Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dealing with a hurricane.

WARNING: Alarmingly long post ahead!  You have been warned!

Have any of you been in a hurricane before?  If you haven't, let me tell you - it's terrifying.  You can't just blow it off, and think, "Oh we deal with wind speeds like that all the time."  No.  No. 

I worked Thursday night, tracking the progress of Hurricane Irene as she blew up the east coast. updated every three hours, and I followed it religiously.  The other nurse I was working with would recount story after story of several hurricanes she had survived, including Hurricane Isabel in 2003, a category 2 hurricane.  She told me of trying to get to her mother's house to save her, only to have to turn around two minutes later due to trees snapping every few seconds.  Together, we found several websites stating that this hurricane could be just as bad or worse than Isabel.  I cannot express how terrified I truly was.  There were several paths that the hurricane could take, with the scariest one being within 40 miles of Richmond.  They were projecting that, worst-case-scenario, we would be without power for a week.

I left work at 0715 and drove the 40 minutes home and went to the grocery store.  Based on what I knew about people in the east coast (they freak out at the littlest snow-storm and raid the grocery stores), I knew that I had to get there early so I could get the essentials.  At 0810 in the morning, most of the bottled water was already gone.  I was, fortunately, able to get 15 gallons of water (enough for one gallon per person per day).  Food though...I was at a loss.  I called my mom in a panic, and she was gracious enough to give me advice on what to buy: ice, canned dinner, canned veggies, applesauce, granola bars, etc.  I was so grateful for her!  She emailed me tons of advice on hurricane preparation.  I got home from the grocery store and slept until 3. 

Then I broke down to the MedStud because I was trying to express my terror to him, and how serious this storm could turn out to be.  Literally bawling my eyes out.  He said that he was just as worried as I was.  I headed to Target, Wal-Mart, and REI to pick up essentials.  The stores were MADHOUSES.  Madness I tell you!  Never go to the store the day before a hurricane.  Always go two days before!  That entire night, I prepared everything in case we needed to evacuate.  Clothes, paper, propane stove, 15 gallons of water, enough food for a week, medical supplies, medications, blankets, hygiene items, flashlights, candles, radio, matches, cash, and important documents.  It was all by the door so we could take it to the car in case the storm took a turn for the worse.

Friday night we went to bed and awoke to torrential rain.  Sheets and sheets of rain.  Power was still on, so we went to the gym, came home and got ready, ate lunch, and then the power went out at 1230.  So it began.  The weather continued to get worse.  The rain never stopped.  The wind never stopped.  The wind was bending the trees over and pounding our house.  At 1600 our flower pot was entirely full of water (over 8 inches).  I just read that winds in our county got upwards of 71 miles per hour.  The worst winds in our state were 83 miles per hour. 

Can I express how B.O.R.E.D. I was without the Internet?  Holy cow.  I love to read, but man!  I get tired of reading!  We couldn't do anything!  I had the MedStud print his notes out (because he had a test scheduled for Monday - what a great weekend, right?) so he could study.  But literally, there was nothing to do.

We went to our friend's house for company and games around 1800.  The wind and rain kept getting worse.  Around this time, our city was upgraded from a flood alert (possible flood) to a flood warning (most likely to flood).  Lovely.  And to think - the storm really hadn't even hit us yet!  It was set to hit even with our state at 2000.  I called into work at 2030, with the trees leaning even more dangerously and the wind howling in our ears.  Asked the nurse how bad it really was, and she told me not to come in.  She said trees were down all along the highway and that there would be flooding from the river that is literally 20 feet from the hospital.  She transferred me to the supervisor and I was shocked to her her say, "You should have come in early to work because the CNO said there are no call outs.  We've known about Irene for a whole week and you should have come in early to work and planned on staying over if needed."  Um excuse me!?  First of all, no one told me that I was supposed to come in early.  Second of all, if I thought it was safe to drive to work, I would have.  Third of all, no one said there weren't supposed to be any call outs.  Ugh! 

We went home from our friend's and then went to bed.  It's too dark at 2130 with a hurricane blowing outside to do anything.  I found out from my mom that over 900,000 people were without power in our state.

Couldn't sleep hardly at all that night.  People from the ward kept texting us saying church was cancelled.  The rain kept beating on the window and wind howling, keeping me awake.  At 0512, I was suddenly woken by a snapping, popping noise.  By then, the rain had finally stopped after raining non-stop for over 24 hours.  The MedStud and I got ready as best we could.  We didn't want to use any of the water in the pipes for fear that it was damaged by the storm and we had limited water, so we did sponge baths and ate tons of cereal and milk to get through the milk before it spoiled.  We walked around our neighborhood to survey the damage and found the source of the popping noise that woke me up - a ginormous branch broke off one of the biggest trees.  Multiple small trees were torn up and branches and leaves littered the entire property.  For the rest of the day, we read, studied, and played games.  We went to the park to play frisbee and took lots of pictures of tall, uprooted trees.

Then we drove toward downtown to see where power was restored.  Surprisingly, most of the capital seemed to have power.  Except for our apartment complex!  Stupid power grids!  Around 2030, the apartment complex directly across the street from us got their power turned on.  Dang the power company!  Didn't they understand that it was 78 degrees outside and we didn't have air conditioning!?  That our food was slowly getting spoiled?!  And that we desperately needed the Internet!?!  Gah!  

I forgot to mention previously that the mailman even brought us our mail during the hurricane.  Bless them!

We've been without power now for 79 hours.  The electrical company estimates our power will be turned back on tomorrow between 5 and 11.  Their estimates keep getting pushed back!  Ugh.  We were blessed to be able to take our "frozen" aka defrosted foods over to our other friend's house.  My work gave every employee without power a bag of ice, so we'll use that for our refrigerated foods.  The MedStud has stayed at school almost all day studying for his test tomorrow, and using the school's electricity and air conditioning.

This is so monotonous.  I'm tired.  Being without electricity is really draining, and it's hard to explain why.

Here's hoping that we get our power turned back on tomorrow.

Additionally, there is a tropical storm brewing out in the Atlantic Ocean, projected to become a category 3 hurricane.  I really, really, really hope it doesn't head for us.

So, lessons I've learned:
1. I'm grateful for electricity, and all the things it powers.  Internet, computers, refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, washer, dryer, AIR CONDITIONING, lights.
2. I'm grateful that we were prepared.  In the event we would need to evacuate, we would be able to do so and live off what we had. 
3. I know that I need to buy another large cooler and buy at least 3 10-pound bags of ice next time.
4. A full freezer will last for 48 hours if not opened, and a half full freezer will last for 24 hours.  A fridge will only last for 4 hours if not opened.
5. I need to research what people did in the "olden days" before there was electricity!  What did they do to fill up their days?
6. The MedStud and I haven't gotten through an entire bottle of propane yet.  We conserve well.
7. When you know a hurricane is coming, buy supplies two days before, not the day before.

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