Friday, November 20, 2015

Feeling powerless {no, seriously}

It's 10pm on a Wednesday night, and I'm on the couch in the living room of the house I grew up in, watching my 2 oldest kids poke and kick at each other on a lumpy futon mattress. Harper is in the only spare bedroom, so the kids and I are hunkered down in the living room, annoyed, irritated with each other, and all of us wishing we could be in our own beds, in our own rooms.

We can't be though, because our house lost power yesterday afternoon after a crazy windstorm, and it's too cold to sleep another night there in the dark, with no heat, no hot water, and minimal candles and flashlights. This storm had something like 70+ mph winds that knocked down hundreds of trees all over the city, knocking down power lines and poles, and severing gas lines. We're in the middle of the largest outage this area has ever seen, and power company is saying it could take at least 3-5 days to restore power to everyone. 5 days! With temperatures in the 20s overnight this week, I'm thankful to have somewhere else to go and take my children. I felt so horrible while rushing around the house this morning, trying to quickly pack up everything we would need for a night or two at grandma's house 25 miles away, listening to them repeatedly describe to me how cold their toes and noses and ears were. Not everyone gets to go some place warm tonight, and my heart aches for the thousands of people out there without power, some with small children, or elderly people with health problems, or with no way of getting the emergency supplies they need.

Lily was determined to get her homework done in the dark the first night.

Now fast forward another 2 days, and here we are on Friday in the same situation. 78 hours total, and power has been restored to maybe half of the people around here, but something like 80,000 people are still left in the dark and cold after almost 3 full days, including my home. Stop lights are still out and we passed by and were almost in quite a few accidents because no one freaking knows how a 4-way stop works, apparently. Some grocery stores have even run out of food (after losing power for so long and they had to throw away spoiled stuff).  Ayden and I braved the cold and made a quick run back home yesterday to get more clothes, stuff for Harper, and to assess our food situation in the fridge there. The house felt like a refrigerator itself! My thermostat said 46 degrees when I walked in, and my entire neighborhood looked like a ghost town. I said hello to a few neighbors I did see, some of whom were just stopping by quickly to grab more clothing and personal items too, while just a couple others were hunkered down with their generators running (lucky!) I know many, many people out there are still just roughing it with no heat and no electricity, and no way to cook food or preserve the food they already have. What else do you do if you have nowhere to go?

Camping out on my mom's neighbor's sofa bed. So thankful to the people who have helped us out!

Please pray for these people in Washington and Idaho. It's cold here. Like really, really cold! The temperature last night got down to 21 degrees and that seems to be about the norm for the next few days. My neighborhood consists of some really old, drafty homes, and most have no heat source at all right now. I pray that the elderly neighbors are being checked in on by friends or family, and that we have no more fatalities due to this widespread blackout. (2 people were killed by falling trees and I've heard that at least 2 more have died when their oxygen machines lost power the first night). I hope everyone is being extremely careful with their candles, camp stoves, and generators, and that these hard working utility workers can get our grid back up and running as soon as possible!

This is my brother's driveway. They watched the trees fall on the power lines and spark!

One more note: it's really crazy to see how just a wind storm can wipe out an entire city like this. All it took was about 300 fallen trees, and now we all feel completely helpless. When this is all over with I have to put together an emergency preparedness kit. My husband and I have been talking about it for years, and it's time to actually put those thoughts into motion. We need to be prepared for an emergency like this! Feeling powerless isn't something I enjoy- whether it's literally or figuratively.  

Have you ever been in an emergency situation? I'd love to hear your tips for surviving it.

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