Bracing for Frankenstorm

by julie swanson

Enjoying one last sit-down at my computer before the storm hits. I didn’t think we were supposed to get much more than rain and blustery weather here in Virginia, but they closed schools yesterday and even the university has shut down and convoys of power trucks from the south could be seen coming our way on the highways yesterday. It’s only lightly raining right now, but I guess we’re going to lose power. Again. We always lose power! That’s what this area gets for having so many tall trees and red clay soil that’s not very root-friendly.

This summer over the 4th of July, we were without power for a week due to downed trees all over the area. And it was around 100 degrees the whole time. We got up early and slaved for a few hours each morning, chainsawing down what we could on our own and clearing it away from the house and driveway, picking up things that had blown all over and broken. We tried not to open the fridge and filled coolers with ice to keep things cold if we did open the fridge and grab something out quickly. But once the pool turned green and got thick-feeling like Jello, we had nowhere to cool down or rinse off (thank God for the pool, which also enables us to flush toilets with buckets of water). Everything left in the fridge and freezer finally had to go, another fun job. At night we went through many candles and flashlight batteries, refilled the kerosene lanterns. In the afternoons I went and sat at Barnes & Noble for relief, and to charge my phone and computer. Luckily Steve’s parents, who moved here a little less than a year ago, only lost their power briefly, so we were also able to drive across town to their place for an occasional meal and shower. At night, sleeping with the windows open, in our basement where it’s cool, we listened to the loud whine of the generators in the neighborhood on the hill above us. That noise became irritating, like a swarm of bees in the background, constantly. It would be nice to have a generator, and we keep thinking about it, but never get around to doing it–and I’m sure our generator-less neighbors are glad.

So we know what to expect now (we think), and it should be easier this time of year as it is neither unbearably hot or cold outside. The pool is closed so we don’t have that for bathing and flushing purposes, but maybe we can use buckets to catch rain, or maybe Steve’s parents won’t lose power again. We do have a number of large trees that were somewhat uprooted but didn’t fall as they fell into other trees which are keeping them from hitting anything important to us. Just last week I had a tree guy out for an estimate on cutting them down, as we intended on taking care of that problem as soon as the leaves were off the trees and it was a little bit easier to see what we were dealing with. So we probably should have gotten at that sooner, and they may come down in the winds. Lets just hope they miss the shed and the pool fence and the house (I think the deck is the only part that has any chance of being hit by them).

But we have battened down the hatches. Firewood is stacked for the woodburning stove and fireplace, boxes of matches have been set out by candles in a couple different areas, cell phones and computers are charging, Steve is at the store getting food and bags of ice for the coolers, I’ve gone outside and put away anything that might blow into the house or fence and break like last time, we’ve parked the cars where no trees can fall on them.

Good luck everyone. I know there are many others who are in much worse positions, more in the direct path of this thing. We’ll be thinking about you. Let’s hope predictions are wrong, or exaggerated.