Monday, September 05, 2011

Good-bye, Irene

We survived!!! I was woken up last Saturday by the sound of wind whistling around the house. It gradually increased until it was an unrelenting howl until around noon which lasted until about six PM. The wind didn't go down completely until after one AM. I spent most of the day on the sofa. In the morning I was surfing the internet, waiting for the power to go out--and let me tell you, THAT'S a weird feeling, knowing that the power is going to go out and just waiting for your big exit from civilization. I managed to get a hot meal around 12:30 and then *blink* *blink* power gone. For six days. After the power went out, the biggest problem was leakage. The wind was beating so hard against the door upstairs that it was actually forcing water through the door knob, through the frame, and then down into the ductwork below. Downstairs I had a bucket brigade going. There wasn't a lot of rain (as compared to, say, Vermont), but the wind was unreal. After awhile, I sort of got used to it, and spent the afternoon sewing, listening to a book on my computer.

Some videos I took during the storm:

Jeff came home about six, during the lull of what had been the eye--and about thirty minutes before VDOT closed the James River Bridge due to high winds. We had some cold bean soup for supper (wind was too high to even attempt a fire outside) and some other non-perishable rations, like cookies, and then I finally dragged Kizzy outside for the first time all day. Jeff and I watched our neighbor's dock get torn up. The James was at high tide around this time, and the waves were approximately five feet above high tide. They completely lifted away the decking on the dock next door to us, and slammed some of the planks into the dock on our property. (Our dock is really just steps down to the beach, with nothing sticking out into the water) We stood on our dock, watching waves pound the cliff and feeling the shuddering motion as planks and rafts of decking slammed into our piers, and then I decided it was time to retreat back to the safe cave of our living room.

However, as far as damage went, we did pretty well. Mostly it was tree limbs and pine cones (and by "pine cones" I mean every pine come in a three-county radius is lying in our yard) but we did have a few major branches come down. One was neatly resting on a power line. The willow tree out front is completely shattered. Apparently this is the survival mechanism for willow trees, for Jeff assures me that the same thing happened during Isabel, and the tree came back. Cleaning up later that week, we found willow leaves wrapped around the bushes by the mailbox. Further down the road the power lines were completely broken, like guitar strings. Right at the end of our street, a tree had completely fallen across the road, taken out a power line pole, broken all the lines, and sent a transistor scattering into a corn field. Honestly, the biggest shock was that the power came back on as soon as it did!

Sunday we spent cleaning up and practising our outdoor cooking, a skill with which we happily have a lot of experience. Monday I got a surprise when I went into work and found that Williamsburg had no power. I got to spend time with the military guys on Monday, and Tuesday I just came home and cleaned up. We have a brush pile in our front yard that's taller than me now, and after working one afternoon with his uncle, Jeff wants a chainsaw. Luckily the weather has been a dream. High 70s, 60s at night, so leaving the house open to the elements has not been a problem, nor has sleeping. The biggest challenge was finding ice for our perishables--and even that was solved on Monday when I stopped at Harris Teeter. They were giving ice away! I will definitely shop there in future!

In a way, it was nice, the way power outages always are. We were prepared, mentally, the weather cooperated, the food didn't spoil and we ate up most of the stuff in our freezer without a problem. (Strawberries picked in 2010 that moved with me in July last year didn't make it, however) Jeff and I spent our evenings cooking, walking the dog, and going to bed early, since it's hard to read by paraffin-lamp light. We talked a lot, just hung out with each other. When I finally went back to work on Wednesday I missed him like the dickens, and swore that we were going to turn off TV and internet after eight o'clock in future. Even the mosquitos disappeared for a few days.

But now, the power's back on, work is back in full swing, and we're getting ready for a big reenactment this weekend. So, without further ado, a few post-storm pics:

The other neighbor's dock. His deck was about two feet higher than the one that was washed away, but, as you can see, ended up being covered in driftwood and decking material.

My tomato plants. They were nearly blown over, and after receiving a healthy dose of salty James River spray, I think they may be done for the season. But you never know. They are hearty plants all right.

The tree what came down on our power line. Previously, I'd called the power company about having a line resting on this branch, but they refused to do anything about it because the tree was on "private property." Guess what? They cut the branch down (and more!) on Thursday.

Our stove. The bricks are eighteenth-century bricks, leftovers from houses washed into the James by Isabel. We pick out a half-dozen or so whenever we go down to the waterside. Jeff build a little oven and we cooked chicken Sunday night after the storm. Better eating than anything we'd had in awhile!

After the storm...all I could think about was the line from Secret Garden: "Strangely quiet, but now the storm simply rests to strike again...."


One more thing...

I also want to let my loyal readers know that Dad took a fall last Friday. He fell down the stairs at home, due to a lack of coordination because of recent health concerns. He is okay, but spent a few days in ICU and is now in a regular hospital room. I know when he finds out I'm writing about him on here he'll be as embarrassed as the dickens, but this is my space, and that's what's happening in my life. And maybe he'll start listening to his doctors and take his pills now. Email me if you'd like more information--mom is asking for no visitors yet--and keep us all in your prayers.