Monday, September 9, 2019

Adventures with Dorian

By the light of a headlamp
Hurricane Dorian was here.

A day and a night of strong wind and heavy rain, the power went out just after supper time. Don't often see the world that dark. There was enough rain that the sump pump kicked in mid-afternoon but it stopped when the power went out. Note to self, get a generator to keep the sump pump going when it needs to.

On Sunday all was sunny and clear with a bit of a cool breeze. I went walking around town to see how things fared. No electricity anywhere, all the shops closed except one convenience store. I talked to the women who worked there, they got coffees from the Fire Department and kept the store open all day for anyone who could pay cash. I went to a friend's house and we walked through a ravine to the Reservoir with our dogs, we had to bushwack the trail because of so many downed trees. Between his bad hip and my bad knee it was kind of ludicrous, us clambering over and under and through the bushes. The dogs just traipsed on through, waiting for us up ahead on the trail. At the Reservoir it wasn't quite so bad, we ran into two groups of students having picnic breakfasts there.

On my way home I had to go around a tree blocking the road, another friend drove up and stopped to chat. I said how it was impossible to find coffee in this town and she said she had some, why didn't I come to her place. I had to take Hapi home first and then we drove to my friend C's place. I've known C a long time, we were both single parents back in the '80s in this town. She stayed, I left. Now she lives in a housing co-op for seniors. They have a generator, so in all the hallways are electric outlets powered by the generator. People were charging phones, running their fridges off long extension cords, and of course boiling water for coffee. C's apartment was small but really nice, she is very happy there. Even though the rent is very low she still has to work to afford to get by. We talked about that and I told her about my friend B, she told me about a mutual friend L who is also in dire straits. C has her health, she could probably get by without working if she didn't have a car, but the car is a lifeline for her.

Later C took me for a tour of the co-op. It consists of several buildings on a large campus, they have a vegetable garden and numerous flower gardens. In the main building is the Lounge (the common room) and two libraries, fiction and non-fiction. C is in charge of the libraries. There's a small gym, a craft room and a woodworking room. They have a rack of shared bicycles. When we stopped by the Lounge there were a bunch of people there, one of the residents had made a large pot of chicken soup and it was being shared. I had a little bit. There was a man visiting his Mom who lived there. He'd been evacuated out of his apartment building in Halifax because of Dorian. He recognized C, he went to school with C's son and used to come by their place all the time.

C was going to drive me home but something came up so I walked. Saw lots more trees down. Most of them were uprooted, the rain softened the ground and the wind whipped those trees right out. I saw one tree that was easily three feet in diameter on its side. I saw another tree that looked like it had been folded down. Lots of trucks and tree fellers out working, quite a few generators humming away. With the power down there was no reason to stay home so lots of people were out walking or driving around. I hear there's a shortage of gas now. A wheel bearing is out on my car so I don't want to drive it till it gets repaired. That was scheduled for tomorrow and with the power out I wasn't sure it was going to happen. But tonight I heard that the garage has power now and they're planning to fix my car tomorrow.

So 400,000 homes lost power all over the province, about 80% of the population. By Sunday night half those homes were back online and tonight well over 3/4 of them are back up. I'm on the same grid as the university and they were a high priority so I got my power back by noon on Sunday. People on the west side of town were next because there's a medical clinic and a bunch of nursing homes out that way. The east side was the last to get power.

Here's a funny thing. My brother on the west coast was diagnosed with liver cancer (not the funny thing) and he has been undergoing treatment, the second treatment was this past week and on Saturday during the hurricane I phoned him while I still had power. He was doing okay and was optimistic about his prospects. We talked about the hurricane and I told him about the online power outage map so he looked it up and saw how many places in this province were down. He watched the hurricane on, he could see it heading for Halifax (it made landfall about the time I lost power). On Sunday while I was at C's place I got a text from him saying that Acadia University had power, but he wasn't sure about my street. I texted back that I was going there to see. So I found out I had electric power from my brother on the west coast, that's the funny thing.

Today I went to the Reservoir and all the trees have been cleared off the trails. I met two friends, one with power and one without. the one without is in a building with an elevator that wasn't working. She's 93 so going up and down all the stairs to her 3rd floor condo can't have been easy. Plus her garage has an electric door so she had to find a tall man to open it for her manually. But she made it. She said she met a young person recently who asked if she could call her "a tough old bird" and she said she could. She was proud to be "a tough old bird".

In the afternoon I went to my needlework group that was meeting in a home that didn't have power but did have a generator. We all talked about our various states of electrification and how many trees we had down, et cetera. Our host told me about small generators you can buy just to run a sump pump (they have a sump pump too). One of the women in the group goes to the same church as my friend B so I spoke to her about B's situation. She told me she'd see what she could do, she was very concerned about B but hadn't seen or heard from her in a while.

"Why hasn't she asked us for help?"

"I don't know, she said something about the church being in trouble and she didn't want to disturb them."

Well they're going to try. Strictly speaking they're not supposed to because B lives outside their parish now, but it's a small church and everyone knows everyone and B has been a member there for a long time.

1 comment:

Wisewebwoman said...

So many seniors in trouble financially, eking out a living. We are getting stories too.

Your account of the storm is excellent, I was walking with you.