As Hurricane Sandy attacks the East Coast and threatens to cripple cities from Washington DC to New York and on into New England, the timing is almost eerie. It was exactly 12 months ago that a freak October blizzard wiped out power to the majority of Connecticut and many surrounding states. And now millions of people brace for a potential encore. The memories may be a year old, but they are still fresh in my mind.
Saturday, October 29th, 2011, the driving winds and swirling snow started several hours earlier than the forecasters predicted. My first sign of trouble was the huge tree blocking the only road out of my neighborhood when I tried to leave for work. Because a snow plow was also trapped, firefighters came quickly to saw the tree in pieces and move it out of the way. But that was only the beginning. My 20 mile trek to work included steering off the paved road to get around downed trees and power lines. The strangest part was the utter darkness the whole way. It was pitch black until I reached ESPN, an oasis of generated light.
After my shift, I tried to get home, but it was far too dangerous with dangling live wires and unstable trees rendering roads impassable. Would you believe I found a quiet studio at ESPN Radio and spent the night on the floor? Of course, I couldn’t sleep, wondering what happened at my house. I live in the woods, and any number of trees could’ve blown through my windows. By mid-morning on Sunday, the sun was shining on 2 feet of fresh snow, and I was deteremined to see the aftermath firsthand. Not without coffee, though. I’ll never forget my joy and relief at finding the ESPN Starbucks open despite the storm. Ha! I felt the same way when I finally pulled into my driveway to find my house intact, although it was just the start of a full week without electricity.
At night, temperatures dipped down to 41 degrees inside, but thankfully, I had enough wood to burn in my wood stove all week. And rather than let my food spoil, I fired up my grill and cooked outside for 8 hours! Chicken, eggs, vegetables – pretty much everything I had in the refrigerator and freezer. I was really proud of myself on that day! But other than Tuesday spent cooking, my activity was limited. No TV, no laptop, very little time on the phone since I couldn’t charge it. The week was quiet and simple at a much slower pace. I had a built-in excuse to stay under the covers until 1pm. Too cold to do anything else until the afternoon sun allowed me to peel off my multiple layers.
The little things helped me get through – my brother emailing every morning to check on me, a dance party to Lady Gaga’s Edge of Glory, coffee runs to find out what businesses had reopened, milk buried in the snow outside, shoveling alongside neighbors while swapping stories, reading by candlelight, and some unbelievable pictures of a winter wonderland in October. It was a major feat: surviving a week without electricity and the everyday conveniences we take for granted.
For seven days last fall, I felt like a pioneer woman; and even though I started screaming when I realized my lights were finally working again, I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. So as Sandy approaches with all her fury and uncertainty, my only response is BRING IT ON!! Woooo!