Sunday, July 1, 2012

Adventures in Pregnancy - 26hrs Without Electricity

You may have heard of the deadly storms that came through Virginia on Friday night.  They hit us at 9pm, and there was no warning.  Storms do not sneak up on us here in the mountains. It usually takes a significant buildup of noisy dark clouds for a storm to make it over the mountains to hit us.  Often, we'll see thunderheads (very large billowing clouds) from 2pm in the afternoon and it won't begin to storm until 5 or 7pm.  Though I later learned the alert system was activated and the authorities did the best they could to warn us, we're just not used to having to rely on those sources. 

Having no idea what was about to happen, I got ds ready for bed and laid down with him in his 2nd floor bedroom.  Every window in the house was open except for the ones in his room because he has our only window AC unit.  I played solitaire on my phone while he played with his fingers and then, BANG, a wall of wind hit the house.  There's no other way to describe it. It was completely still, and then we were in a wind storm.  The house shook and the windows vibrated.  The wind grew stronger and stronger, the power flickered, the bedroom door blew open and then slammed shut as the bed even started shaking.  While mountain tornados are very unlikely, they are possible and I started to wonder if that's what was happening.  I held ds tight as it continued to strengthen, and then it was calm.  I heard a pouring rain and saw lightning. DH soon appeared at the doorway and asked me if we were OK. Amazingly, DS was now too tired to be distracted even by all this noise. I asked DH what in the world was going on, and he said we were in a heck of the storm. While he was standing there, the wind hit a second time. The banging, shaking, and slamming all happened again.  The power turned off and on three times and then stayed off after the gust left us. We continued to get gusts of wind, but none as strong as these first two.  I later learned they were each 90mph gusts.

Since we had never lost power more than a few hours and it wasn't even 10 yet, I got out the portable dvd player we usually use to entertain ds on car trips and suggested DH and I watch a movie.  We started one, but I didn't last and soon headed up to bed. Without the ceiling or circulating fan, my 95 degree bedroom was a sauna, and despite having just gotten through a wind storm the air was completely still.  There was no breeze at all. At midnight I moved downstairs to our uncomfortable couch where it was at least a little cooler, and at 1:30 moved back to the sauna to finally fall alseep. DS awoke due to the heat at 4am, and experienced complete darkness for the first time in his life.  My little man totally flipped out.  DH usually handles night time wakeups, but there was really no consoling him since we couldn't turn the lights back on.  He fell asleep in our bed at 6am, and when he woke up at 7:30 I had a terrible case of the grumps. Still no power, still hot, no sleep, and I knew I had to work 3rd shift that night.

Since there would be no morning cartoons for ds I got us both dressed fairly quickly and intended to go out for a big fast food breakfast. We don't get fast food often, but the situation seemed to call for it. I stepped outside my dark, but normal house and saw the damage for the first time. Leaves, sticks and twigs were covering every square inch of every surface.  Trees and branches were everywhere, even healthy branches had been snapped off. I heard my neighbors out and about, and when we went over to chat we saw their enormous cherry tree uprooted and fallen next to their house.  They felt so lucky it had fallen without damaging the house, but had a teenage son on a mountain camping trip and were anxious for his return.  He came back while we were talking and joined his friends in quite an exaggerated and exciting tale of their storm survival.

The first let down of the day was finding all the fast food places closed, along with Wal-mart and our neighborhood grocery store.  We did find a grocery store that was open, but they were on generators and wouldn't sell any refridgerated or frozen food.  We went in anyway and bought potato chips and grahm crackers.  While the non functioning traffic lights hadn't been a problem on our way through town, traffic had increased later in the morning and it seemed everyone had forgotten how to drive.  We were happy to get home and report our adventures to the neighbors who were just leaving to go out on their own storm related errands.  We ended up having oranges, strawberries, and crackers for breakfast, and then since it was still cooler in the shade than it was in our hot house we collected sticks and did other fun outdoor 2yr old activities until a little after 12, when I figured we'd have junk food and then ds would take a nap. Yes on the junk food, no on the nap.  By then his room was over 90 degrees and though we sweated it out for 30 minutes he couldn't sleep. By this point I was really miserable from the heat and the power outage was starting to really interfere with ds's happiness.  I regretted wasting the charged DVD player the previous night, and I struggled to keep him happy despite his exhaustion until 2:30 when he finally was able to fall asleep in his room. 
There's no telling how hot it was in there by then.
No way of telling since thermostat doesn't go up that high!

I knew he was going to wake up miserable, and he did. At 4pm he woke up crying endlessly. I'm sure from being overheated and dehydrated but he wouldn't drink anything. Thankfully one of my friends in the next town over invited us to enjoy her AC. As soon as ds got in the air conditioned car his mood improved, and the rest of the day went OK, except for the constant unbearable heat. The high temp ended up being around 100 degrees outside, and I know it was higher than that in our house. Dh put our son to bed at 9 since I had to get ready for work, and he decided to take him on a car ride to put him to sleep since it was still so hot upstairs. I was happy to discover we had a little bit of hot water left, so I could take a nice lukewarm shower before work. Just after midnight he texted me that the power was back. What a relief!

No one got hurt.  We didn't suffer any property damage besides some fridge items going bad, and it ended up nothing more than a good story.  I'll always be able to say I went over 26hrs without electricity while pregnant and caring for a 2yr old.  I'll forever have sympathy for anyone going through a long power outage.  It's rough!

No comments:

Post a Comment