I lived in Florida for five and a half years. I lived through Hurricane Wilma, tropical storms Fay, Barry, Ernesto. Just to name a few. Major winds. Flooding. Sideways rain.
Never once lost power. Lights didn’t even flicker.
In the two years, I’ve been back inWest Virginia, I’ve had two major power outages. I’m talking multiple days. Days and days and days with no lights, no heat, no air conditioning, no refrigerator, no Internet, no television, no hot water.
Last April, when I lived in Edgewood, we had a crazy thunderstorm. I think a tornado touched down in Fort Hill. Either way, it resulted in three days without electricity. At night, the temperatures dipped down into the 30s. We huddled under mountains of blankets, charged cell phones in the car, lit a fire in the fireplace and worked on our computers from Panera.
And of course, last week, the freak derecho. We West Virginians went without power in a heat wave for more than a week. My power in South Charleston came back on sometime Wednesday. I can’t be sure. After four days, I had to escape town. I still don’t have cable or Internet, so I’m having to post this blog from an undisclosed location.
So, I’m beginning to wonder if some higher power, pun intended, is trying to tell me something here…
I can’t be sure.
But I am sure that going without power for an extended period isn’t a freak occurrence in my beloved MountainState. It seems to be an annual ritual. One that I hate, that disrupts my entire existence and causes great discomfort but seems to be the price we have to pay for being here.
So the message I’m taking away from all of this is that I need to be better prepared, especially when a small person is depending on me. It was downright terrifying, wondering where I could find a place to get my daughter breakfast each morning and having to tell her “Sorry, you can’t have milk. The refrigerator isn’t working and there’s no ice in this town. How about some warm water from the tap?” We waited in line for gas for half an hour. Driving around was the only way to stay cool and charge our electrical devices. At night, we slept on sweat-soaked sheets, not even a breeze to cool things down.
I know I’m fortunate that I was able to eat at the few open restaurants and spend long afternoons at the movies to escape. I can’t tell you how many laps we made around the CharlestonTownCenter those days.
But now I’m on a mission to assemble a storm kit. I’m envisioning big things – like a gas camping stove – and smaller things – like a battery-operated fan. And I need to stock up – candles, D batteries, bottled water. I’ve got to keep my cell phone, portable DVD player and laptop charged at all times and I can’t let my gas tank run close to empty ever again. Maybe a stash of food items like peanut butter and cereal bars and of course, Goldfish crackers.