Sunday, July 1, 2012
Surviving the Big Power Outage
Friday seemed like any other day, although the heaviness of the air suggested a storm approached. At ten, I went to bed with the dogs because they hate thunder. Vicki shakes with fear, and Rafferty cries. I had taken my first Jazzercise class in years, so sleep came quickly. I remember thinking how odd the wind and thunder sounded, but I told myself it sounded different to me because I'm up here in Northern Virginia, eight miles from the White House, and I'd grown accustomed to the storms over the ocean. I was vaguely conscious that the power had gone out, but I figured it would be back on soon.
I was one of the 1.4 million households in the metro-DC area hit by a derecho, a super storm system. When the dogs woke up at 6 a.m., I discovered the hallways of our apartment building were pitch black. Luckily, I'd checked out our flashlights as part of my organizing efforts a few days before. I grabbed one, put around my neck the lanyard with the little electronic device that "beeps" me back into the building, and started down the dark hallway with the dogs. Outside was muggy, but calm. The dogs did their business. I tried to get back into the building and discovered my beeper couldn't unlock the door.
I had my cellphone in my pocket, but the closest friend was an hour away. My husband is out of town. The mall is 1.1 miles away, but I had no money, and I knew the stores open at 9. Three hours away! Walking the dogs around to the front of the huge building, I headed for the "Welcome Center," the apartment office. Alas, the concierge had left. The place was vacant.
I started around the other side of the building, which is an entire city block in size, coming to the parking garage, and waved down a nice neighbor who was leaving. She volunteered her boyfriend to accompany me through the garage to a stairwell. You see, there were absolutely no lights in the parking garage either. After he left me at a stairwell, and I ascended it with the dogs in tow, I discovered I had no idea where I was, or if the buildings even connected. So I went back down by myself (with dogs) and wandered around in the dark in the parking garage until by pressing on my car keys, I found my car and oriented myself. Then I traveled up another set of stairs, down the dark hall, and into the apartment.
Yesterday was trying. The heat index was 110 degrees. When Vicki, my female Bichon, looked too hot, I gave her a bath. Later, I rubbed her tummy with cold water on a towel. I thought we were through the worst of it until the early evening came--and the temp spiked upwards for a while.
I had lots of time.
This morning the power came on about 6 a.m. Cell service is still messed up. My husband and I can't seem to connect by phone. But oh, golly, am I loving the comforts of modern living!
Did you go without power? How did you manage?