Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

The Return of the Light

Filed under: Daily Life,Holidays,Rats! — folkcat at 6:32 pm on Monday, December 15, 2008

We’re okay. Lots of other people are still without power. There are advantages to living in the heart of downtown, especially when you’re on the same portion of the power grid as, oh, the police department and town hall.

Our power came back Saturday afternoon at about 2:30 p.m., 37 hours after it went off. During the interim, we had no lights, no internet, no television, no heat, no hot water. We kept one room warm with an oil lamp with a mantle, but could only burn that while we were awake or present.

The good news is we saved all our perishable foods. We woke up – artificially early for us – at around 7:30 a.m. on Friday, resolved not to open the fridge or freezer, and immediately left to find ice. We moved quickly enough on that to find the nearest supermarket open in emergency mode. Three 15-lb. bags of ice were stuffed quickly into the compartments, one in the freezer, two in the fridge, and we didn’t open the doors again for the duration. After the refrigerator had a while to run again once power came back, we checked – everything is still okay.

Otherwise, Friday was spent in a series of forays into the outside world, hoping to find news, batteries, restaurants that had power and could serve food, food we could eat at home without refrigeration or heating. We weren’t very successful in most of these efforts – many of the places we hoped for were in some power corridors that were severely damaged, and so they weren’t open. Others ran out of supplies quickly. We never did turn up the spare bottle of lamp oil we wanted.

We did get Friday brunch at a local diner – all the fast-food places were in pockets that had no power. Friday dinner was eaten at a Chinese restaurant in a plaza that was on.

By Saturday, after all of Friday’s fuss, I was feeling unwell enough to refuse to go anywhere. I stayed huddled in the one warm room, the living room, with the oil lamp and the Ratties and a battery-operated radio we’d dug out, listening to Car Talk and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, while Gryphon took an insulated lunch bag and fetched burgers and fries home from Wendy’s.

The power came back on while we ate those.

Sunday was spent in pajama-day mode, relaxing and taking comfort in being able to do normal things. Today, I’m still trying to catch up on feeds and reads online.

We did venture out this afternoon for a rehab appointment for Gryphon and some errands. Along the way, we could see many spots that were still without power. One stretch of the main road coming into Wilton was closed through Friday and Saturday, but had been reopened by this morning. Still, you could see the homes there were dark. In one spot, the power feed had ripped off the house and was laying across the road for cars to drive across. The street light on that pole was hanging at a sad, unnatural angle.

Another utility pole on the same stretch had snapped in two halfway up its height, and the top half hung there, precariously leaning on the lines. A fresh pole appeared to be standing next to it, so the pole crew at least had been through, but now we need the electrical experts to actually move the connections and lines over.

Everywhere, there are piles of splintered branches along the road, ripped limbs hanging off lines, snapped tree trunks glaring in the midst of wooded patches. Businesses that are open have put out signs especially for the occasion. One natural food store/greenhouse read “Hot Coffee, Warm Greenhouse, Only Slightly Smelly Staff”, an allusion to the fact that so many people are still without hot water or heat at home and have trouble showering. Other signs were as simple as “We Have Power”, “We’re Open”. Spots that advertise “Free WiFi” have full parking lots.

The first topic of conversation among strangers – and we’re all chatting with each other as we wait in long lines at fast-food counters and supermarket checkout lanes – is “Do you have power?” The answer for far too many is “no.”

This storm has done a lot of damage. Friday we encountered one man in the supermarket who told of how a tree came down and took out half his house and two vehicles. This was in a part of our town called Wilton Center, which used to be where town hall and everything were located until the railroad came through by the river. Wilton Center is up on a large hill, connected to the rest of the world by twisting, winding roads. He told us his family had to “four-wheel it out” to get to civilization.

I am sure the impact of the damage hadn’t really hit him yet, because he seemed to be in amused amazement as he spoke. Almost even giddy, I thought. I hate to think what’s happened to him as the reality of it all sank in later.

Bottom line, though, we’re okay, the Seven Little Ratties are okay, we have food, heat, electricity, and we’re starting to feel like things are almost normal again. Such as they are. Oh, and we also did one of our few bits of holiday shopping today – we stopped into the local candy maker and each picked out an assortment of special treats to enjoy through the season. Including Gryphon’s traditional giant candy cane – I’d guess about eighteen inches long, an inch or more thick, and all handmade, hand twisted peppermint goodness. It’s excessive, but he wants for so little that we go for it.

In Rattie news – five out of seven ratties have been observed running in the Wodent Wheel on more than one occasion each. That’s everyone except for Lola, who may be a little plump to fit inside comfortably, and Yuri, who’s slow to accept new things. Who knew?!?

2 Comments

Comment by Carol

December 15, 2008 @ 10:36 pm

oh boy. Having lived through The Great Ice Storm of ’98, I totally know how you feel. We were in a pocket that had opower for most of it. Lucky us. We got to host everybody else. Or at least provide showers. One person I know had his parents, her parents, 4 siblings, 3 dogs and 6 cats in their ONE BEDROOM apartment. they had no power, but they did have heat, whichwas a plus.

Glad you came through in pretty good shape.

Comment by Rattie Crew

December 21, 2008 @ 10:52 am

I heard about the storm in the news and based on the pictures it looked absolutely horrible! But happy to hear all is well with you and your family!

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