Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thank You God For Hot Water!

The power and internet and phone are all back up after being out for 30 hours or so. What a miracle it is to be able to take a shower in hot water in a warm house. Life is Good.

Although, we did quite well in the interim. This is a picture of dinner last night with candles. It was cozy. I could get used to that - if we could have cooked and bathed, too.

Here is the background to this story. It rained and was windy all day Thursday, nothing unusual. We went to pick up Daughter of and Miss T from the airport at 10pm. Cranky went into meet them and I waited in the cell phone lot. The plane was about 1/2 hour late and as I waited the wind was tremendous - it made the car shake wildly and the sign near me shake in the wind. I thought how nice it was to be in a warm safe car and attributed the wind to being close to the ocean. Daughter of arrived and I picked them up. She said it was the worst landing ever, the plane fishtailed as it descended because of the high winds. We later learned that the wind at Logan was 60 mph and, nearer home, at Beverly, was 67 mph. On the Beaufort Scale this is classed as a Violent Storm, Hurricane winds start at 73 mph.

We drove home, noting that the driving was a little easier than coming because the wind and rain had let up. But, soon after we hit the final stretch, route 1A, we realized all the lights were out on all the houses and stores and so were the traffic signals. Cranky started to worry about the sump pumps, which are all that stand between us and an indoor, subterranean pool, with appliances and furnaces etc. floating in it. We drove on and suddenly the car ahead of us stopped. So we stopped trying to figure out what was happening. After a bit we realized there was a tree across the entire road. A car came from the opposite direction and was able to drive around the treetop by driving off the road. The car in front of us did the same and so did we. We started to realize how much damage had been done because we had to drive slowly to avoid large branches all along the way. We got through Hamilton and on the other side, there was a huge tree completely across the road, so the Police were diverting traffic.

A conversation with other people there who were also trying to get to Ipswich was kind of scary and we started to wonder if it would be possible for us to get home at all. Route 1 and Topsfield Roads were impassable, as well as Mill Road, and all the back way to the west of Hamilton. So we all trooped off looking for a back route to the East. At 1.7 miles from home we encountered another tree, tried another route and found another tree. Finally, we backtracked and were able to get to Essex, and thence, home. But Heartbreak Road was blocked on one side and Argilla (the only other path home) was nearly blocked as well - we drove on someone's lawn to get around the fallen tree. By this time it was nearly 1:30am. It took us 2 hours to go the last 5 miles. We later discovered that the worst of the storm was between 10 and 10:30, so we were out at the worst possible time.

Once home, we discovered ankle deep water in the basement, which was actually good news because it meant the water hadn't gotten up to the elevated level of the washer/dryer/freezer/ or furnace. We have a gasoline generator, which The COG immediately turned on. We found some candles and flashlights and, finally, got to bed. Not that we slept very well because we were afraid the generator was going to run out of gas at any moment. But it took us through the night, and at about 6 am, I went out in search of gas and coffee.

Which took a long time because, although most of the major roads were passable (some of them down to one lane because they were still clearing trees) the signals were out and all the gas stations and Dunkin Donuts etc. were dark. However, I did finally find gas and coffee. Spent the afternoon at the Mall, came home to eat by candlelight (having bought warm chicken and lettuce for dinner).

Early to bed - I think I went at 7:30 - and at 2am we woke up. I think that the lights going on must have woken us.

We heard that 1 million people in New England were without power or phone, 100,000 of them in the towns around us. The paper said it was a 'storm surge', which I guess means that it was not predictable.

So, now we are back to normal.

So lovely having Daughter of and Miss T here.


Vivi said...

You had texted me about the situation (and others, perhaps) but as a result I was looking online for news. Curiously, aside from a report about 70 mph winds in Scituate -- on the south shore, not the north -- there was nothing about your situation. (NYC was contending with snow, and that sucked up all the media attention, I suppose, the media being in NYC.) So, 1 million people without power, and there's no national notice, at least at a level that I could find in an admittedly brief google search.

On another note, your story about being prevented from getting home due to all the trees, and the power outages, etc -- I was reminded of the beginning of the mid-century satire "Adrift in a Boneyard", in which a single carload of people is mysteriously anointed to be the only people not instantly struck dead during a traffic jam on the expressway into New York City. The first major adventure is trying to get -anywhere - all the roads are blocked by cars full of dead people.

In other words -- the things we take for granted, such as hot water and lighting -- include simply being able to travel from one point to another.

Vivi said...

Gosh, re-reading my comment above: it sounds like "Adrift in a Boneyard" is a "Night of the Living Dead"-like gory story, or an early "The Road". It isn't at all -- in fact, maybe all those bodies just evaporate, allowing the book to get on to its main point (I certainly don't remember any gore). The book is light and satirical and more about the arrogance of the individual (in accepting that of course, we will be the ones who are chosen to survive). I'm sure it has topical references to the political situation of 1947 when it was written, that eluded me when I read it 60 years later.

The Bride said...

Funnily enough, I was also thinking of Adrift in a Boneyard while we were driving around trying to get home.
I know. It was so strange - even the local news had very little about it. The Boston Globe had a small article about it, which didn't mention the scope of the problem. But the Olympics, the weather in New York, the Greek Economy, a big fire that burned down a block of empty buildings in New Hampshire (no one even injured), all made the news. Very annoying to be so neglected.

While I was driving around trying to find a place that was open for gas and hot coffee, I searched for a radio station that had some information. None of the local MA stations had more than a brief mention of high winds. None of them mentioned that 100,000 people on the North Shore had no power or phones. I found that out only by listening to New Hampshire and Maine radio, which was full of stories about it, but mostly as it related to New Hampshire and Maine.

I think the storm must have clipped the North Shore and then gone on to wreak further destruction along coasts north of us. Apparently if it doesn't hit Boston it doesn't count as Massachusetts news (she said bitterly).

Standing in line at Dunkin Donuts, we were all talking about this. Everyone wanted some information (like when we were likely to have power and be able to travel down big roads) and no one could find anything about it.