Sunday, November 06, 2011
The Freak Snow Storm of New England
The snow storm that cancelled Halloween was the worst thing I've yet to live through.
On 10/28 - was the Halloween party for my church that I organized. We had about 200 people which was actually really good! There were a lot of parties going on that night. Who knew that our party would be the ONLY Halloween celebration our parish children would have. The next day the snow started falling at 12:45 and never stopped. Our trees were still fully loaded with fall colored leaves but instead of leaf peeping on that weekend, people struggled with no power and, if you were a person like me with a well -- no water. And, since we "bundled" our cable service
because it was SUCH a good deal, we lost phones too. We lost everything.
Add to that the fact that my cell phone chose that weekend to not hold a charge. I'd made one phone call and it went from three bars of power to one. Also, I could not even access 911. My husband went to see if he could reach the center of town, to get information on shelter, water and power. It takes 10 minutes to reach the center under normal conditions. Three HOURS later, he still wasn't home. And, the sun was setting - how do you look for someone caught under a tree or off the road, in need of help, with no lights? No power? and NO way to call for help?? Because that is when I realized just how vulnerable I was - when I couldn't even get through to 911. A neighbor was driving by as we attempted to walk down the street towards an acquaintance's home - despite the fact that there was a huge tree suspended above us on the electrical wires - I still wanted to reach someone with a working cell phone. The neighbor rolled down his window and when I explained my worries, he gave me his charger that sticks into the outlet in cars. It's used for items that plug into wall outlets- like laptops and phone re-chargers. He was going to bring it to his father-in-law who was without power for his phone but let me have it first. That was really awesome of him!!
Forty five minutes later, my husband drives up - wondering why our kids are crying, why I'm so upset. Hello! -- a ten minute drive and he's gone for Four HOURS?
oh. well - um... I drove around then decided to see how your parents were faring so I went to see them.
God love him for thinking of them but he in no way ever told me he "might" do that. Going to the center of town to get information is NOT driving over a mountain passing through 5 towns, crossing a river and getting on a highway. Not to mention dodging all the downed trees and LIVE power lines. No wonder he was gone four hours but HE SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME! He knew my phone wasnt' working. He knew we had no means of communication. Did that stop him? NoooOOooo - he can "handle" himself, there was no reason to worry.
Worry my ass- try frantic. Try wanting, needing to call 911 because I didn't know what else to do because trees were still dropping and the scope of the damage was just being realized. Add then finding out that I couldn't even reach 911!!
Oh, yeah, it'll be a long time before I forget this storm.
I mean, we've had tornadoes, an earthquake, Hurricane Irene, hail storms and now this freak October snow storm. And 2011 isn't over yet!
Ok then - back to the fun.
I buried my freezer contents in containers in snow. Faithfully I piled more snow on them every day. The temperature was rising and in the fifties so there was melting. Today, seven days later, I unbury them, even had to chip them out, and 75% of my food defrosted. I had to throw them all out. Oh, I kept the ground turkey...because there were still ice crystals in the packaging so that means I can cook them all up and refreeze as cooked meat. But the fish? gone. the cheeses? gone. the lamb? gone. the yogurts? gone. the clams? gone.
Opened up the refrigerator to see if anything survived. My kids almost puked. My dh's eyes watered and they left ME to clean it all out. Took me 2 1/2 hours to deodorize the whole thing. Something did more than get warm in there - it re-died. Thing is, I had tried to clean out and save what I could but left things I thought would be "safe". There is no such thing when it comes to 7 days without electricity.
Our wood stove pipe leaked smoke. I have asthma. We think the chimney cleaners either didn't put the pipe all the way back into the back of our wood stove OR, they never cleaned that part. I ended up sleeping in what amounts to a cellar, on a futon that has no mattress in temperatures that started out in the 50's but steadily dropped into the upper 40's - in Fahrenheit. Not fun. But, because the room was on a lower floor, the smoke didn't reach it so I could breathe. You kind of need to do that, you know?
Oh, and I got a second job. Yay! - I was supposed to start on Halloween but the trick of it was- no power- no phone, roads blocked, no way to shower - Ha - I wasn't going anywhere. So, no work. Gee, I hope they understood.
Yep, the town my new job is in had 100% loss of power. Mine only had about 90%. They understood because they were in the same boat. The most fascinating thing? I now work for an insurance adjuster who specializes in weather related claims. Gee - maybe that's why I was hired? ::SNORT:: -- after the tornado, and then Irene and the hail storms - they have claims coming out the wazoo - add in this storm and every day is an adventure. Most months they get between 30-40 claims... when I went in for my first day of work on Wednesday - bad hair and wrinkled clothes and all - they were getting 80 a DAY!!! ---If I can make it through this? You can be sure I can handle this job. Talk about crash course learning.
And, I'm still loving my other job in the Conservation office. I like my boss, I think she's quite the character and I enjoy the very nature of what the office stands for.
And get this... these are the first jobs I've had in decades that I can dress casual! No high heels, no suits - jeans, sneakers and comfort is the rule. How'd I get so lucky? I'm truly blessed. Even after all we've been though and all the self doubt that started to creep in the longer it took to find a job - I still consider myself blessed.
All the people I care for, friends and family alike, made it though this latest natural disaster unharmed - certainly they were inconvenienced, some in a huge way - but we all made it through to sing , dance and give Thanks and group hugs the day the lights came back on.
Oh! and my Conservation boss? I was supposed to work on Tuesday, so I got dressed and got the kids ready. I figured, if the town hall was closed- we'd head to the town's shelter for a warm meal and to recharge their PSPs and my failing phone. I was just trying to make my wet hair look passable when there was a hard knocking on my back door. It was my BOSS- Hey! Guess what? There's no work today! --- Wow - have you EVER had a boss do that? I haven't. Not until now.
My life is certainly changing. New experiences, new co-workers, new responsibilities and new challenges to meet and overcome. I'm hoping my kids see by example what it takes to make it in life, and how to deal with adversity. Of course they did spend 4 days and 3 nights at my parents who had power a half a week earlier than we did. LOL- so, they had 1/2 a lesson. **VBG**
So, today - we got all our electrical life back and spent a small fortune restocking my fridge and freezer with perishables. Cooked the turkey that was in the freezer - it was big and needed 4 days to defrost anyway. I think I was out of practice at cooking. Poor turkey re-died. I mutated it to sawdust and rubber. But hey! That's what gravy and ketchup are for, right?
Hope you had a MUCH better Halloween than I did!!!
OH! DID YOU NOTICE THE CAR IN THE TOP PICTURE? Yes, there was a car stuck there. They must have stopped for the fallen tree in front of them and ANOTHER tree fell right behind them- trapping them in the height of the storm! Talk about scary!!!