Aftermath

Well, we have survived the storm in style, minor damage that I’ll mention in a minute, a chance to be good neighbors. It was a great evening with a great storm.

At times the winds were so strong it sounded like a freight train was rushing by the house. The river was at its highest point for the year (about a foot or so below the surface or our driveway), although it’s gone down a bit now and I’m breathing a little easier.

Our house is about 3/4 mile (1.2 km for those friends in the British Isles) from the bridge where we cross the river. All but a tenth of a mile or so is ours, a privately maintained driveway. For about a tenth of a mile on our stretch, it runs between a fairly serious rockface and the Big Elk River. That tenth of a mile also contains the lowest spots on the drive. There are about four culverts in this section to drain springs, the largest of them being about 48 inches across. We’re talking serious water here before the river ever comes into play.

The wind blew until the wee hours of the morning, although we had only about an inch of rain. I got up at 6 a.m. and made coffee (the men had been up all night, chatting occasionally by our little radios because Ralph and Brenda’s phone hasn’t been installed yet), and the weather was actually calm. That is, it was until we suddenly started seeing huge lightning flashes so close that the lightning and thunder were virtually simultaneous and the biggest hail I’ve seen this side of Texas (about the size of kidney beans) started falling. It sounded as if angry protestors were stoning the house. Then everything calmed down.

Damage assessment: nothing we can’t live with. A few trees down, a lot of limbs, creating plenty of work for Ralph and Brenda on their trips back and forth (we call Brenda the “branch manager,” a position she actually used to hold, because of her skill with the wood chipper). Worst problem: Power lines down on the property (you may remember that we don’t connect to the power, but the power company has an easement across our property to serve the next house, which is the end of the power line from the west). At any rate, wires down in three places, two of them across our driveway. I’d planned to get a leaking tire fixed in town this morning, but it was clear I wasn’t going anywhere. So I had a great day of reading and wandering instead. Tonight the guys cut enough brush and limbs to lower the lines to the ground (I’m fairly sure they’re dead), so I’ll probably go get the tire fixed tomorrow. Or maybe wait until Monday. Ben keeps pumping it up, very slow leak, to keep it from being ruined by the weight of the truck riding on the sidewall. If he can stand it, I’m in no hurry.

But last night, when it was clear the storm was just starting, I started calling neighbors. The ones with the greenhouses had retreated to their town house and weren’t coming back out no matter what was going on. The next neighbor over said they were sitting in the dark and just enjoying the quiet. Then I called the new neighbors, just across the river from us practically, whom I’ve never met. The woman was there with two small children and one teenaged son (Kaleb is currently a local hero, but that’s a story for another post), and she sounded scared. I introduced myself and asked if she was OK. I could see that their lights were out, so I mentioned that we had a generator that wasn’t in use at the moment. She almost cried. The wood stove that used to be in the house is long gone. They have a pellet stove, which requires electricity for the fan to run. “We have no heat,” she said. The guys kicked into gear, took her the generator from the laundry room and five gallons of gas, and we all felt good all night.

I love our little community out here, and I’m glad we were able to make it a little better.

Only other casualty, at least so far: we had one of those stupid little plastic patio tables down by the garden. We keep it there to hold our cold drinks when we’re working. It’s anchored by a 7-lb. weight and normally accompanied by two plastic chairs. Ben drove the RTV around and picked up miscellaneous chairs and “stuff,” but he left the table, thinking it was secure with the weight on it.

This morning it was down by the river about 75 yards from its original location. One leg was 20 yards or so away. It clearly became airborn, hit a tree, and ended its life upside down  near the first “green” of our mythical golf course. Not a bad place to die, I suppose. The weight, an old truck piston head that Ben uses as an ashtray, had been tossed about 10 feet and ended up near the garden gate.

So there’s the news from the Big Elk for tonight. Still haven’t seen the power company, even though we left them a message that we were marooned, but after listening to the news, I suspect we’re very much among the least of their worries.

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2 Responses to “Aftermath”

  1. Armin Says:

    Love those stories, once I’ve made my fortune I’ll move to Islay and live in a remote house to blog about the storms. I think that’ll be nice, sitting in my wee cottage, sipping my wee dram of Islay Single Malt and hearing the storm howl around the building.

    I hear they had quite a few storms on Islay this winter and were cut off more often than usual.

    Oh, and we’re still using miles here in the UK 😉

    While at least theoretically everything else should be metric now (although in practice a lot of people still use imperial measures) distances are still in miles. There was some talk about switching that as well, but I think the costs are so huge they’ve put that on hold for a while.

  2. mklekacz Says:

    Funny, I swear I remember doing the mental translations, but it may just be a senior moment.

    As a fellow lover of single malt scotches (at least some of them), I’ll display my ignorance. Aren’t the Islay singles the very dark, smoky ones?

    Marianne

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