Fractured Facade

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Monday, January 21, 2013

First Night Without Power

While the kids were scrambling around the house searching for, then gathering and lighting candles and flashlights, I called Roanoke County police to let them know there was a tree and pole down, blocking the road. I stressed the importance of getting some sort of road block sign up as there were electrical cables in the snow, cars were still trying to get up the hill, and one vehicle had wires draped across it. You can see the abandoned car's lights on the left.

Next I called Appalachian Power to let them know what was going on. My last call was to my husband. The day before he had fired up the generator and discovered it wasn't working. We had never used it, but decided last year to buy one, "just in case." Luckily for us he fixed it that very morning, but it was still at the shop. Everything was fine in Salem, but once I told him what was going on in the County he quickly closed the shop and loaded the generator.

It just so happened that many of my Christmas gifts to the family was based upon dealing with a "disaster." Oh, how they laughed at me when they opened their tarps, oil lanterns, car power chargers, flashlights, batteries, hand warmers, blankets, and gas cans. Who was laughing now???

As I assessed the situation outside, a neighbor told me it was just our side of the street that was left without power. One by one I heard the generators fire up all around me. I also heard the whirring of wheels as cars realized they could not get up the hill and attempted to make a U-turn on the ice. You would think they would have noticed one vehicle already stranded with wires on top of it. But they didn't.

It took a couple of hours before the Fire Dept. showed up and placed orange cones at the bottom of the hill, the top of the hill, and at the two streets that fed into the blocked road. I figured we would be a top priority, not only because there were wires everywhere, but the road was blocked and there was the elementary school at the foot of the hill. My daughter then reminded me that Monday was a holiday, and Friday the County schools had been already called closed. I didn't know about Bella, as she was confused by the darkness and scurrying, but I figured we humans would be okay and could handle a couple of days without power.

My husband finally made it home after stopping at the supermarket for survival supplies -- soda, wine and matches. The generator was not an industrial strength one, but would be good enough to supply us with some lights and a television. We couldn't hook it up to the heater as that went through our fuse box. He and my son went to work on getting it running. 75-foot industrial orange-colored extension cords snaked throughout the house. Eureka! It worked!

The next order of business was trying to save what food we could in the freezer and refrigerator. We got a couple of coolers out of the shed and filled it up with all the ice from the freezer. My one command was, "Save the Breakstone Butter!" I still had three tubs that my brother had brought down from Brooklyn and no way was I losing that. We hoped that as long as we didn't open up the freezer or fridge the stuff would last until morning, at which time my husband would pack it up and bring it to the shop's refrigerator.

Meanwhile, the fallen tree was creating a hazard as folks would go up to it to see what a fallen tree looks like. If I happened to be outside grabbing a smoke and I saw someone getting too close I would warn them about the wires. Frankly, I didn't know if they were live or what, but I didn't want to see anyone stepping on one to find out. I noticed someone had even buried a big jug of brown liquid in the snow next to my mailbox. I didn't know what the heck it was -- gas, apple pie, iced tea? I left it there in case they returned to gaze some more at the fallen tree.

I was getting cold and tired of being the sheriff of Oak Grove so I didn't venture outdoors any more. We all settled down to watch the latest Harry Potter DVD, but I fell asleep. When I went into bed I couldn't stand the sound of the generator outside and asked my husband to make sure it was shut off when they finished. There was no reason to keep it on while we slept. The house wasn't that cold as the heat had been running all day so we got extra blankets and everyone slept in their own rooms. Bella warmed my feet. I figured we could handle one night of this.

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