Saturday, June 27, 2009

Power's Out

Yesterday we had a thunderstorm. There was dry lightning for a while before the skies opened up and poured upon the earth. Within minutes it looked like the street had been flooded, but there were also incredible winds. I stood at the window watching and without feeling a draft, the door behind me slammed suddenly. Next, I heard two bangs, like gunshots (not that I've ever heard gunshots anywhere but in the movies), and the power went out. A few minutes later the hail started. It's hard to tell how big they were, but my conservative estimate is the diameter of a nickel. The winds and rain died down quickly, though it was still raining and there was still lightning. Soon people started gathering outside to assess the situation. The power was still out. This is what we saw:
You can see it was still raining, and to the left is a downed telephone pole, crossing the street. That explains the power outage. The next pole over, in the middle of the panorama, that pole is leaning. It is leaning because the pole to its right was toppled by a tree, now lying in the street.

It's pretty clear the power is going to be out for a while. B started up his generator, supposedly to keep the fridge cold, but once that was taken care of I found him watching the Golf Channel for an update. (Besides the obvious reason, this is pretty ridiculous: the PGA tour is in CT this weekend, so they were obviously rained out at the same time we were.) We ran the generator long enough to microwave our dinners, bring the fridge down to near-freezing, and watch a movie. Then B turned off the generator and I lit a candle to read by.

By the way, the internet is also out. We have DSL, and since they phone is out, so is the internet, even if I plugged it into the generator. My computer is on a battery and is currently charging on the generator. I'm hoping to go somewhere with free internet later today to post this.

Here's a more complete panorama I took this morning:

Click to zoom in. Our house is on the far left, brick obscured by trees. Next over is the white building, offices. Between that building and the brick apartment building to its right is the first downed telephone pole. In the photo left, you can see where it snapped (red circle) and where the wires were pulled from the building (blue circle). Following the wires across the street, you can see the leaning pole (and the top is lopped off from an error in Photoshop's panorama function). The wires keep going to the right until they are lost under the tree. Incredibly, telephone poles on the other side of the tree look fine.

We aren't blocked in, though it appears that a couple of neighbors can't get their cars out of their driveways. B is off to play golf (hoping it doesn't rain again this afternoon), and I'm debating a Zumba class at the gym. (I am not convinced that it's actually exercise.) The generator is running for a couple of hours this morning to re-cool the fridge. The electric company says they expect to restore power by 6pm tomorrow. B is doubtful.

More pictures:

Blocked street

Generator running

Extension cord from generator to house

Branch apparently fell on old truck

No damage to garden

Happy tomatoes

Post Script: After driving around a bit to find free internet and electricity, I decided that the damage is mostly local. I saw a few blocked roads and most of the strip mall stores surrounding the mall were closed (no electricity), but not the mall itself, interestingly. The strangest thing is that some areas showed obvious signs of the storm: lawns littered with branches, twigs, and leaves, but others looked pristine, like they didn't get it at all. And it's not that some people already cleaned up their yards, either. I ended up going South to the Newington Public Library, where no evidence of the storm exists. It's like the Twilight Zone here.

Edited to Add: Not 60 seconds before I was ready to upload this entry, the library wireless went out. Loathe to ask a librarian for help using the internet (as opposed to finding books), I tried to find a better location. Unsuccsessful, I drove back home, intending to use my charged battery with the wireless at my local library, which, it turns out, is also without power and therefore internet. To make a long story short (too late), I couldn't find free internet (or really, any internet) in the area. After a few hours moping at home, the phone rang. Apparently the phone works, though the electricity is still out. I plugged the modem into the generator and here I am. Workers are installing new telephone poles slowly but surely. I'll update with pictures when I'm less frustrated.

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