The mighty Casey hadn’t struck out after all! The trucks all left, but in an hour or so they were back with some friends. I counted five big rigs in all. By the way, they were all from Florida. They took down fences and backed their trucks through back yards so they could replace the broken power poles. It took them all day, but around 6:30 the digital clocks around the house began flashing! We were without electricity from Friday evening, September 12 to Wednesday evening, September 24. Once the power was back on, the Florida power and light guys walked through the area checking for any problems. At every house people came out to thank them. We made it okay without power, but we sure like it better with it!
There’s no joy in Mudville today, although we had a momentary thrill. Around 10:00 we spotted the first power company trucks yet seen on our street. As you can guess, the whole neighborhood stirred. There were three trucks in all and the guys with hard hats went yard to yard up and down both sides of the street. One of them told me that they had to get trucks into at least two back yards to replace snapped off power poles, which means the fences to those yards have to be taken down. I saw them head into one yard with a chain saw. Then, they all gathered for a conference.
Then, they all drove off.
Again, there’s no joy in Mudville today.
I write this on Tuesday morning – day 10 and counting without electricity at our house. We are thankful for the loan of a 5kw generator which we are using to power our camper with a/c. I’m having to buy around $20 in gas a day just to run it in the evenings and overnight. It’s not to high a price to be able to sleep, something that would be hard to do otherwise. Our overnight lows have been in the mid 70’s the past few nights with high humidity. I think we have a minor cool front coming in tomorrow. It will drop the temps a few degrees and is supposed to bring us some very welcome drier air.
Another complication is mosquitoes. They have exploded in number since the storm and being outside means constantly brushing them off or donating blood to their cause. Happily, the county has started aerial spraying. The sound of the “buzz bombers” was welcome this morning and I was actually able to sit on the back patio to read my Bible at the start of my day.
One of the biggest problems for Jackie is that she has to go through several intersections where the stop and go lights are either not working or not there at all. In morning rush hour traffic that turns into a nightmare with traffic backing up at some spots as far as you can see. Also, people tend to get a little nutso about stuff like that.
Our Sunday morning worship service was considerably different this week than it was last week. Last Sunday we were just starting recovery from the storm. Many of our folks were still out of town and of those who attended, none had electrical power at their homes and just about all had tree limbs down, had lost entire trees, had fences down, and other damage at their homes. This morning we had around 80% of our regular crowd. The church has power, so aside from the damage to the building, it felt like a regular service. The music focused on praise and thanksgiving and I spoke on prayer and hurricanes, of God’s grace in the storm, and the wonderful gift of his peace in our lives. We concluded the service by making a large circle of prayer. Many offered prayers of thanksgiving and we concluded the service by singing “Always Remember Jesus” – a chorus we sing at the conclusion of most services.
Each Sunday we have a “meet and greet” time as part of the worship service. I often give humorous directions, like “shake hands with someone taller and someone shorter than you and tell them you’re glad they came to church today.” This morning I gave everyone a choice. They could either say, “Rejoice with me, we have electricity at our house” or they could say, “Woe is me, we have no electricity.” That caused some good natured laughter.
I’m still on the “woe is me” side of things.
With temps rising to the mid to upper 80’s and no power company repair crews in sight I decided to see if I could track down a bigger generator. My idea is to fully power the camper so we can have a/c for sleeping. Otherwise, we are in for some warm, humid, and noisy sleeping conditions. I don’t know if this is a future strategy or not, but many people we know already have power restored so their generators are once again unused. I made two phone calls and ended up with offers of two generators! The one I ended up with is a beautiful 5kw Huffy power plant. This one would actually power our entire house, but I’m going for the easy approach for now and am just powering the camper plus whatever we want plugged in inside. It should take less than five gallons of fuel for a night, which is the capacity of the generator. Hopefully, we’ll get a good night’s sleep tonight.
