What was left of Hurricane Ike barreled through Ohio on Sunday, September 14, 2008.
Sunday, 9/14/2008: Day One
I went out in the morning and weed whacked and took care of my lawn. It was windy, but nothing too unusual, that is until about 1ish. That’s when the winds kicked up. These were the scariest winds I’d ever experienced. They gusted to 60 to 70 miles per hour from about 1pm to about 6pm. I brought mom her lunch about 2ish and noticed that my car shook when I was idling at the stoplight and that leaves sounded like pebbles pelting my car. Then I wen to my cousin’s house where I saw a large tree down that blocked their street at one end. As I was leaving, I saw a couple walking and had the woman be a tad slower, she would’ve been killed by a large branch that crashed down on the sidewalk right behind her!
I got home to find my cable was out and as I was chatting with my buddy on the phone about his lack of power, I lost my power just after 4 pm. I figured since the winds were so bad that they wouldn’t start repairs until at least 6 pm when they were supposed to subside. So I took advantage of the time by taking a nap. I thought I would be in luck for dinner since I had a gas stove so I got up from my nap and poured a frozen skillet meal into the skillet and turned the gas onto the stove and remembered that I had electric igniters on my stove. So much for a hot dinner, I ended up having dry Frosted Cheerios.
As the winds pounded my neighborhood, I worried how my new roof (installed in May of this year) would hold up). I think I ran outside every time I heard a crack! sound. Luckily, my roof made it through just fine. The only damage I had was minor. A large loose limb that I needed to trim off my peach tree came down as did a ton of branches. My landline snapped off at the pole. But I don’t have landline service, so that didn’t bother me at all. Well, almost, as I chatted the evening away on my cell phone, my battery was getting quite low. My hope was that I could charge it up at work the next day.
Monday, 9/15/2008: Day Two
So I wasn’t able to set my alarm clock since it had no power. I wasn’t able to set my cell phone because the battery was low and I turned it off for the night. So I got out my old Timex watch and used that to tell the time overnight and somehow I was able to wake up on my own a little before 8 am (my normal work day getting up time). I got dressed for work like normal because as an upscale grocery store, my day job never really shuts down. So I figured it would be business as usual. I went out and picked up all the sticks and collected them into a pile to break down later and did a bit of sweeping up. As I was sweeping, a neighbor passed by and we chatted and she said that she heard that it would take 2-5 days to get everyone’s power back on. I was in disbelief! “Nah, don’t tell me that!” I joked. If only I knew.
I was running a bit late for work now, so I hopped in my car and remembered that my cell phone was off. I turned it on to find a text message from work telling me not to report, no power. So I turned my car around (I was almost at work by this time) and headed to Meijer to pick up a car charger for my cell phone before it completely died on me. The first thing I noticed (other than the fact that 90% of the stoplights I had encountered so far did not work) was that the Meijer sign was gone, another victim of Hurricane Ike. When I arrived at the electronics department, I saw quite a few people milling about and discovered they had all plugged into the power strips to charge their electronics. Very clever, but I didn’t want to hang out at Meijer for 2-3 hours while my cell phone charged. Luckily, they still had a charger for my phone in stock. I bought a newspaper for the first time in years. From first glances, it appeared that the newspaper had lost power too since the paper was smaller and on the front it appeared they consolidated all the local papers into one edition. When I left Meijer, I noticed the line at the nearby McDonald’s was HUGE. I’ve never seen a line like that at that McDonald’s.
I had decided on my way over to Meijer that since work was closed today, I would drive around (while my cell phone charged) and take photos of the damage. So with my trusty camera in hand, I snapped some shots of the missing Meijer sign and the line at the McDonald’s and headed out for more shots.
As I drove around, it appeared that overall the damage was mostly trees, at least in my part of town. I also noticed the most of the stoplights appeared to be out across much of my area. It appeared to be very random, one block the stoplights would be on, the next they would be out. It was kinda eerie/odd driving around. The cloudy day also added a very somber mood. I drove past the Meijer again and saw that the lines for fas were pretty long and I was low on gas. I held out, though and found a gas station with pretty short lines.
