Friday, July 27, 2012

lights out!

We found ourselves in a similar situation a few weeks ago, when we came home from Arizona.
We got home late June 25th, and were struck with a derecho storm on the 29th, which wiped out our power for nearly a whole week.

Unfortunately for us, we are not allergic to dairy. And had plenty of it in our fridge.

We were really happy to be home to Lynchburg, even though it was hard to say bye to our families.
Luna had really missed us.

She got kinda possessive.

I had a lot of work to make up that week, so I had to stay late a couple nights.
Dusty even brought me a picnic one night, complete with a homemade meal and Sonic drinks.
It was so sweet. He used the super-adorable picnic set my grandma got me for our wedding.

Things were looking up. Until.... SeƱor Derecho. 

This is how it went down.

I'm not gonna lie, I have no idea what to do in severe weather situations. I'd be useless in a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, you name it. I only know the desert, and the desert knows me, and I don't really have much interest in getting acquainted with things like derechos.
But it happens.

My reaction was close to, I would imagine, Dorothy's.

A lot of Oz-like images came to mind.
Are we going to be swept away in this? Will we land on a witch with red heels? 
Will we end up in Never Never Land?
Oh wait. That's Peter Pan.
The point is, fictional standards for large storms and mysterious weather are all I've got.

Okay - back it up.

It was Friday night, and Dusty and I were hanging out.
We had decided to make a spontaneous fun-run to Kroger for some tubs of ice cream.
I was experiencing pre-buyer's guilt for the ice cream, but I had a feeling I was gonna eat it anyway, and enjoy it immensely.
We were both playing games on our phones. We kept saying, "Okay, let's go."
Then 10 more minutes would go by. "Dusty, come on. Get up. Let's go. It's getting late."
Then 10 more minutes would go by.
By the time we left, it was probably 45 minutes later than we had originally planned.

We drove to the store, contemplating ice cream flavors, and noticing the dark clear sky.
As we drove into the parking lot, Dusty pointed to the distant horizon and said, "Oh hey, lightening!"

Once inside, we walked straight to the ice cream aisle. We didn't need to go to the store for anything else, so it was just a quick stop.
We spent some time mulling over flavor choices, when the lights began to flicker pretty intensely.
Our first thought was that the store was closing, so we tried to speed things up and grab our ice cream.

Side note: Dusty and I hardly ever share flavors. If we go get ice cream, we almost always end up with 2 cartons. If we go get frozen yogurt, we never share. I like the weirder flavors. Blueberry, pecan praline, tart with lots of fruit or toffee, and coffee flavors. He usually goes for the chocolate on chocolate with chocolate chunks, chocolate candies and a side of chocolate with chocolate syrup.

With our 2 cartons in hand, we hurried to the cash register. We paid, and headed to the exit.
That's when it hit us -- we saw how wet the floor was near the automatic doors, and when we looked out the window, we knew -- it was the apocalypse.

Thankfully it wasn't, but it really could have been. We both were totally shocked. It was pouring rain, and there were leaves and branches and bags and small creatures flying through the air.
Panicky but determined to make it home, we ran to the car, me squealing all the way. The wind was pretty intense, and we were both relieved when the car doors slammed shut and we were safe(er) inside.

Looking around at the terror, I had a flashback to a Godzilla movie. "What did you see?"

(I told you, fiction is my only reference.)

Dusty drove, calming me down. I started praying out loud, just for everyone that was out driving like us, and for our own safety in getting home. It was not a fun drive home. It was windy and rainy and there were trees down on almost every road, with debris flying around and covering the ground.

We turned the corner to the road that leads to our street, and came up to this bad boy:

That's how it was all over the city.
Driving down this particular lane was freaking me out, because it was lined with trees and I was pretty afraid of one falling on us as we drove. Dusty sped through. We were maybe half a mile from home at this point.

We breathed a huge sigh of relief as we turned onto our street.
But then we realized all of the cars in the parking lot of the Elks club...

...and the giant power line that was covering the entire entrance to our apartment complex.

That car was stuck inside.
And we were stuck outside.

We parked in the Elks parking lot (directly in the middle, far away from any other power lines and all trees), and sat there in the car for a few minutes. I think I started panicking a little bit.
What were we gonna do? How were we gonna get home? Where were we gonna stay?
Of course, all calls to 911 or the power company or anything else were totally busy. It was city-wide.

