of his eyes.  For the half hour I stood there I picked rocks out of my hair and debris off of my skin.

One co-worker who had left had returned saying trees were coming down every where.

When it started to rain the brown air turned a more normal grey that I am use to with storms.  But the rain once it fell, if it ever actually made it to the ground, didn’t stay there.  The wind was blowing it in sheets and walls across the world in a spectacular display.

Finally it looked like it was going to give us a break.  A few of us dashed for our cars.

I’m pretty sure I made the right decision to return to the building.  Every road I took to get home was covered in trees and squashed cars.  I would go so far on one street to only have to turn another way to go a little bit on another street.  Fallen trees were making it a curious maze to get home.   I was within hundreds of feet of my house when I came upon the biggest tree I had seen yet, slaughtered by the wind.  A mighty warrior felled.  I backed the car up, there was one alley, I went down that road and then had to back up to park on the street in front of my house.

I got out of the car to be greeted by a neighbor’s house across the street.  It had the top half of a tree lying across it.  It was a little house.  But I was hoping it was was actually lying there and not in it.  As it turned out, the tree had punctured through the roof.  There was no way the family could really do anything about it until later when the storm dissipated to just plain old lightening.  We felt like storm wranglers by then.   When it was relatively safer you could hear chain saws and trucks working in every direction.  Trees being cut up and off of houses and cars.  Roads being cleared.   Later began the sporadic but way too often song of the emergency sirens.  They haven’t stopped yet.  I suspect there are a lot of heat related illness and injury happening.

It is hot.

Entire towns are without power.  Gas is being used for generators.  The world is quiet with out the hum of electric lines.  The sounds of weekend life are a little changed.  People are sitting in their yards, on their porches, talking.  Talking with one another and talking to their neighbors.  Once people started firing up generators the sounds became a little more muffled.

Today was the first chance to go out and about.  And I did.  Though I’m hot, and have no electric, I have comfort in knowing my kids are safe.  We are safe.  And we have people who help.

The only source of power we have is an electrical cord from our neighbor’s generator to our refrigerator.  And the Black and Decker power plug for the car.  We’re trying to keep our phones charged. But we don’t have any real phone service to speak of.  It’s sporadic.  At best.

I rode my bike around to check on things.  I rode to a friend’s house to say hi and check on them.  They’re good.  Without any more services  than we are.

I rode around and took some pictures.

I stayed close to home because it is insanely hot.  And the paths and streets are cluttered with broken limbs, bushes, debris from cutting up fallen trees.  I figured if I was within 2 miles of home or less I could walk back home if I didn’t want to fix a flat.

A little help from our friends.

Over the fence and through the yard to our little house it goes…. (sing this to “over the bridge and through the woods to grandma’s house we go…”)

One of the ‘smaller’ trees …

Sooooo close. Happy it missed for the most part.

😦 Grateful no one was in it.

One of the grade schools. Most trees had been removed by the time I got there.

Sadly this tree fell with accuracy.

Some of the trees bases were wider than I am tall.

When we didn’t have a place to sit with friends we created a make shift living room in our Honda Element. At least the air conditioner worked! And it didn’t really matter where we sat knowing people cared.

And then they returned with cold drinks, fresh sandwiches, and tolerated my picture taking so I can show the world some of the kindness we experienced.

I know that I have a lot.  I know I can technically live without electric.  The majority of humans who have spent their life spans on this earth did it, I can if I must.

But I really do like electricity.

But I’m very grateful as well for what I do have:  an undamaged house, even if a very hot house, a refrigerator full of food being kept cool because of the kindness of neighbors (there are electrical cords snaking all over town from streets with electric, to those without), water to wash off the grime of the heat, and friends who check on us.

Oh well, maybe electric isn’t what I need so much, I just want it.  Because when I didn’t have “it” I still seemed to have everything else.

Thank you for caring!

I hope for relief for those suffering the most, and safety for those working and sacrificing their own time to try and restore services to so many.