I noticed that hot items were ice, flashlights, lanterns, D batteries, and coolers. The shelves at all of our local stores were wiped clean. The other thing I noticed was a distinct lack of utility trucks.
After driving around for awhile, I was getting hungry and my phone was pretty well charged so I headed back home and ate while trying to think of what to do next. Then it hit me…I could see a movie if the theater had power! So I headed over and sure enough, my local movie theater had not lost power! I saw the excellent move, Burn After Reading, which helped to brighten my mood on such an unfun day.
On the way home, I gave up and took the easy way out, I stopped at the still packed McDonald’s and got dinner. Once I got home and the darkness was settling in, I was running out of ideas on what do to. Then it hit me, I had a wooded train kit that I received at the Creative Freelancer’s Conference in August. My friend and speaker and all around awesome logo dude Jeff Fisher had been kind enough to give me the last one at the conference. So I decided now was a great time to put it together!
Tuesday, 9/16/2008: Day Three
Well, work was still without power on Tuesday, but I volunteered to come in and help prep the store for re-opening. That meant throwing way a lot of food that had gone bad as well as helping clear some tree limbs. As I was helping with the trees limbs, a co-worker used his truck to pull off a big limb. We hooked his truck up for limb number 2 and he drive forward and the back of the truck actually left the ground like in cartoons! What I wouldn’t have given to have had my camera handy. I told him to stop because I noticed that he was starting to pull the whole tree down into a power line. Luckily disaster was averted. While at work, I got a call from some friends who invited me to dinner that evening. How could I resist dinner with people who had power? (Literally, they had electricity, what a treat!)
Thanks to a very kind neighbor, she gave me what was left of her large bag of ice and it was such a treat to have a cold drink.
My friends offered me their washer and dryer and at this point I took them up on it since I was beginning to feel as if power might not return. It was great to visit and see my friends as well as to check my e-mail and to have lights after dark. It was also great to spend time with my godson (one of my friends’ three children).
Then I headed home, hopeful that I might have electricity. My hopes faded the closer I got to home as the same exact street lights that had been out on Monday were still out. And then I turned onto my block. Pitch black. I had to use my brights to navigate my own street! I admit, it was a bit depressing to return home.
My house and neighborhood were so very quiet without power. It was kind nice. I continued work on my wooden train. I realized that it must have been something like this for the pioneers. Dark nights in their homes with a bit of light to work by after nightfall and just so very quiet. What a disruption it must have been when the first electric light appeared. And the telephone. That must have scared a lot of people. If you were used to this dark, quiet world after dark, the sound of a telephone ringer in a lit room must have been shocking and awe inspiring at the time.
Wednesday 9/17/2008: Day Four
Work finally had power restored, so I went into the office for a full day. Still no power at home, so I took my cellphone and ipod to charge. It was nice to get back into a part of my normal routine. And it was good to hear from people that had lost power and had it restored, it gave me hope that they were really working on the problem. I was still a bit depressed about the thought of going home. I ended up running some errands and eating out to postpone going home (and to get something done). I was getting pretty frustrated at the lack of power at this point. But I kept working on the little wooden train, it was almost done now and that helped make it all better. I also stared writing down my to-dos for when power would be restored so I could get back up to speed quickly.
Thursday 9/18/2008: Day Five
Another morning without power. I got up and went to a full day at work. I was feeling more confident about power being restored since areas all around my neighborhood were getting power back. I got home and tried the automatic garage door opener. It worked! I had power! I was so thrilled!
Boy, what an experience it was to not have power for so many days. It was frustrating, but at least my house was still there and not flooded out like the folks in Texas. I did find ways to occupy my time. And I discovered that although I didn’t feel connected without power and the internet, I was. I spent a lot of time talking to people: in person or on the phone. I did things outside. Now a power outage of a few hours won’t seem quite as bad ever again.
BTW, a nod here to Coleman. I bought their Compact Flourescent 4D Battery Lantern and it rocks! It went the whole time of my power outage on one set of batteries. The light output was great enough to light up my living room, not exactly daylight, but very nicely from such a little lantern. I highly recommend one! (This was not a paid advertisement, just giving due props to a great product.)