The rain had died down at this point, so after some careful deliberation, we decided to make a run for it.
We had to go into a person's driveway and across their lawn to avoid all of the wires from the powerline.
It was so dark and wet, and I already have a phobia of grass out here, with all of its hidden amphibians and insects. So we ran. With our ice cream.

A silver lining that we didn't realize until much later was that we could have been trapped inside the complex, like a lot of other people. But God bless that craving for ice cream (and our distracting phone games).

With power out all over the city, we decided to make the best of it. First, we needed to eat all of our ice cream as soon as possible. (This is when we started cursing our different ice cream tastes).
Then, we decided to light a bunch of candles and play board games.

Apparently Dusty has a head lamp. Who knew?

The lesson I learned from Dusty having a headlamp is that you should always be prepared.
And also, sometimes that random crap you really want or don't want to get rid of actually does come in handy!
(Thousands of hoarders all over the world nod enthusiastically)

After a very restless night of sleep, we realized we needed to figure out what to do.
In our experience, power outages only last a day or two, tops. But rumors were quickly spreading that power would be out until Saturday. Over a week after the storm.
Our house was getting warm fast! It was a hot week.

But despite the loom and gloom of the next few days, we were incredibly blessed.
Our friends Allison and Greg were out of town for the whole summer, and had asked us to stop in and feed their plants every once in a while. We went to check on their house on Saturday, and they had power!
With their invitation, we were able to stay there and keep cool while we waited on our power to come back on.

There was a lot of walking back and forth, trying to empty our fridge of all of our groceries (it was full, since we had just gone shopping) to take everything over to the Earls and set up camp. Our friend Erica joined us, since she also was out of power and her husband was out of town.
There was also the small matter of Dusty's parents coming into town on Monday...

They didn't even clear the power line from our road until Sunday night. Kind of ridiculous.

The funniest part of this whole experience was trying to go to Wal-Mart.
(We were thinking of trying to get a battery-operated fan for Luna. We felt bad for abandoning her.)
I know, you guys. Obviously in hindsight we should have known it would be a mad house.
If somethings truly disastrous ever does happen to the human race, we'll all be absolutely useless.
The back part of Wal-Mart was littered with people and completely devoid of all merchandise. Survival kits, gas lanterns, anything camping-related, it was all gone. Random items were strewn about the aisles...
Obviously Wal-Mart is stop #1 for the truly panicked.

After a few days, we had to just accept that Dusty's parents would be staying with us on air mattresses at our friend's house...
But just in case, we went home on Sunday night and cleaned our apartment in the heat, getting the guest room ready and hoping that they'd be able to stay at our own apartment at least one night during their visit.
The upstairs had to be 90 degrees. I didn't even mind the heater-less cold shower afterwards.

Despite all these things, Dusty, Erica and I had a really fun weekend together.
We lounged around at our temporary house, playing games and watching Indiana Jones. We shared the fridge to store our groceries, and made meals together. (And finished our ice cream). While we were stressed about the crazy events, we really enjoyed our little weekend adventure. We commiserated. We went out to IHOP one day, and just tried to make the best of things!

Dusty's parents were so great when they arrived Monday night. They didn't complain and were totally up for the adventure. We made it work!
They got us some easy breakfasts, to make the week more manageable.
And Rhonda and I went out for some much-needed pampering after work one night. :)

But the best part of our week was most definitely Tuesday night, when we drove home to see the warm golden lights across the complex. It was an American miracle!
Just in time for the 4th of July.

What a sweet sight.
We had left our front porch light on, so we could know immediately if we had power back.
So that little light above the red door on that white apartment is the sign of true happiness.

We spent one last night over at our friend's house, then cleared out and moved back home on July 4th. Four days and five nights, and we were finally able to be home!
We were fortunate - a large portion of Lynchburg actually did have to wait until Saturday to get their power back.

And that, my friends, is the story of the derecho. May he never come knocking on your door.

In love,

1 comment:

  1. It was a true adventure, Caitlin. With a lot of fun packed into those days. And the moral of the story is twofold: always always always succumb to the need for ice cream. And second, keep your headlamp because you never know when it will come in handy!