Monday, January 16, 2012

The Great Nor'easter - Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wow, this was a doozy.  We'd gotten snow a couple days before, which was really weird.  It wasn't bad enough to cause any problems, but it did stick around.  You can see it on my neighbors' garage rooftop and on the table on the deck (I was still painting outside at this point because fall was warm and gorgeous).

The snow started in the early afternoon, coming down fast and furious.  It quickly weighed down the trees and bushes. It was a wet, heavy snow.  Things were made worse because most of the leaves had not fallen yet, due to our warm autumn.  People said they heard cracking all night from trees and branches falling.  I did not, but I did hear thunder and saw lightning.  It was very windy as well.

Back yard.

We got about a foot.  It melted fairly  quickly, as the next day was beautiful.

From the living room window.

However the devastation was unbelievable and widespread.  In Connecticut it was mostly in the central part of the state.  Most people around here were out of power for at least five days.  It was the wild, wild west. My brother told me the storm really beat up his body.  He had many trees and branches fall, one blocking his garage.  He's on well and septic, so there was no water, no heat and no toilets.  He would bring water up from a brook down the road.  Finally he got a generator because my nephew is severely handicapped and needs a breathing machine at night for his lung problems.

The day after the storm I decided to go over to my sister's house.  She lives about a mile and a half from me. I got so scared I turned back.  There were downed wires, limbs and trees everywhere.  I tried again but the road to her house was blocked off.  Her neighbor's dog had been electrocuted by a downed wire early that morning. It was just scary. I wouldn't let my cats out until I got power.

It got really cold inside without heat.  I have gas for my stove and I'm on sewer so at least I could flush the toilet and take a shower.  I was able to take two showers with warm water, then it got cold.  It was like living in the era in which my house was built!  You had to do chores in the daylight hours.  Otherwise, you had to use candles.  I would come home and read under a quilt by candlelight.  We learned that tapers are better than glass jar candles due to less flickering.  Then I would go to bed with two quilts on me.  It was warm enough for sleeping, but getting out of bed and washing up for work was painful.  I heated water for a sponge bath on my gas stove.  We have it so easy in our time.

I hadn't heard from my boss, so I went in to work that Monday.  We had power.  Every day was an adventure trying to find roads that weren't blocked and intersections with signals working so there wasn't a traffic jam.  Restaurants with power were jammed.  The large mall nearby had power and was crammed with people trying to stay warm and entertain their kids (school was cancelled for a week or two depending on location).  Then there was the Great Gas Shortage. I was low on gas and there were few stations with power.  Ergo, long lines for gas, like in the 1970's.  Stores were also running out of food.  Afterwards, there were shortages at places like McDonald's because they had to throw out so much food.

I hadn't seen a power company truck until mid-week.  I figured on my little, obscure street it would take a long time to get power back but mine went out on Saturday night around 8 p.m. and returned on Thursday at around 6:45 p.m.  There were power crews from all over the country helping out.  My sister got hers back the next night, and my mother the night after that.  The chief executive officer of Connecticut Light & Power resigned afterwards.

After the storm there were piles of branches and trees at curbs everywhere.  My huge pile was just picked up last week by the town.  I still hear the sound of chain saws.  The weather's been warm and sunny since then with a couple days of really cold weather.  Awesome!  It's great to be rid of 2011--year of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, an earthquake and October Nor'easter!

This proved to be an eye opener at my lack of preparation for emergencies.  Next time I'll have food, gas, batteries (stores were running out of them), matches and candles.  It could have been a lot worse.  It could have been in the winter, with pipes freezing and bursting and snow and ice to contend with on the roads, as well as trees, wires and branches.  Overall, I think there were some deaths due to carbon monoxide and an electrocution or two, but I didn't hear about people dying due to inability to get to the hospital.  I did hear that one person had to be taken  from a truck driven across neighbors' lawns to an ambulance, though.

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