We’re still waiting on electricity. I think we have some power lines down on our branch of the blessed electrical tree and that means we have to wait till they get the easier ones up and running before they look our way. The storm was overnight Friday and we are now at the following Thursday morning. There may have been a truck from the electric company here, but if there was I missed it. I’m not complaining but I’m looking forward to seeing the power back on. Meanwhile, a lot of people in the community are getting power and some gas stations are opening up. The result, for us, is more noise than ever. Apparently, as folks get power they loan their generators to the less fortunate in our neighborhood. People know they can get fuel, so there is no effort to spare the gas. One neighbor was given a big and old welding machine for power. She already had a couple of small and quiet generators, but now she’s running this workhorse. You can’t carry on a conversation in the front yard without practically shouting. These are nice people but it’s frustrating to have all the windows open so the nice cool air can come in and having the racket of at least four generators, one of which dominates all the others. I’ve probably spent too much time in state park campgrounds where people value quietness and being outdoors.
Several years ago Jackie and I were invited to the home of some friends with a strong Oriental connection. When we arrived our host invited us to the table where we visited while he made us some hot tea. He commented that the making and drinking of tea was a part of the Oriental culture. That ritual came to mind these past few days as I’ve offered folks a cup of coffee. Normally I put some coffee and water into the coffee maker, press the “go” button and within a few minutes I have some good hot coffee. Living in these non-electric conditions makes the “cup of coffee” experience a bit more complicated. I have to pump up the camp stove and light it. I have to put water and coffee in our old fashioned coffee pot, and then wait for the water to start boiling and then percolating. Whenever I decide the color of the coffee in the little glass top is dark enough I can pour the coffee, but it is way too hot to drink having just come off of a rolling boil. Through all of this, there is time to chat. In this case the conversation is about the storm and the clean up and what stores are open. Anyway, it’s a bit of a throwback to simpler, slower-paced times.
I wouldn’t have been surprised had I looked out on Saturday morning and seen my little Casita camper on its side. However, it was still there. One rivet has leaked – I’ll have to fix it with a dab of silicone. With the survival of the little camper, my survival plan has worked out. I fired up the propane refrigerator and we moved everything we could into it. I then filled our trusty old Coleman camp stove with fuel and set it up in the garage. We also have the propane BBQ grill next to the camper. We have the Coleman with two burners, the camper with a two burner stove and the grill for cooking. Dish washing still takes place in the house, but otherwise the garage has become our kitchen. We’re very thankful that our community water supply has not been compromised and we have had no “boil water” orders.
Even as people clean their yards and dream of electricity normalcy edges in. I was surprised on Monday to find that the US mail ran. Then, this morning, Tuesday, regular trash collection took place. We were told to keep the regular pickup items separate from the storm debris. Sure enough, the big truck came down the street right on schedule. I had a phone call from the pest control people reminding me of their scheduled visit tomorrow. They just wanted to know if they could get around the outside of the house. I said, “yes” and they said they’d see me tomorrow afternoon. Also, I heard a familiar truck this afternoon. It was UPS making a delivery. The driver asked, “You folks okay? Get any damage?” We said we were fine and off she went. Jackie’s library had power restored today and they plan to be open in a few days. She’s going to work tomorrow. The storm was still winding down on Saturday. On Tuesday, we have UPS and the mailman and garbage pickup.
I was raised way out in the country and our rural Indiana area was one of the last to get telephones. We kids couldn’t wait to have telephones! We didn’t mind being on party lines at all. Every day we third graders updated each other on who had gotten their phone installed. Of course, we had nothing to do with it, but there was a bit of a competition to get a phone before others. Today my son called to happily inform us that his power had just come on. Then a bit later some of our church folks called to say that they had lights out in their more rural neighborhood. While ago our automated phone call from the city came in and we were told that great progress has been made in restoring power. Well, we’re still without electric service. However, I’m an optimistic person so I’m running the generator and watching the Astros game tonight believing that we’ll catch up with everyone else tomorrow, or at least we’ll be able to buy more gas for the generator!