The Heat:It’s Friday and it’s hot.We’re talking dangerous-104-degree-energy-sucking-record-breaking-heat.I feel listless and unmotivated.
The Storm:Friday night the Derecho arrives.The eerie sound of strong winds awakens me and soon the power goes out. I lie awake watching as the constant lightning creates dancing light patterns on my wall.
The Aftermath:Saturday morning I begin to realize the enormity of the storm’s damage.As I walk around the neighborhood, I see tree after tree that succumbed to the wind.Power lines lay on the street like spaghetti noodles.
The Reality:By Saturday afternoon I’m feeling helpless and isolated.Nothing is open—not the pool, the movie theater, the gas station.No phone lines.No cell phone service.Over one million people are without power-- without AC-- and the heat wave continues.The food in the refrigerator begins to thaw but there is no ice anywhere.We grill some of the thawed food and invite neighbors over to sip luke-warm beer and eat in the stifling heat.
The Adventure:On Sunday the kids set up the tent in our basement where it is cooler.Nonplussed by the lack of power, they discover their forgotten, rarely-used toys.Soon they are chatting happily while immersed in Legos, Play Doh, board games, card games and crafts.I have to admit, it is nice to have a vacation from the normal chores—no way to do laundry or vacuum and no sense grocery shopping!I’m reading on the couch wearing a T-shirt and flip flops, with air-dried hair and no makeup since it would just sweat off anyway.
The Lifeline: Sunday afternoon the generator arrives.We have a friend named Steve.Steve has a generator.When his power came back on, Steve thought we might like to use his generator.Oh, would we!Thank you, Steve!We run a long, orange extension cord up to the kitchen window and now the generator is powering my refrigerator with a happy hum.The generator is charging the cell phonesand, this is very important, I can plug in the coffee pot.I have the fleeting urge to plug in the vacuum cleaner too, but I resist.
The Community:All around me are signs of hope. Crews from around the country have arrived to help with clean up and repairs.It is Monday now and we hear reports of neighbors nearby (just across Great Falls!) who have lights.The shopping center near our house reopens and the mall has power too.I stop by our local coffee shop and the normally quiet line is buzzing with chatter—strangers talking and comparing notes about people sharing, helping and being kind.
The Long Haul: It is Tuesday, our 5th day without power, and still we wait.Tonight 85% of Northern Virginia’s power outages have been repaired and I know the trucks will soon arrive in our neighborhood.I’m craving a “normal” routine…whatever that is.
The End:In the end, it is the Canadians who save us.The crew from Ontario replaced our broken pole this afternoon, Wednesday, July 4.Today I run the dishwasher and relish my independence from dishpan hands.Today I tackle laundry and celebrate my independence from the mountain of dirty clothes that accumulated.Our power is back.Time to celebrate!
Happy Fourth of July!
The Postscript:It’s never really the end, is it?Today is Saturday, July 7 and although our electricity is restored, we are still without our phone, cable and Internet service.It’s the Internet I miss the most.Luckily my friend Debbie has graciously opened “Debbie’s Internet Café” in my honor.Sitting at her dining room table, I check a week’s worth of backlogged email and update my blog.We survived the heat wave, the storm and the power outages.What a week.