As I stepped outside Thursday the 19th I remember thinking it was like I had walked through a teleportation device and landed in Alaska or Antarctica. I had already been waking at 3:15am for a couple days to get up in time to walk to work in the snow. If it weren’t for the inhumane hour, I would always walk to work. So long as I have my trusty snow boots, I quite enjoy walking in the snow. There is something serene about the undisturbed snowscape before the rest of the world has gotten up and trampled all over it. This particular morning the giant mounds of snow looked different than I’d ever seen before, almost glacier-like. There had been a bit of rain that created a slick layer of ice atop everything.
our bird bath
As I reached about 1/4 the way to work, I started hearing loud cracks from the tree tops. The trees were weighed down with snow that had turned to ice. Branches were falling around me. I remember thinking, “This is not good.” And then as I got just over half-way to work, I realized my face was bare. I had forgotten my glasses on the worst possible day. Within an hour of arriving at the 911 center, things were chaotic. Power lines and trees were falling all over our little county, and we had to switch to full-on emergency mode, with fire departments staffing emergency centers and all of us at dispatch working in overdrive to keep up with the calls for help.
This tree fell in our parking lot while I was at work.
I survived the rough day at work without my glasses, though the walk home was tough. At 4am I can walk in the street, but by 3pm I had some rough terrain over plow snow on the main road with traffic next to me. I’m happy to report I only fell once in thigh-deep snow. Levi and Jess were getting a little cabin fever and decided to meet up with me and we would all go get an early dinner. We had $3 in cash, so we planned to walk downtown and bus back up the hill. Throughout our fun trip downtown, I told them stories of my day and warned Levi that our power would very likely go out. Being hooked on his new Skyrim game, he was not hearing it despite all the downed power lines and dark traffic lights he had seen downtown. It turned to night as we were walking home from the bus stop, and much of the east side was in the dark. Miraculously, our power was still on when we turned the corner to our street. Levi fired up his X-Box and Jess and I turned on the TV and thanked our lucky stars for about 45 minutes before our power finally went out and stayed out for five very long days.
Jess snapped this with her phone as they quickly adapted their route to meet me
A damp Levi as we order dinner
We always talk about preparing for such emergencies, but we have accomplished very little in putting together that emergency kit. Some ways we were prepared:
- lots of clean, warm clothes to layer on
- plenty of blankets to keep us all warm at night (the house dropped to the 40′s, so we’re talking a lot of blankets)
- boots, water proof hooded jackets, scarves, gloves, umbrellas, and hats
- a functional flashlight for each of us that we were able to get to in the dark
- lots and lots of card and board games
Ways we failed:
- not having propane for our camp stove (though I didn’t want to create dishes anyway since we are on septic with an electric pump)
- not being able to locate our shoe box full of candles
- never buying those fancy hand-crank lanterns or LED lights we talked about
- not having a stash of cash, although thankfully we didn’t need it
- not realizing we could use the snow to refrigerate our dairy in time, although thinking of it in time to save the beer
- standing in a line out the door at the coffee shop when the power went out and everyone moaned, followed by it turning right back on and everyone cheering
- getting sick of take-out and packaged food by day two
- lounging in the furniture section at Fred Meyer, enjoying the free WI-FI and keeping an eye on our cell phones as they charged in the lamp aisle
- writing thank you letters in our heads to the inventor of baby wipes
- stocking up on those LED lights and clicking them on and off as we went from room to room
- walking to Big Tom’s for veggie burgers and tater tots and celebrating with the owner as he told us they had already broken their all time sales record since 1969
- craving a warm breakfast and toasting Pop-Tarts with the creme brulee torch
- working as a family to dig my car out of the snow as well as a car width path in our long driveway (followed by two days of Jello arms)
- a slumber party with some of our favorite friends when the first of our three houses had power restored
- warming up and killing time at the movies (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close)
- lots and lots of cuddling
the famous Artesian well continues to flow
Levi entertains a little girl while we all wait for the bus
the most fun card game award goes to Back to the Future
An almost 6 foot 2 inch Levi is tiny next to that monkey puzzle tree
everything is covered in icicles
We are truly lucky that all we had were big inconveniences. I’m so glad we took care of all our pressing tree work last year. We still managed to have trees from both of our neighbor’s yards fall into ours. Thankfully they narrowly missed our house and cars. One tree landed less than an inch from my car, no exaggeration. None of our electronics were fried, and some people were without power twice as long as us. Now we just need to take this as motivation to prepare for a true disaster and actually put together that emergency kit.