Goodnight Irene -- 09/01/11

Irene good night Irene good night
Good night Irene Good night Irene
I'll see you in my dreams

Some times I live in the country
Some times I live in town
Some times I take a great notion
To jump in the river and drown

Okay, so Hurricane Irene has been gone since Sunday night... and we have had power since yesterday afternoon...

So here's what the past almost a week has been for us...

We were up in Vermont for long weekend for a family wedding (our niece)... This was sort of a destination wedding, up in the Sugarbush/Mad River area of Vermont. Most everyone rented condos in the same complex we had a nice three bedroom/two bath condo (Jeremy and Jill & Chris were also attending).

The wedding was late Friday afternoon and most of us were planning on staying through Sunday, but as Irene made her way up along the Atlantic Coast, more and more people decided to leave early. A large group of us (three generations), having gone on hikes in some of the area forests and grabbed a late lunch at a deli, were soaking in a large hot tub (next to the larger of the two outdoor swimming pools); we were all planning on all having dinner at the American Flatbread Pizza in the nearest town. Back to our condo unit from the hot tub, a quick shower before dinner, and as I was getting dressed Nancy told me that Clara & Paul and Kristen & Dan and Tom & Janet had changed their minds and were leaving now and that perhaps we should do the same. In fact, it seemed that a major exodus was taking place and just about everyone who had driven there (which mostly meant those of us from Rhode Island and Connecticut and New York) was packing their cars or had already left.(Those who remained had flown in and were dependent upon airlines and airports and most airports in the eastern U.S. had either already closed or were announcing plans to close soon.)

So off we went Nancy & Jeremy & me. (Jill had driven up with Chris in her car a two-car convoy on the way up, but they were planning on continuing on up to Ottawa -- the Mad River Valley being about halfway between Rhode Island and Ottawa -- so they stayed over in Vermont until late Sunday morning.) We had a long drive... about five hours on the way up, but a bit longer heading home because it was night and because we hit some heavy rain at spots in New Hampshire and in the Boston area. (The same bands of rain that kept causing rain delays in the Red Sox game at Fenway that we kept listening to on our trip home.)

We reached our town just about at midnight and decided to stop at a 24 hour CVS pharmacy (one of their big stores) to pick up milk and orange juice and frozen pizza. When we got home Jeremy turned on the oven and then began taking down the screening and canvas roof on our back deck. Nancy and I had not done that before leaving because we had hoped that Irene would wander out to sea or loose most of her force before reaching us. The media loves to build up every snowflake of drop of rain as being the next Storm of the Century, so I pay no attention to anything they say until those rare occasions when the storm does seem to be real. Jeremy and I cleared off the deck and then made room in the garage to get my car inside, along with Nancy's car which always goes in the garage every night. (And then Jeremy parked his sideways in the driveway, as close as he could to the garage so his car would be partly sheltered from debris by the house.) Jeremy and I split a pizza as our long-delayed post-midnight dinner.

So I got to bed about 2 a.m.- and then up around 7 a.m. I made a fresh pot of coffee and put it in a thermal container to stay hot. We lost power for about ten seconds at one point but mostly it was just a series of sub-second brief flickers in electrical supply... I called Jill just before 10 and she told me that she had just dropped off the condo keys at the front office and she & Chris were about to head up to Ottawa (which would also be about a five hour drive for them). We lost power a little bit later... at which point I decided to take a nap (as Nancy was already doing) and hope that the power would be restored soon.

It wasn't.

We never did get much rain but we sure had plenty of wind. There are no utility poles in our neighborhood; all of the utility lines electrical, telephone, and cable are underground. However, all of those lines are strung from pole to pole elsewhere and are vulnerable to trees blown down by strong winds which certainly describes our weather all day Monday. By late afternoon Monday we were seeing brief glimpses of the sun and even small patches of blue in breaks in the cloud cover, but the winds continued. By Monday evening the constant strong winds were gone, but we still had a fair amount of strong gusts.

Sunday night Jeremy had a bunch of friends over for a hurricane party -- I made huge amounts of pasta. Then Nancy and I went to bed and tried to read by flashlight. Monday we hoped for electricity to be restored. We didn't even have a cell phone signal. I had to drive into town to get enough of a signal to call my brother. Monday night I went out and brought back sub (from Subway) for Nancy & me. Later on that night Jeremy had friends over for another hurricane party (actually, mostly playing Monopoly by candle light) while Nancy & I read by flashlight. Tuesday Nancy had to go to work (teacher's meeting, postponed from Monday... school was supposed to start Tuesday but it has been postponed until next Tuesday because they didn't want to have to keep changing the start date -- there are still some trees down and people without power).

Nancy and Jeremy and I went out to dinner Tuesday night -- lights were on in a nearby neighborhood, which filled us with hope that when we came back from the restaurant we would find our power restored. Nope. Reading by flashlight again.

Wednesday -- a bit past noon -- we got our electricity back! Hurray! We've moved from the 19th century to the 20th century. Three or four hours later we got our Internet service back. We are back in the 21st century at last!

We were very lucky. Over in the Hudson Valley (I grew up in Kingston, NY) there was terrible destruction in many little towns in the foothills of the Catskills, many inches of rain fell over the mountains and flooding destroyed houses, bridges, and roads... Similar devastation hit the very area of Vermont where we had been for the wedding.

If you have not seen those scenes on television, Google can track them down for you, also YouTube has many amateur videos recorded by residents of those towns. I was watching some this afternoon and I had to stop. I know Phonecia, Margaretville, Shokan, Boiceville, etc. I have been camping at Woodland Valley. It was just too painful to watch.

We lost the food in our refrigerator and freezer. There are people in those small Catskill towns and in those small Vermont towns who lost their cars, their homes, all their possessions. (One of those videos showed a young woman carrying a big plastic bag -- it contained all that she had left in the world.)

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