Tropical Storm Irene

The major 2011 hurricane Irene got downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit Vermont, Quebec and Atlantic Canada but before heading north it hit all the coastal states from North Carolina to Maine, including Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania. It is still too early to assess all the damages in some states but Vermont was hit hard and many roads and bridges have been destroyed. Lots of farmers have also lost everything to the floods. This is such a sad event. We love Vermont and its people and we hope everyone who has been hit by this finds the strength AND the money to get up and start again. We have been spared but a lot of people can’t say so.

I can’t believe some people said on forums that this storm was nothing and that it was all just media hype! Thousands of people lost everything and there are 45 deaths attributed to Irene so far. I am glad most people took this storm seriously and  my heart goes to all who were afflicted by this storm one way or another.

I think one is never too prepared for a storm. The good thing about hurricanes is that we have warnings days ahead giving everybody enough time to get ready. Whenever I hear about sustained or wind gusts of more than 80km per hour, I get the emergency kit ready and prepare myself for a power outage. I always go through my options in case of an emergency. I make sure I have everything I need. The day before the storm I recharge the cameras, the batteries and the mp3 players. I get the cats’ cage ready to go with a plastic shoebox of toys, food, and litter and waste bags.

I put the birdfeeders in the shed and one chickadee wasn’t too happy and came screaming at my window! It’s true! I basically removed everything that could be blown by the wind and I took the hanging fuchsias down. Inside, I made lots of ice and  prepared a big cooler packed with a lunch for the next day along with some drinks and snacks so I wouldn’t need to open the fridge. I made two thermoses of hot water for hot drinks and instant soups. I made a quick stop at the grocery store to by some newspapers, two bags of chips and a box of cookies. I know, I am not supposed to eat that stuff but I was really glad I had it when I ate it! I am very lucky to say it was actually one of the highlights of Irene for me!

The winds were to arrive around 9pm in Moncton, New Brunswick and they were to blow for a good 12 hours and they did. I was really happy I was prepared because indeed, when I woke up the next morning, the power was out. My first big power outage since we’ve been here. It felt strange not to have the sound of electricity and the running appliances like the fridge, the dehumidifier and the computers. The cats seemed to like this sudden silence; that is until somebody had  to start their power generator next door and it was so loud! It brought me back to the endless winter snow storms nightmare with all the snow blowers! No!! It must be very handy to have a generator but it is so loud and stinky. On top of that some other neighbor thought it was a great time to power wash and mow the lawn and so all that noise was driving me nuts! Earlier, while almost everybody was gone to work and it was all nice and quiet, I tried to imagine myself in a time before electricity and wondered what I would have done that day and I did some chores like sweeping and dusting. If I knew how to knit I probably would have knitted something in memory of Irene!

After cleaning, I did a few crossword puzzles and some Sudoku and I started to write a journal. At 8:15, when the light got dimmer, I lit some candles. We have a lot of candles around the house but we don’t light them anymore and it felt nice. Every half hour or so, I would listen to the crank radio. I learned there was a big tree that feel on a near by street and it was closed to traffic.  In Moncton, many street lights were broken and people didn’t stop like they’re supposed when this happens. After the neighbor’s generator started I used my mp3 player with the big headphones to block the noise and it worked well. Earlier, I was able to speak to Dami at noon; he went to the NB power website and was able to find that the power would be back on at approximately 11:30pm. It would be a long day. I was on the phone with my mother when the batteries died and she got all worried and called the phone company who told her there was no problem with the line and that the problem was my phone.

I went to bed at the usual time but when I woke up in the middle of the night, there was still no power. When I woke up that morning at 6:30, the fridge was working and it looked like everything stayed frozen in the freezer. Dami told me later I was lucky to have the power back so early because the last time he had checked, it was postponed to 2:30pm.

The things we take for granted in these times. We go about everyday, caught up in our routine without taking the time to really appreciate what we have and it’s when time seems to stop that reality really kicks in. One thing we are missing for the next storm is a phone that doesn’t require batteries. Even the Lithium batteries didn’t last long in the phone so next time I won’t rely on those. Sometimes cellular phones don’t even work so it’s good to have the land line option if it works. I would also add a big pad of paper in the emergency kit because I need to write down my thoughts.