So, That’s A Derecho
I headed out soon after the storm passed Friday night. Driving was tricky but not too bad that first night due to a lack of traffic. A mile or so down the road I happened past this location just as EMS was finishing up. It was pretty clear no one had survived from the looks of the car.
But as long as you kept your eyes on the road for debris, or the occasional tree, and were careful due to the complete lack of traffic lights, you could get around. It began as any thunderstorm might. I opened and looked out the window when I noticed the wind sounded particularly strong; that's when I heard the proverbial freight train sound often associated with a tornado and I began to hear debris bouncing off the roof of the house. I realized at that point, this was not your usual weather event.
There were from 6 – 8 large poles down in a row along this stretch of road.
Story link - two died locally, though I'm only now learning the details: A 27-year-old Burke man, Khiet Hguyen, died when a tree fell directly on top of his car …. He was declared dead at the scene of the accident. A 90-year-old West Springfield woman who was lying in bed died when a tree fell on her home….
A major highway was closed and barricaded a half-mile from here. The gas stations and convenience stores were dark and closed; yet, across the street, a strip mall was spared and I was the only customer in a CVS, scoring gold – a bag of ice for the mini-fridge you wouldn't be able to get anywhere by 10 AM the next day. One bag keeps things chilled in there for close to two days.
A combination 7/11 and gas station were open just up the road. I got what I needed and, again, by morning, there were cars and people lined up for both. If you take a high intensity pen-light flashlight (2 double A batteries), stand it in a cup and point it at the ceiling, it'll keep a good sized room lit for 2-3 nights. Mine never ran down.
All in all, we managed pretty well here, though we didn't really sleep for two days after the first night due to the heat. The house retained some cool air the first night. It was gone by the second night. Outside, there was a dead calm and the air wouldn't turn over inside the house, even though it was 10 – 15 degrees cooler out there.
The worst part was a sick dog that had been at the Vet's early Friday and I couldn't get her antibiotics, though I did have pet pain killers and doggie valium they had given me to calm her down before test results came back. I kept her drugged, otherwise, she whimpered in discomfort, not pain, the whole time. She was driving me nuts!
Pugs are notoriously intolerant of heat and will pant incessantly until you think they might explode. I packed them in the car and drove around for an hour or so with the air conditioning on to cool them down during the day. That second night I sat in the driveway with the air on for them for two hours from 3 – 5 am, during which they finally slept and I listened to news and music on the radio.
I would have packed up the car and headed for a motel but based on news reports, I had no idea which direction to drive in and, from the sound of it, could have driven all the way to NJ before I found some place not filled up. Except for dealing with them, I was fine – just splashed cool water on my head, shoulders and back whenever the heat got to be too much.
Three days was enough, though. I had pretty much what I needed to get by, or you could get it by then. This was not a catastrophic event, as some homes, public buildings and stores of all stripes within driving distance were spared. Had this been truly catastrophic, say like an EMP attack? I'm fairly convinced the whole thing would have started to come apart pretty fast. You could tell by how many people reacted.
Finally, as I emailed to Glenn aka Instapundit when I got back online, without even knowing at the time he's been on something of an air conditioning kick – the country may survive Barack Obama, but the republic will never survive without air conditioning as it stands today. I'm absolutely convinced of that. As bad as the storm was, it was the heat that would have emerged as the real killer had this thing gone on, or been much worse.
As for this Derecho thing I never heard of before, I could do without another one anytime, soon. I learned that much over the last few days, as well. There was also something else but I'm not quite sure what that is at this point, or even if it'll amount to much. It may. An event like this does focus you, somehow – gives you a certain perspective it's easy to lose sight of day-to-day. It also reinforced an old Clint Eastwood line from Magnum Force, believe it, or not: "a man's got to know his limitations."
Strange, perhaps. But I guess it was a teachable moment, or held a few of them, in some ways. I'm simply not altogether sure what else, if anything, I learned for now. I guess over time, maybe I'll find out. It was an interesting three days.
Maybe gratitude has something to do with it. It almost sounds silly, now. But if you're sitting there suffering somehow, large or small – and trust me, people were and still are from this …. The minute it all came back on, when you heard and felt that air conditioning kick on and you knew you could take a hot shower, again – or just go to the refrigerator for a cold drink, or something you wanted to eat? Strange as it may sound to you, there's a gratitude, a beauty in that moment you can only hope to never forget. Imagine that? Hmm. What can I say? It was an experience. Leave it at that.
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