The road home. Under the tree is a power line, and under the water is our road.

Irene and I didn’t start off on the best foot.  Thanks to her intrusion, I had to move my son’s birthday party from Saturday evening to Friday night.  Might not sound like a big deal to most, but losing a day when you have a cake to bake and decorate isn’t fun.  Plus, I felt as if we were rushing his party, which is silly because he never knew the difference, but it’s a mom thing. It’s also trivial, and in the great scheme of things it’s not so bad to have something less than serious on your mind right before the potential to have your home wiped off the map.

Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration.  My house has been here for sixty years now and surely it’s seen worse than what Irene had to offer. And for each of those years there have been ginormous trees standing over it (well, they’ve grown over the years, but at 100-150′ tall, they’ve been around longer than the house) BUT you never know when one will topple, so we left our house for the storm in favor of my mom’s.  It was a hard decision to make at first, considering a week prior to Irene’s landfall we put 165 lbs of meat in the deep freezer, but as the track narrowed on us and the 80 – 90 m.p.h. wind forecast stuck, we headed west … about five miles west, LOL, to a home without trees overhead.

To actually experience a hurricane borders between terrifying and no biggie. The distinction usually depends on what happens during the storm. If you’re sitting there with electricity watching the journalists being blown around on the news, the biggest problem is an undercurrent of unease for what *might* happen. With that connection, you feel some sort of control. When it’s gone – when the power goes out – you feel very much alone, even in a room full of nine people. Fortunately or otherwise, our power at my mom’s didn’t go out until after the worst had passed. There was a Billy the Exterminator rerun on and my six kids had just gotten into a brew-ha-ha over who got to hold which flashlight when I uttered the following fateful words:

The other road home. Whew!

“If the power hasn’t gone out yet, I really don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

Which, apparently, was the cue for the power to go out.  Because it did–within thirty seconds. SIGH.

Let’s backtrack a little.  Friday night, after the party, my mom took three of the kids home with her so the rest of us could come in the big truck.  Its ability to go through high (standing) water and conquer fallen trees far exceeds that of my minivan. (The chainsaw my H put in the toolbox helps with the latter task, but that’s beside the point.  Stay with me, wouldya?)  Sunday morning we set off with the three older kids in the truck to  see if we could make it home–part morbid curiosity and part desire to save the meat in the freezer.

The photo at the top of the page is what we encountered when we got to our road. There’s a bridge under that water and a power line under that tree. And apparently the tree fell *before* we drove under it while leaving Saturday morning? Obviously not, but the timing is odd. The neighbors said the power went out between 10:30 and 11:00. When our power came back on (day 4), the stove blinked 10:47, which would be the time the power went out.  I called my mom to tell her we were on our way from my cell phone at 10:45 on the nose. The tree was about half a mile down the road, and I called her while we were in the driveway. Considered we had 30 m.p.h. winds at the time, we took it easy. All of this leaves me thinking we could have looked behind us and watched the tree fall, because there’s no way our power stayed on beyond that point with the lines ripped loose. (The flood came later, lol).

Fortunately we had another way home, so we turned around and took the second option (the photo with the old white house). When we got home, we didn’t have any damage to speak of. There were some big limbs down, but they ended up in the middle of the yard, no harm done. Before we left Saturday morning, part of of the metal barn roof peeled up, but the H fixed that then which probably kept the rest of the roof on the building. And the best news–short of not having a tree laying across the house–was our freezer was still frozen solid.  Even the little freezer over the fridge hung in there. We’d packed it with two liter bottles of water so it had help, but the ice didn’t even melt together (it still had little holes in it, too) so we only lost a few things in the fridge.

The damage at home.

Then the fun began: the wait. Last time we took a direct blow from a hurricane, it took ten days to get our power back. This time we had generators, so we were in better shape, but we cut power to the hot water heater, the washer and dryer, and the stove/oven to ease the burden on the generator. Overall, not a big deal, but it was sure nice to get “real” power back – the kind that didn’t go off every four hours or so for refueling, lol. And there was the minor issue of my not wanting to run the computers off generator power. I missed you all, but it wasn’t worth the risk. ;c)

The kids barely noticed the lack of power. They play outside all the time anyway, and now they have some huge branches which make fantastic fort material and lots of extra gumballs on the ground for ammo. (One kid took a gumball to the eye, but with every war, there are casualties, LOL). The biggest difference was the cold shower at the end of the day, but all things considered, we were very, very lucky…gumball to the eye notwithstanding. Or that glass of milk I found on the counter after three days–that’s not standing either.  Or rather it IS. Have you seen milk after three days in 80 degree humidity?  Ish!

It’s so easy to put the storm behind you when the lights come on and everything is back to normal, but thousands of people won’t know normal for weeks or months to come, if ever. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.