Sunday, July 29, 2012

Once Upon a Time (Part 8)

Though it was only on the national news for about five minutes, West Virginia and much of Appalachia went through a difficult patch thanks to a series of violent thunderstorms that pretty much took out the power grid of much of the region one month ago.

The first wave of storms came through on the evening of June 29. The day had been blazing hot, not to mention humid. The scribe's goodly wife at work an hour away in Asscrackton, while the scribe was headed out for an evening at the theatre. (Truth be told, the scribe, being also an actor, was in a play at the local theatre and was scheduled for his penultimate performance that evening.)

Before leaving, the scribe noted a warning on his phone-of-smartness that a severe thunderstorm warning was in effect for the area that night. He left his dogs in his castle and departed. Fifteen minutes into the theatrical production, the power flickered a bit went out briefly. Five minutes later, it went out entirely (ironically, at the exact moment a character on stage said his previously scripted line of "Damn, my light!") bathing the place in emergency back up lighting.

It was decided to wait a while to see if the power would come back, but after fifteen more minutes the performance was cancelled and everyone told to go home.

As the scribe exited the theatre, he could see a tremendous black cloud in the western sky, in the direction of his castle. It was not yet raining. There wasn’t even really any wind. He drove on along the down town streets and onto the highway leading to his neighborhood with still no real weather problems. As he crested the top of that hill and got a good look at the valley beyond, he could see the storm that black cloud was producing and realized he might very well be in trouble.
A wall of wind and rain hit his vehicel. Through the windshield wipers, he could see shit flying through the air. And not little shit, like leaves, but bigger shit, like branches. The smaller trees near the road were flapping wildly to the point that he began to wonder if he was in a tornado. There were no funnel clouds that he could see, but the winds were definitely much stronger than those of your average thunderstorm.

As he reached the main road running to his neighborhood, he saw there were trees down. Most of them were smaller, but there was one larger, older trees that had been split by the wind, leaving one half standing and one half fallen. This was some serious weather!

In his neighborhood, there were more fallen limbs and even trees--mostly smaller trees, but some were dangerously close to the road or to their castles. There were leaves and small branches everywhere, creating a thin carpet in yards and along the street. The lawn furniture and trash cans of some of his neighbors had left their lawns to visit the lawns of other neighbors or, indeed, the road itself.

When he reached the side street that led directly up the hill to his castle, the road was blocked by a fallen tree at the foot of his nearest neighbor’s driveway. It was not a large tree, and he was able to drive around it through his other neighbor's yard, but it was blocking the road.

Once at his castle, the scribe could see that the kayak's he and his goodly wife had left in their yard following a kayaking trip a couple of days before were still present and accounted for. But they might not be for long if he couldn’t get them inside. He parked, not bothering to try his garage door opener, knowing it would not work without power. He ran to the side door of the castle and unlocked it and was immediately greeted by worried dogs. He dashed past them and down the laundry hall into the garage, pulling the door behind so they couldn’t follow. He yanked on the garage door release rope and then lifted the door manually before running back to the car. He pulled it into the garage and pulled the door closed.

Next he descended the Joker-striped wallpaper spiral staircase into the dim basement where he stumbled back along the length of the house toward the light of the basement's exterior doors. These he flung wide before running out into the yard, dragging the kayaks one by one back into the basement. During this, he kept listening for the tell tale freight train sound of a tornado, but heard only the rush of storm wind.

After locking up the basement, he returned upstairs and then through the back door onto the deck, where he had to rescue deck furniture cushions and plants from where they had been blown by the wind.

The back yard was a mess. A very large limb and several smaller ones had fallen from the ancient oak at the edge of the yard. The yard itself was scattered with more limbs and leaves and some of the decorative bushes looked in danger of taking flight. The winds were still blowing and a light rain falling, but most of the worst of it seemed to be over. The scribe stood in the back door and watched the lighting play beyond the mountains to the west.

Taking further assessment of the situation, the scribe noted that they had no power and from the look of the fallen trees in the neighborhood alone, power would be a day or two from being restored to the area. (What he didn't know then was that a massive tree had fallen on a nearby power substation, severing the wires for a great deal of the area.) The good news was that he still had a cell signal, including 3G, and still had running water. But who knew how long that would last?

The scribe returned to the basement and retrieved the stored water containers they'd purchased when they had well troubles back in Borderland. These included a 5 qt dispenser, a 2 gallon Culligan rectangular jug, and a giant 6 gallon plastic water cube. He filled them up.

After this, he located their supply of candles and oil lamps, though he couldn’t find actual
lamp oil for them and only one or two had any in them.

When the wife came home, she said the roads were nuts between Asscrackton and Tri-Metro. They’d lost power at her clinic, so she was able to leave right at closing time since she couldn’t do any of her computer-charting. Her next question, though, sent chills down the scribe's spine.

“How much gas do you have in your car?”

“Oh, shit,” he said, because he knew exactly how much gas he had. "Not quite a quarter tank." The scribe mentally kicked himself, for he'd been driving around all day, making mental notes to buy gas because he knew he was going to be doing an early morning drive to the airport for his flight to Mississippi in only a day.

“Okay,” she said. “How much gas do we have in the lawn mower?” The goodly wife then explained that while she’d had enough gas to get home and probably had enough gas to get back to Asscrackton in the morning, she did not have enough gas to then get back home afterward. Power was out all over Asscrackton and had been completely out in Tri-Metro as she’d driven through it minutes before. They would have to come up with some gas somehow.


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