Thursday, December 07, 2006

There's no place like home

I was never really a big fan of the movie, THE WIZARD OF OZ, but after the last week I was really feeling Dorothy's famous quote.

Last Thursday night we were hit with a giant icestorm. When I posted last Friday morning I didn't realize the gravity of the situation. But when the National Guard knocks on your door you realize pretty quickly that your blog post isn't really that important.

We knew that we were going to be getting some snow, just a couple of inches, and the newscasters were making such a HUGE deal out of it. I figured that it was just because it had been in the seventies at the beginning of the week and this was our first snow. And to be honest they've been wrong so many times in the past I don't really pay much attention to them anymore. My family had plans to travel to Rockford, which is about four hours away, on Saturday, so I, being the lazy housewife that I am, figured I would put off doing laundry until Friday. Ditto with the dishes.

Thursday night comes and to be honest with two toddlers running around I didn't even look outside. I went about my business getting everyone cozy in their jammies and had just sat down in my recliner with my laptop to get some work down. Wrong. The power went off before my tush hit the leather. My three year old came screaming out of his room and we scurried around seeking flashlights. We found several. Batteries were another story. Luckily, I had some candles. Then we started hearing the cracking. I couldn't figure out what it was at first. Then I went to our front window and watched a giant tree branch come crashing down on our neighbor's car. I don't like him so I laughed. But then they all started coming down. I bundled the kids up and closed off the house, gathering everyone in the living room.

My mom called and wanted to rent a hotel room. I figured that we would just plunk down $120 and then their power would go out and we would be screwed. So for the first night we stayed put. I figured the power would surely be back on tomorrow. I was SO wrong.

When my husband came home later that night he said that he could barely get into our village. So many trees and wires had fallen that half the streets were blocked off. He said that things were even worse in town. This was the moment when I started getting a little worried. In preparation of our trip I had been trying to use up all of the groceries. We were running low on everything. I had no clean underwear. The dishes were starting to smell. Needless to say, I couldn't have been more unprepared for this natural disaster.

By the next afternoon it was only 55 degrees in our house and I knew the kids couldn't stay here any longer, even though they were running around with no socks on insisting they weren't cold while I was wearing my husband's long underwear and like twenty blankets. We piled in my jeep and headed to my mom's house.

Don't get me wrong. I love my mommy. But most of the time we are the human equivalent of oil and water. We just don't mix. And if someone would have told me a week ago that I would be spending five whole days living with her, I would have smacked them across the face. I mean let's face it people, we move out for a reason.

But they had a generator, which means heat and TV, no Internet, but I guess a girl can't be too picky. So it was me, hubby, our 2 hopped up on sugar offspring, my mom, and step-dad. I know that some of you are probably thinking that this whole scenario sounds great. Break out the books and boardgames, right? Yeah, I wish. Please remember that I have a one year old and a three year old and limited diapers and groceries. It was like Infant Survivor.

But honestly, it wasn't that bad. There was absolutely no hair pulling, screaming, or other bad behavior, and the kids were good too. :) I am just thankful that I had family I could go to because those previously mentioned hotel rooms were completely booked for miles. Our village and the closest town have a population of about 80,000 and at one time, 65,000 were without power.

So, the moral to my story is that I will try my best to always be prepared. And I hope you will be too. What natural disasters have you lived through?




Marley Gibson said...

Oh Steph! You poor thing...but great to see you and your family came out of it okay.

I've been in a couple of hurricanes (Eloise and Opal) which were pretty horrendous (nothing like Katrina, of course) and wrecked my parents' farm.

We had a tornado go over our apartment in college. Sounded like an Amtrak engine driving right over us. My roommate at the time was from New Jersey and not used to southern storm systems. When the power went out, she had the nerve to call the power company and complain! AND...she stood outside on the porch smoking a cigarette before the tornado came over. What an idiot.

Here in Boston, we get some nasty N'oreasters that knock out the power, kill the trains and generally deep freezes the area. We've had ice storms like the one you're talking about, but it's been several years.

Definitely having that "emergency kit" you can fall back on is a great thing: tuna, fruit cocktail, water, batteries, flashlights, matches, candles, etc.

Glad you're through it!!

Marley = )

TJ Brown said...

I am glad you all are okay. We had a windstorm that knocked out power for three days. I absolutely hated it. Gah.

TinaFerraro said...

Steph, while I smiled at your name of "Infant Surviror," I'm sorry you had to go through all that, and I'm glad you're all okay!

When my kids were that age, we endured the 1994 Northridge earthquake. None of us were hurt, but between the physical damage, the aftershocks, being without power and water--and the fact we were out of coffee, it was trying on my nerves, to say the least.

My husband and I now have a little joke going, every time the coffee gets low. He cocks an eyebrow at me and one of us RUNS to the store. Like that is somehow going to prevent the next big quake. Otherwise, we really do keep the supplies up-to-date because you just never know.

Anyway, so glad that that experience is behind you!


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad your power is back, Steph!

I live about 45 miles from Steph, but amazingly never lost power. Some in my town did; actually, people even a couple of blocks over lost power while ours stayed on. I can attest to what she said, though, in that hardly anyone in this uber-hip, uber-urban town were prepared.

At the hotel I work at, we had electricity workers and linemen staying there for almost two weeks who came from as far away as Colorado to help us get power restored. There are 100,000 people in the twin cities where I live, but thousands more live in tiny villages, towns, and suburbs within a 50-mile radius. Some of these residents just had power returned YESTERDAY, 13 days after the ice storm/snowstorm.

I always say I'm prepared. And I was lucky that my family (husband, 10-year-old son, 5-year-old daughter, cat) and I never had to go without power or heat. But this made me realize that MY idea of "prepared" and the actual meaning of "prepared" are very different. (My son, in fact, states that living on cheese slices, water, and stale bread does not constitute a meal.) But that's what happens when you live on a side street that the City conveniently doesn't see the need to plow--you can't leave your house for 3 days.

Steph, I'm so glad you and your family are okay! If something like that ever happens again, if you need to you can come stay with me. :) Our families can go crazy together!

There was a small (very, very small) earthquake in Illinois once, back when I was about 10 years old. Not scary at all; kind of cool, actually.

And two years ago a small tornado went over Illinois State University here in town. Very small, and not exciting at all.

Really, though, I'd prefer those over the ice and snow that snaps trees and power lines in half!!

Anonymous said...

ooh, we had a big snow/ice storm 13 years ago this January. I remember because I was separated from Lee for over a week, and the next month we go engaged- couldn't take the separation, I guess.

I remember how awful it was being away from home- we were at my aunt's house, and I didn't have any idea of the insanity of two little ones or diaper rationing! Glad you made it through, Steph!

Young Adult Authors said...

OMG, Steph! I'm so glad you're okay. I've lived through many floods, windstorms and the like, but never an ice storm. Creepy! Sound like you had a good family bonding experience, though. :)

Anonymous said...

Glad you're okay!

I've been in a couple of ice storms but not for a few years; once I remember packing up and going to my grandparents' house in the middle of winter, as they got their power back almost immediately (their house is on the same circuit or whatever you call it as the hospital and a nursing home, so they always get it back quickly), and ours didn't come back on for about a week.

More recently, there were floods here a couple of years ago. A big chunk of the city was under several feet of water, and the city water supply was all screwed up by that. There was a lot of damage, but luckily where I live is far enough away from the river that we were okay.