We rode out
hurricane tropical storm Irene without much of a problem. I don’t want to say it wasn’t bad—that was some serious wind we got—but the worst part (for us) really was waiting. Waiting while watching the storm move up the coast. Waiting about fifteen hours for the winds to start after the first soaking downpours dropped an inch of water in twenty minutes. Waiting to see if we were going to get water in our attic or basement overnight. Waiting for the end of the wind before going outside to survey the damage to our trees and neighborhood. Waiting thirteen hours for the power to come back on.
We were fortunate and escaped without any damage. We did need to put a couple of buckets in the attic near our chimney, since wind-blown water was coming through the flashing around it on the roof, but the amount of water that got in seems minor. (Add “Call a roofer” to my list of things to do.) A few small branches fell off our trees but nothing major. Our neighbors a few houses down had a tree fall from their backyard onto their roof, and about noon we heard an enormous THUD! in the distance as if someone had exploded something or felled a 30-foot tree. No actual explosion happened, but the people with the 30-foot pine lying diagonally in their yard were so lucky because it narrowly missed their beautiful Victorian house, their outbuilding, and even their smaller fruit trees.
There was almost a festive atmosphere as people spilled out into the neighborhood yesterday afternoon around 2:00 when the rain ended and the wind gusts dipped to around 20 MPH. (The eye didn’t go directly over us, but we had a lull nonetheless.) We walked around surveying how other people made it through the storm, saw some new ponds in backyards and lots of downed branches, and talked to our neighbors. After being cooped up for twenty-four hours, everyone seemed to be outdoors. “You can tell that the power’s out,” Lisa observed.
Our power flickered in the mid-morning but stayed on. I had predicted that we would lose power for about three hours, but it stayed on as the winds grew stronger. (Eventually they would gust to around 60-70 MPH in our neighborhood around the time of the tree “explosion.”) But then as the storm peaked—at the same time that the cycling race I was watching on TiVo started to get really good— the power went out, came back on for a moment, and then stayed off for good.
“Okay,” I thought, “three hours. By 4:00 PM the lights should be back on, we can make a hot dinner later, and we won’t have lost anything in the fridge.” I alternated between reading the Sunday paper and getting up to change batteries in beeping smoke alarms. After our walk, Lisa and I played a game of Trivial Pursuit. An hour later, Lisa went for a longer walk while I cleaned house a bit. Most of the power to the north of us was back on by the time she returned home, but there were streets blocked off with downed lines, too.
By 6:00 PM it didn’t look like power would be coming back immediately, so we got in the car and drove to get some dinner, which we brought home and ate by candlelight. At 7:30 it was dark, and we did our best to keep ourselves entertained for another couple hours before the battery on my laptop ran out—which stopped us from finishing our DVD—and we gave up for the day.
Overnight there was a surprising amount of additional wind (without rain) that shook the house and woke us up. Sometime around 3:00 AM the power came back on. Driving around this morning on the way to work I saw just a little wind damage, but I suspect the story is different on the backroads. One of the three buildings in The MathWorks complex is still without power with no estimate for when it will be back. Roughly 20% of the Commonwealth is still without power this morning.
All told, I feel very lucky that we made out with so little damage and cleanup work, but I know it’s not the case for everybody. It was Lisa and my first hurricane, and I’ve seen enough to know that I don’t care to have another one come along anytime soon. It’s just so nerve-wracking, waiting to see what might happen. Being without electricity is the pits, too. But we survived!
Pictures to follow.