Like quite a lot of people across the country, Ohio wasn’t spared the wrath of Hurricane Ike when its 75mph winds blew through Columbus this past Sunday (the 14th). It’s my understanding that the weathermen knew it would be a blustery day, but had no idea the winds would be as high as they were.
We brought our cat inside and watched the destruction from the safety of our house. It almost seemed “Wizard of Oz” – like, except we didn’t see any witches fly by on bicycles. Some of our neighbors braved the weather and were outside chatting until they saw a stray chimney cap come hurtling through the air. Luckily it narrowly avoided hitting them and our glass-enclosed Florida room. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief once it landed.
The saddest thing to watch was the gradual split and felling of our beloved cherry tree. It was a good tree that had suffered a substantial injury earlier this summer when one of its heavily (cherry) laden branches came crashing down (quite loudly too, according to our neighbor). In spite of that, it still managed to produce at least a dozen pies worth of cherries (half of which are still in our freezer). After counting the rings, I can approximate its age at somewhere between 15 and 25 years. Will we replant there? Possibly, but not necessarily another fruit tree (too much work and usually too much produce for just the two of us).
Not surprisingly, our power went out sometime around 4pm. As we were going to my sister’s for dinner, having no power didn’t spoil our dinner plans. Luckily the pie I was making was the ‘no bake’ variety, so that wasn’t a problem either. We were a bit trepidacious about going out in the storm, but didn’t run into any felled branches, though quite a few of the traffic lights were out.
Since my sister lives in a relatively new cul-de-sac with saplings rather than mature trees, there wasn’t nearly the amount of debris as in our neighborhood. My sister said they lost a shingle and a little aluminum siding, but that’s about it. I noticed their cat having fun watching the swirling leaves by the glass patio door.
We weren’t surprised in the least to go home to a dark neighborhood and a dark house. My husband at least had the foresight to grab a flashlight before we left so we wouldn’t kill ourselves tripping over things in the dark. Living in a tri-level house and having an abundance of stairs can be treacherous when you can’t see where you’re going!
Monday we had electricity at both my and my husband’s respective places of employment, but no cable all day at my company. That made for a long, anxious day with little or no communication with the outside world (other than listening to the radio at home in the morning and buying a newspaper at lunch). Still no power at home. At least my sister had just about enough space in her spare refrigerator and spare freezer to accommodate the bulk of our goods. A friend of hers who lives near us had gotten there first, so between the two of us we managed to pretty much fill up both appliances.
Tuesday – still no power at home, but cable restored at work. Hurrah! Internet access again! As we still had hot water, our only hardship was when it came to mealtimes. We stocked up on granola/Nutrigrain bars for breakfast, ate lunch out at work, and then just went out to dinner (Hometown Buffet and Donatos). However, even that gets old fast. When we stopped in at Panera Bread on Monday, there was a long line and it looked like they were out of everything. Plus, it seemed that everyone who owns a laptop computer in Hilliard was there checking their e-mail and surfing the web.
My mother-in-law had this advice: “I guess it's time to get out the pioneer spirit right now. It's easy for me to say that though, as we've never had such a long power cut, although they've been fairly frequent a lot of our life. Way back in the early seventies we had times when it went off for some hours every day, but also it was on some of each day. That was caused by strikes etc. We once were traveling and stopped at a service area for a meal, and were brought a candle. "Power off in a few minutes" we were told, and we ate by candle light.”
Wednesday – still no power at home; novelty of the whole experience wearing a bit thin. I think my neighbor probably said it best when she said she’s been in “self-preservation mode.” The one bright spot in the day was a flyer we received announcing a free spaghetti dinner at the nearby Scioto United Methodist church. Never ones to turn down a free dinner, we quickly took them up on their offer arriving about a half hour after it started. We were able to get served right away, but when we left there were at least a dozen people in line. Obviously there are a lot of hungry people out there who appreciate a good home-cooked meal!
One of our neighbors was able to borrow a generator from a friend and offered to hook us up to it as well, so we plugged our mini-fridge into it. Apparently many of our neighbors had the same idea because the hum of generators could be heard up and down the street.
While in the middle of watching a DVD (on our portable DVD player), we heard a loud hum and saw all our digital clocks suddenly come to life and we knew we had salvation at last! Yes Marsha, life is certainly good with electric!
As much as we might have thought we were suffering, two of my friends put it all in perspective when they shared their personal stories with me. One said she was without power for two whole weeks during the December ice storm nearly four years ago. The other friend has a brother who lives in Houston. This is what she said:
“Leonard's life-long dream was to own and operate his own art gallery and studio. He had been working freelance for a number of years, and all his hard work finally paid off when he was able to open his very own gallery in Houston, barely just a year ago.
His gallery was destroyed in the hurricane last week. His gallery contained most of his equipment, many, many pieces of original art, print materials, and Leonard's sweat, tears, and dreams. And in one quick sweep, it was all gone, damaged beyond repair by wind and water.”