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Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Storm

This is a very late post about Snowpocalypse 2011, but there hasn't been any substantial snowfall since the storm, and I thought it was worth keeping record of.

If you're a New Englander, you know why there was no Halloween this year. On October 29, there was a massive, freak snow storm that dropped a good foot on us here in western Massachusetts.


Luckily, the storm hit on a Saturday afternoon, so the commute wasn't an issue at all. Chris and I had gotten up early to rake what was left of the leaves in the back yard before the storm started. We were skeptical about what they were forecasting - the meteorologists around here aren't exactly known for their accuracy. Right as we were finishing the raking, the snow started to fall.

Because we were skeptical of how serious the storm would be, we carried on with our day and head out to do some shopping. When we left the stores, the roads were absolute crap and on our way home, trees were snapping and falling in the streets. This was no more than 2 hours after we finished raking!

When we got home there was no power. There would be no power in the majority of our city for the next six days. This was an amazing and difficult experience to go through. Our neighbor, an eighty-something year-old, said he'd never seen a storm that knocked out power to an entire region for more than a few days. We were in for the long haul.

Luckily, we have a full inventory of camping equipment. We broke out our lanterns and our camp stoves - both kerosene and propane fueled. We were able to heat water in the morning over the stoves with which we could bathe a little bit. We don't have gas at all, so we were without heat, hot water, electricity and all. And don't worry, we cracked the windows whenever we used lanterns or stoves indoors - they weren't used longer than necessary.

We didn't suffer too badly food-wise, and we didn't really end up throwing too much out as we cooked up most of what we had in the fridge before it spoiled. Gratefully, it was a Saturday when we lost power, so the fridge was pretty empty as we do the shopping on Sunday.

The heat and hot water was greatly missed. We were sleeping with 3 comforters and 4 cats on the bed, who would often climb under the covers with us. We were averaging 45F in the house during the day if memory serves correctly. Early in the morning, we'd get up and first thing, we'd heat up some hot water.

On the radio on Sunday night, the local mix station's DJ abandoned his music and instead acted as a community communication station, which I thought was awesome. He asked people to call in with locations that had a hot meal, electricity, or gas. People were calling in all sorts of little places and they were getting broadcast across the region.
We were using our cars for cell phone charging, even though the cell towers were mostly down.

Gasoline for the cars became an issue - very few gas stations were able to open after the storm. We sat in a half a mile line for an hour and a half to get a tank of gas on Monday afternoon. We heard rumors of fights breaking out at the pumps because gas was so scarce and at such a premium.

Roads were mostly out of commission too, thanks to all the downed trees. The trees were really the cause of the whole problem. The snow was just too heavy for all those leaves. We stayed up late on Saturday night, set a fire in the backyard fireplace, and we listened to the trees crack and break all around us. It was very, very eerie.

Once the power came back on around 10pm on Friday night, we were able to properly shower and get some warmth in the house. We didn't suffer too badly, but I'm sure there were some who did. For example, during the week, we went into a Home Depot that was running half the store on generated power. We were looking for some white fuel, but there were people camped out in the store who were waiting for a shipment of generators that night at 6pm. 

There's a few things I think we took away from the storm as a positive:
  1. Never underestimate the power of camping equipment. We were the only ones on the block who had coffee in the morning. 
  2. A week without power, if you're prepared for it, is more of a blessing than a curse. No computers, no cell phones, no technology! 
  3. When we have kids, we're going to consider one night a week going without electricity to show how much fun it can be to be imaginative.
  4. Always, always, always have a few extra blankets around... just in case. 
The storm was some of the coldest but best times of my life. It was just Chris, myself, and our four cats, reading, relaxing, talking, and trying to keep warm and fed for days. Sure, we smelled a little bit. We wore the same clothes for a few days. But it made us a lot more grateful for the small things like light switches and range cooking.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

Wow! What an experience! I'm glad you two made it through the week. Brr! Makes me cold just reading about it.

I honestly don't know how we'd make it through a week with no power. I think we need to think about some kind of camping gear or somethings along those lines. I live in Michigan, we get snow!

I think it is a good idea to "unplug" for a bit so the kids can see what it is like with no power.
Did you do any knitting during that time?