Saturday, February 15, 2014

Turn Off the Noise

"Turn off the noise," Ainsley likes to say if the radio's playing and she has something to say, if the t.v. is on and she wants be heard.

It always make me laugh.

Our thirty-six hour adventure without power turned off plenty of noise. We were sitting around the table eating by candlelight talking about our day. I commented on how quiet everything was --  no washer or dryer, no t.v., no dishwasher, very few cars, no  "He took the remote!"

I woke up early, early on Wednesday and looked out the window to see our neighborhood coated in snow and (at that point) a thin layer of ice. I walked out the front door and noticed first the quiet and then unfamiliar noises.

Plink, plink, plink -- as ice continued to pile up steadily.

Creak, thud -- as branches fell.

More ominously, wahh, wahh, wahh -- as one siren after another wailed. This was a sound we would hear for three days.

I remember severe weather as a child growing up in Michigan. Oh, how we hoped and prayed the lights would go out! It was all a grand adventure, playing jacks by candlelight with my friend Susan, sitting in the basement waiting for a tornado warning to pass.

Oddly enough, I don't have a single memory of losing power in the winter. See, it's that "Wintery Mix" that does the damage -- the sleet, the freezing rain -- and Michigan pretty much gets snow, piles and piles of snow.

Here in Augusta, the epicenter of the Ice Capades that hit the South, our lights went out around midnight on Wednesday. With all other noise silenced for the duration, we became even more aware of the creak, thud, creak, thud, creak, thud all around us. At least three kabams were loud enough to send us flying to the windows to see what had fallen.

Let me tell you, all of this is a tad unnerving when you live in a pecan orchard.

We piled blankets on top of everyone and went to bed. I woke from a dead sleep around four o'clock in the morning to the sound of a deafening crash that must have come from the neighbors two doors down who lost a limb the size of a tree.

We woke up in a cold house and faced the first minor challenge of the day: How do you caffeinate without power? The second challenge was getting a radio operational. This storm was no surprise, and like the the rest of Augusta, I had stocked up at Walmart before it hit. My shopping list included batteries, but just the D and AA varieties. File this under lessons learned: All our radios take C batteries. I grabbed a flashlight and headed for the frigid attic, AKA The Island of Misfit Toys, hoping to find long-forgotten something that might harbor C cell batteries. Success! A defunct talking globe produced batteries, and we had communication with the outside world (which proved to be just as frozen and even more banged up than our property.)

Eventually the ping, ping and creak, thud gave way to the whine of chain saws as everyone dealt with the aftermath of the ice. A neighbor came by with 16 ounces of piping hot coffee. Another friend stopped by with wild rice soup and blueberry muffins. We checked in on our elderly neighbors.

Thirty-six hours in, we heard the microwave go bing, and we all rejoiced that the 'lectricity, as Ainsley calls it, was back once more. We enjoyed a nice dinner that required four burners, loaded a working dishwasher, and sat down to watch The Olympics.

And after a while, the couch started to shake. And dishes rattled. And I wondered if a massive tree had fallen. But I was fairly certain a tree wouldn't keep on falling, falling, falling.

Believe it or not, we had an earthquake, 4.1 on the Richter scale, epicenter not too far from here.

An earthquake!

And everyone was burning up Facebook wondering what in the world had just hit. And people were swearing they'd head to confession the next day. And we're all wondering what next? What next? And someone joked about The Rapture. (Note to my fellow Papists: Catholics don't do The Rapture.)

Quite a week.

And now I'm off to the store to replace the kids' Valentine's candy (which an unidentified someone may or may not have devoured during the ice storm.)


Kris said...

Oh no! I was praying that you weren't one of the neighborhoods hit with no power. I think my Dad's stayed on the whole time. Glad it was a short duration and that you all survived! I might die a little without coffee...! :)

christinelaennec said...

That sounds like an adventure that you will all look back on in future years. My biggest ice storm adventure was in Illinois in 1989. We were without power in our rented apartment for three days. On the second day we were so cold that we decided to warm up in the car of a real-estate agent, since we wanted to buy a house eventually, and it seemed like as good a time as any to begin looking. Not only did we stay warm house-hunting, but by the end of the third day of no power we had bought a house! It was a lovely home for us for the next three years.

Natasha said...

That happened in Eastern Canada over Christmas. All the creaks and thuds, and laying awake hoping a tree doesn't fall on your house...scary! Glad to hear everything is back to normal in Georgia, here's praying it stays that way!