Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A visit from Ike

From this graphic, it didn't look like we would suffer any of Ike's vengeance. However, this turned out not to be true, as Ike came through here as well! We didn't get any rain, but we did get hurricane force winds... ranging from 69-84 mph. Sunday started out nicely. It was warm, the sun was peeking through. It had been breezy all day on Saturday, and we knew that Sunday was supposed to be blustery as well. Blustery is a vast understatement! Because there was no rain, and it was so warm and sunny... the winds grew from blustery to terrifying.

Russell had to go into work, and I was at home, getting ready to do my typical Sunday errands. I could hear the wind outside, but I started hearing things hitting the roof, and cracking sounds. At one point, our neighbor from across the street walked through our yard, looking up. We have HUGE trees in our back yard, which is really a hill. I was really worried that one had come down. So I went outside and looked…. Nothing was amiss at that point. I went inside, and got my things and decided to head out. I noticed a cable truck parked across the street as I backed out our drive, so I realized that the neighbors must have been without power. Driving out of our neighborhood, I saw more power trucks, and I suddenly became aware that the conditions were a lot worse than what I had originally thought. Russell called to find out if everything was ok. His servers at work had rebooted twice, making things difficult for him. He was in “crunch time” on a major project that was due to go live first thing Monday morning, and needless to say, a little agitated.

The first item on my agenda was to get dog food… we were completely out, and the dogs had had a rather skimpy breakfast. Three stores and a trip to an ATM later, I had a bag of food in my car. My hair had gotten stuck in the car window and the car door twice, and dealing with a shopping cart in major winds was not an easy task. At this point, I was really un-nerved. My sister called, and reported that my Mother’s nursing home was without power and there were trees down everywhere. So I decided not to go there. I tried to stay on major roadways because driving around was like driving in a warzone. Trees and limbs were falling… and there were power lines dangling dangerously putting all traffic in harm’s way. What stunned me the most was the number of kids riding around on their bikes… without helmets on? I realize that many parents don’t keep tabs on where their kids are, but it was too dangerous for me to be out, and I was in an SUV, so it was outrageous that any parent would let their child ride around outside. Bicycle helmets would have been prudent, but I didn’t see any of those either.

I realized that I had about an hour until Mass started at Immaculate Conception, so I began looking for a drive through. Every place I went had lines wrapped around the building and extended out on to the street. At first, I couldn’t understand why they were all so crowded. I finally came to a McDonald’s and decided to go inside. It was very busy and took a few minutes to get my meal. At this point, I realized that people were without power, and looking for an early dinner. I chatted with Russell while I ate, and waited for him to decide what he was going to do. He still had a lot of work to do, so he decided to stay and persevere, and I would call him after Mass.

I drove to church and discovered that it was on limited power. The Priest asked that everyone sit in one section. There were 4 over head lights working, and they had candles everywhere. It was simply beautiful. The readings were read from the ambo, and then the Priest read the Gospel and gave his Homily standing amongst the congregation. And then, he gathered everyone together and asked us to come up onto the Altar for the next part of Mass. I can’t tell you how special and how moving it was. It was incredibly intimate, and despite the lack of electrical power, it was lighter in that church than any electrical power could give. We could hear sirens wailing as the sped by, and it was apparent that the winds were still raging. Yet we were safe inside, blanketed in God’s Light.

After Mass, I went to my car, and realized that the winds had calmed significantly. I began to wonder how things were at home. Traffic lights were out all over. It was just after 7pm and beginning to get dark. I called Russell to let him know I was on my way. Trees were down all over, blocking traffic at times. It was alarming and I grew more anxious. He came out to get in the car, and I told him of my concerns. We decided that it would be best for me to head home before it was completely dark. I wanted to feed and walk the dogs, and get candles and flashlights organized if needed. And so I began the trip home. Some places had power, some didn’t. The Taco Bell was swamped. The closer I got to home, the more concerned I was. Yet the message from Church stayed with me. I knew that it would all be ok. Pulling in to our neighborhood, I could see that some places had light. I pulled in our driveway which was strewn with branches, acorns and walnuts. There were some large limbs down, but everything else looked ok. I carried the food into the house and held my breath as I flipped the light switch.

By the grace of God, we had power. I hurried to get the dogs out… fed them and called Russell to report. He was relieved to hear that we were all ok. He had had a horrible time getting dinner. He went to three eateries on Brown Street, which is close to campus. They were running out of bread and other things. He ended up with “the worst burger every” from Burger King. He ended up driving home around midnight. He tried to find some restaurants that were open. The ones that were open were busy or out of food. He came on home, and we both slept like logs.
Monday morning brought daylight. Driving in to work gave evidence to how lucky we were. And phone calls later in the day proved this even more.

Along with my Mother, Russell's Mother was also without power. She needs oxygen, and was running out, so we went out at lunch and got her several bottles of oxygen and took them to her after work. It’s now two days later, and she is still without power. She ended up going to my brother in-law’s yesterday because it’s just better for her not to be alone.

I have cousins whose cars have been crunched, and some people have major damage to their homes caused by falling limbs and trees. We lost a couple of big limbs but no big trees, thank God. It's been a challenge, that's for sure. We know now what it feels like to be in a hurricane.... sort of. You can't find ice anywhere. Batteries and flashlights are hard to come by, and gas stations are running out of gas. A lot of businesses have been closed. Some people who are on wells also have no plumbing. On campus, the academic buildings have power, as do the dorms. The student neighborhood however has been without, and students are getting a little grumpy! I don't blame them one bit!!!

All in the all, entire “storm" lasted for almost 5-6 hours. Yet, it’s still affecting so many, two days later.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

I totally agree that the weather was very strange and I'm so grateful that our family is all safe and presevering. :)