Monday, August 29, 2011

Good Riddance, Irene

OK, so I was wrong on that last hopeful comment about being able to finish my hurricane writeup Sunday morning. Moments after hitting the "publish" button on my last 9:30pm update Saturday night, we lost power. And didn't get it back until 3:30am last night, exactly 30 hours later. But I am jumping ahead.

9:45pm (Sat) - Power has gone out and it has been off for a few minutes, so it will probably be off for a while. The kids are tired, so we decide to make sure we have our flashlights nearby and just go to bed for the evening. Hopefully the power will be restored during the night. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that we have lost power, but the timing is a little surprising in that it is raining hard, but the wind isn't that bad. It seems like a simple rainstorm at this point, not anything worse.

10:30pm (Sat) - Musical beds is over, and we have ended up with Julia and I in my bed, and Amp and Grace in Grace's twin bed. Grace is going to try to "camp" on the floor. Good luck to Amp... Lying in bed waiting to drift off to sleep, the sound of the storm isn't alarming at all. I have heard much stronger winds buffeting the side of the house than this.

6:00am (Sun) - I wake up after having slept soundly and mostly uninterrupted (other than a stray knee or elbow) for over 7 hours. The storm never woke me once. I think I actually slept better than I have been recently. Odd. The power is still out but I know the time from my cell phone. I get out of bed and walk around the house looking out the windows to see what is going on outside. It is blustery and overcast, but the winds aren't too strong, and the rain has lessened to a light wind-blown drizzle. I can see that the wind has shifted from west to east, the opposite of yesterday, so that means the hurricane has passed and is north of us now. I go back to bed for a while to think and doze.

7:30am (Sun) - Julia wakes up so we get out of bed for good. I walk around looking out windows again in the better daylight to try to see if it looks like we have damage outside. A quick inspection makes me think we got away unscathed. That is encouraging, because I was worried about our one remaining Bradford Pear tree, expecting to lose it. We lost its twin in the spring, and knowing how fragile they are, wind gusts like we were told to expect would almost certainly have damaged this one in its exposed location. A few minutes later Amp comes down, looks out a different window, and tells me that we did lose a big chunk off the back of it. Oh well.

8:00am (Sun) - Taking stock of the situation, we are in pretty good shape. The remnants of the storm are tapering off significantly. We have running water (and therefore also toilets). We have a gas range that we can light with a match to warm or cook with. We have a gas hot water heater, so we have hot showers. And we have a propane grill outside for cooking also. All things considered, we are dealing with inconvenience and not a problem. A text from Dave does tell us that all non-emergency road traffic in Delaware is banned, so no driving south.

11:30am (Sun) - 14 hours with no power. By now it is just breezy and overcast. All but the most scattered trailing edge of the storm seems to be gone. After a lazy morning around the house the kids are bored and want to see what it looks like outside, so the three of us go for a drive. There is small debris everywhere, and a good scattering of tree limbs. Only occasionally do we see a whole tree down. The power outage is widespread in the area. Concordville Town Center, Glen Eagle, Brinton Lakes and all the surrounding residential neighborhoods are out. Some areas, such as south across Smithbridge Road are fine. A little pocket around the Painter's Crossing intersection is fine also, and the kids talk me into a McDonalds lunch. Being one of the few places open, it is a zoo.

2:30pm (Sun) - The kids are bored again, we are 17 hours into the blackout, and the kids and I decide to go for another drive. We head north up 202 and find that once you get to Dilworthtown everything is fine (mostly). We stop at a crowded Starbucks for a drink and a snack before driving around for another hour. The Granite Run Mall's anchor stores are open but the mall itself is closed.

5:30pm (Sun) - Amp is ready to get out of the house now too and see what things look like, so we decide to head over to Target and do a little shopping (assuming that it is open). Getting there, we find a strange sight. The store is open, but running on minimal backup power. The store is mostly dark, and can only take cash payments. The kids think shopping in the dark is hilarious, so we wander around for a while and get a few things.

6:30pm (Sun) - 21 hours and the power is still out. The weather is cool but beautiful. We need to open the fridge and get some things out to cook for dinner. They will go bad if we don't. So we cook more than we need, have the neighbors over again, and have a nice dinner on our deck, first by fading light and then by candlelight. The girls all think that Anthony and I wearing camping headlamps is a riot, but they work very well. Good food, good friends, good wine and Norah Jones on a battery powered ipod dock. Once again, things could be much worse. But it is getting a little old.

10:00pm (Sun) - 24 hours has come and gone. We go to bed in the same arrangement as last night. Please have power by morning...

3:30am (Mon) - Exactly 30 hours after power went out, I am wakened when the lights go on in my bedroom. I make a quick circuit of the house turning off things that came back on with the power. I can't resist checking phone, tv and internet to make sure our Fios service is working, and it is. Hoping that everything stays on, I go back to sleep.

Aftermath: What an odd storm. We lost power for longer than I have ever been without power despite the fact that what we could see and feel of the storm was a complete dud compared to what we were told to expect. We routinely get thunderstorms way worse than that. But it sure did have an effect...

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