Friday, December 14, 2007

SMILING HELPS

The weekend of Dec. 2 proved to be rather interesting around here. The winds began to blow about noon that Sunday, and they continued until Tuesday morning. They say we had 13-16 inches of rain in that period, but I'm not sure any of it hit the ground around here....the high winds were sending it in another direction. I went blissfully to sleep Sunday night, hearing the wind (which at times sounded like a freight train), but not really concerned. Little did I know that winds reaching category 3 hurricane-speed were tearing through the west part of our county.

We awoke Monday morning to a totally different landscape. The first thing I noticed when opening the living room drapes, was that the last of our major pine trees (60') had gone sideways into the power pole servicing our area, snapping off the top 20 feet. The tree and the top of the pole were dangling in the wires over the 4-lane highway bordering our property. It didn't matter....there was no traffic at all. We found out later that you couldn't get in or out of Aberdeen....and Central Park, where we live....because of so many similar situations repeating itself up and down the highway. We were kind of surprised...but not alarmed. We didn't yet know the full extent of the damage. We thought, "Well...it's gonna be late tonight before we get power." We have a fireplace with an insert, so we weren't cold. And fortunately (if one can call anything fortunate about these kinds of storms), it's usually warmer than normal when they occur. We were okay....just inconvenienced.

I dug out the battery-powered radio, and could find no local station. An Olympia station provided most of our news, and it was through them that we learned there was no getting in or out. We learned there were slides covering the highway in the 45 miles between here and Olympia too. We were beginning to be concerned. Power might be out longer than we expected, and we had two freezers full of food that needed to be protected.

Tuesday morning we were off to Olympia to get generators. Mind you, there were none left in Grays Harbor County, and we only found one in Olympia because the Cabela's store was so new, folks weren't thinking of them as a source of portable power. We had to divert around the slide area at Summit Lake, but got through with no problems. There were a great many semi-trucks lined up that apparently hadn't heard about the slide, and were too big to take the detour. We noticed several long flatbed trucks loaded with power poles, and we kept our fingers crossed that they would find a way through. Anyway, we got the last generator in Cabelas...and borrowed another from my brother-in-law (thanks, Randy!). And we got a hot meal too...our first in days! (Thanks, Sarah!) We were able to get power to our place, and to my father-in-law. And so we settled in for the wait.

Late Tuesday afternoon power crews began arriving. Up until then it was just too windy for them to begin working. It was with real joy that we welcomed a team of "pud people" to the front of our house....where they stayed until the following Saturday. Let's give a shout out to Michels Power.....thanks guys! You worked 24/7 to get our area of the world up and running. And thanks to my brother-in-law, Al....I'm sure it was he who got us a phone by Wednesday...when a whole lot of other people didn't have one until that weekend.

We had water....but you couldn't drink it without boiling it. And since it was a hassle to heat up the barbecue to boil water, we drank bottled. Wed. night they drilled a hole through our water line (drilling a hole for the new power pole), and without phones to most of our area, no one could get ahold of the water dept. to turn it off. We didn't know this until early (4 a.m) Thursday morning, when Michael got up for work. His first day back to work, and we had a lake in our front yard. He madly began digging trenches through our yard to divert the water to the driveway....instead of going under the house. We still have the trenches, but the water is gone. Our front lawn was rather sad to begin with....now it's even more interesting. It was Monday before we got a new water-line in, and Tuesday they gave us the go-ahead to drink it. Fortunately for us, we have a creek running through the property, so we were able to bring in buckets of water to flush the toilet during the time we had no water at all.

By Wednesday Sunny 102.1 was back on the air....with donated gas for their generators. Rhys Davis's show in the morning was a bright spot in our day. We were constantly updated with what was going on in around us....when a grocery store would open, who was giving away free ice or water...what restaurants were open for business. With most of the county blacked out, there were no gas stations....no grocery stores....no restaurants. People were making gas-runs to Olympia. Michael brought home drinking water from work. It was interesting to say the least. The spokeswoman for the PUD gave updates several times a day, and it was then we realized that we weren't getting power for another 5 or more days. The governor had declared our county a disaster, so FEMA was coming in with help in the form of generators, and checks for food and shelter. We knew lots of people that had parts of their roofs missing. My girlfriend lost her car to a tree....but she was wanting a new one anyway...fortunately! There was some flooding in east county, and millions and millions of board feet of timber now lay on the ground.

And because we had no power for the week, we missed all the TV coverage on our neighbors to the southeast in Lewis County, who were in much worse shape than us, with horrible flooding. I-5 was closed for days. Even parts of Olympia were flooded, with water up to the roofs of cars only a few blocks from the shopping mall. It was amazing.

But, here we are....one week after life returned to normal....getting ready for Christmas. It will take us awhile to get this mess cleaned up, but no real damage done to our place. Other people fared a LOT worse. And look at the rest of the COUNTRY....those ice storms in Oklahoma (off all places) and other parts of the midwest....all that snow in New England. And it's not even winter yet. Help.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I'm not sure I could find a smile

I frown even at the thought of camping, no flush toilets, no fully functioning kitchen .. *laugh*