Thursday, December 21, 2006

The power of Power

On Thursday night last week, a major wind storm rocked most of Western Washington, including our house in Bellevue. We knew it was coming, so I was half-awake listening to things blowing around like crazy. I kept hoping no trees would fall on the house, but every time I heard a crash, I would wake up and look out the window to see what fell.

Turns out, most of the damage done to our house was to the fence. This is after I went outside and propped a few sections back up (with fallen trees or 2*4s), but 3 or 4 sections of the fence came down and took those little Christmas trees with them.

Our power went out and I knew this was going to be serious, so I drove to work, hoping to use the internet there to find a hotel room. As I wound around the corners of our little community, I noticed a lot of downed trees and power lines.

I tried to make a left onto the street to the freeway, but it was blocked by a giant tree too. This picture was taken later in the day when I got home. By that time, there was a flagger from DOT out there trying to direct traffic. The flaggers gave up after the first day and just left stop signs, which people kept moving.

Going to work was tough. Traffic sucked. I got there and the power was out at work, so I drove to some of our other buildings to check those. It seems the power was out there too. I was on empty, but every gas station I passed was out of power too. Heather said there was a gas station open across from her work, so I headed back towards Bellevue, hoping I would make it to the gas station before I ran out. I did, only to be greated by a nice long line of cars.

Nearly two hours later, I finally got gas.

By that point, all the hotels in the area were booked up, so Heather and I knew we'd have to stay at home. I parked at her office and walked back to the grocery store to buy some things we'd need in case the power was out a couple of days. I had left home for work before 8am and it was now after 1. By 230 or so, I had gotten some groceries and walked back to Heather's work where I had some food for the first time that day.

I drove home next. When I got there, I walked around looking for the culprit that had severed the power in our neighborhood. Here it was:

Seeing as how it's in the middle of winter, the temperature indoors had already dipped below 50. We had some flaslights and some candles, but opted to head over to Craig's house as he had just purchased a generator. His power was out too, but thanks to the generator, we watched some movies and had dinner. We headed home after 10pm and bundled up with as many blankets as we could pile on the bed. It was a cold night, but we survived ok.

Saturday, we got up early, broke out the Star Wars costumes and did the annual Garrison Titan Child's Play toy drive. We had 14 shopping carts filled with toys donated to us by friendly shoppers (most of whom were probably without power too). When we got done, Craig called us and told us that his power was back on, so we could borrow his generator. We hooked it up that night, hooked up a space heater to it and slept quite comfortably.

Sunday morning, it was 39 degrees indoors, except in our warm room. We spent Sunday morning searching for breakfast and doing a little Christmas shopping, then I spent the rest of the day helping Mike move. Waited in two more 30 minute gas lines to get gas for the generator that day. All the food in the fridge had spoiled by then, but we hooked it up to the generator anyway.

Monday, still no power. I went back to work where it was warm and there was internet. Heather figured out how to hook the TV up to the generator so we watched a movie that night.

Tuesday we STILL had no power, but we ordered a pizza and stayed in yet again. I figured out that staying at work until 7 or 8 isn't so bad if you don't have a warm home to go back to. Plus....traffic is much better.

Wednesday we were on our 6th day with no power. The generator costs 36 bucks a day to run so it's been an expensive space heater. Still cheaper than a motel though. We had just been discussing what we'd do if it stayed out until Christmas (which Puget Sound Energy said was a possibility) when it finally came back on sometime late Wednesday evening.

Last night, I resisted the urge to turn on every light in the house....but I did turn on the Christmas tree for only the 3rd night since we've had it. It finally felt like Christmas again. I remarked to Heather that I would kind of miss the last few days we'd had, holed up in the one warm room of the house....disconnected from the internet, TV and phones.

It's nice to finally be able to take a shower with the lights on though.

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