Friday, October 19, 2012

The Storm: Saturday

We loaded up the contents of the fridge, stuck them in a cooler and drove into town. I figured the radio station where I do my weekend work would be fine. They've got a generator and anyway, I figured power would be restored from the center out.

My modest cooler full of perishables (a little meat, a dozen eggs and several bags of frozen veggies) would be safe until the electricity came back on in a day or so --if it came to that. It seemed just as likely that I'd drop the stuff off that morning then take it home with me after my evening shift.

In the beginning, I had no idea how hard the state had been hit. I thought it was just a particularly ugly storm that had blown through. Judging from the damage in the yard, I figured it would take the weekend to get things back on.

I had no idea.

We drove into town, soaking in the air conditioning and marveling at the destruction. Trees had fallen across the lines half a dozen times I could see. A blackened transformer laid crushed underneath the wreck of a tree and a power pole. I wondered if the fire department had put the thing out or if it had simply burned out while the homeowners watched from their front window.

Along the drive, we watched for "signs of life," any hint there was power. Traffic lights hung limply from the line, their red, green and amber eyes dead. Hand-printed signs explaining the situation as best they understood it were posted in gas station windows, while cars, perhaps a few of them left by hopeful customers, dotted the lot.

I wondered about that. I'd filled up two days before. I was good for the weekend and maybe a day or so later, but not much beyond that.

It seemed like only about a third of the city had power by the time we got there. The radio station did and after talking briefly to the guy running the board, he told me the indication was that a lot of the state had been pretty hard socked: hundreds of thousands of people were without power. He'd heard about Greenbrier Street and the road leading to my house getting hit pretty hard, but he didn't have a lot of information.

The internet was down. We couldn't figure out which stations were on or off.

I packed my few frozen and refrigerated goodies into the company ice box, placed my name on them then figured it might be a good time to get something to eat. Everybody was hungry and getting restless.

Outside, it was a beautiful day. We had blue skies and nothing but sun, but nothing much was open, and there were ugly lines at every gas station able to offer service.

Just over half a tank.

We ended up having breakfast at a Chinese Buffet. The place was packed.