More Tornado Stuff

Literature Blogs

We’re still without internet — 11 days and counting. This is killing me. It’s difficult not to be able to communicate in my normal, daily way, using my normal, daily workspace. Right now, I’m using my husband’s work computer while he is off on a staff retreat. Which reminds me, thanks to the many people who have offered their homes for my internet communication addiction.

Before I speak about yesterday’s events, I want to say how furious I feel towards thieves, especially thieves who take advantage of tragedy victims. Strangers are canvasing our storm damaged neighborhoods, asking for down-payments for tree removal ($500 to $2,000), and then never returning. I knew of things happening like this from after Hurricane Katrina. I thought everyone knew that. Maybe not. Maybe it was just because I’d helped out down in Mississippi, and therefore heard lots and lots and lots of stories. But this I know, if any stranger comes to our door asking for a down-payment before work, he’d better have his cell phone ready for a 911 call because I’ll be all over that guy! (Actually, our trees are now off the house, and the rest in process of being removed, so these thieves probably won’t bother knocking on our door. Oooo. But if one does…)

Yesterday (Tuesday), three major things happened.

1) Our official insurance claims agent came out and spent three hours assessing our damaged property.

2) Garbage. I need to back up this story two days, to Monday. I called first the disconnected number in the phone book, let City Hall’s number ring 15 times, then called the number to ask for a dumpster, figuring they could direct my call. I was dead-set on speaking to someone about our missed garbage collection. I learned for the first time in living here seven years, that this job is outsourced, out-of-town. I was put on hold  for 45 minutes (not letting that wiggling fish at the end of the line get away this time), waiting, waiting, waiting, with no speaker phone. Four days previous, half of our street was collected. I can only assume tree removal and construction trucks blocked their way on our regular garbage collection morning. But with homes in our neighborhood having cleaned out our refrigerators, and after four days in 90 degree heat (visualize waves of stink rising from each driveway end), and animals starting to dig into the bags, not only did the 8′ piles of tree debris on our lawns block our view of the pavement, but  the garbage piles made it tricky to pull out. 45 minutes later, and then grilled for details, like my waste management number (didn’t even know we had one) and exactly how many bags did I have out there, I was told they would pick it up the next day. They did. My neighbors call me “The Garbage Police.”  I call me desperate.

3) At noon, with the temperature hovering at 90 degrees, one of the many still-leaning trees around here took out a transformer box, leaving hundreds of homes and businesses in my area without power. The lights flickered on and off about eight times before they went off entirely.

It got me thinking about different people (and therefore character) reactions. (This IS supposed to be a writing blog, after all.) My sister would have said, “Let’s get out the flashlights.” My father would have said, “What the &%#@!” and then gone to check our fuze box. My mother would have sighed, then looked disgusted. Another may have stared at the light, blinked, and then waited for his spouse to tell him what to do. Others may have said, “Oh, well,” or “Here we go again.” (This is a great writing exercise, by the way: take any situation, and then have each of your characters respond/react to it in their own way.) My reaction to the this incident? I know it was still daylight. I knew we had gallons of tap water for flushing, and bottled water for drinking. We’d just gone through six days without power, and knew all the what-to-dos. But, actually, that was the point. We’d JUST gone through six days without power, and only had it on for three days. While the light in our hallway flickered, I went from ut-oh mode to hope each time it flashed back on. But then, when it went off for good, I tried not to burst into tears in front of our insurance claims agent, continuing business as usual. It was only off for four and a half hours, but somehow, I was still rattled — cool, calm, collected me, rattled at a daylight loss of electricity.

Well… I may not be doing the novel revision work I’d planned on doing this week, or this month, but I sure am gathering writing fodder for future stories. I have 71 journal pages (mostly random thoughts and facts) and counting, and that doesn’t even count my blog words.

I hear rain and wind storms are coming the next couple days. Why do I feel shaky when I think about that?

12 thoughts on “More Tornado Stuff

  1. {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Sandy}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}
    I’m praying you get 72* daytime and 65* nighttime weather, clear skies and maybe a few shooting stars (far away, though).

  2. SAndy, you truly ARE a writer, my friend. Who else, but a writer, would think of how to use this ordeal for future writings?????
    Keep your chin up.
    Wish I lived closer so I could help.

  3. I visited Sandy yesterday, and I drove past her house – my physical GPS was completely thrown off. The area is such a mess, I didn’t even recognize the neighborhood. It’s awful. Sandy is looking great and keeping up a brave front.

    I’m praying for you, my dear friend. You are going to write an epic novel about this. I can feel it. Loves and Hugs to you and all of my brave neighbors.

  4. So sorry it is taking so long to restore power, garbage service, etc. I know it must be worse than hard going through something like that. You have an awesome attitude if you can think of writing exercises out of it all. Hang in there.

  5. I wish I could give you all my battery operated f lashlights!!! Being the practical person I am, I know you will pull throught his crisis. Wish I was there to help you…. remember I am used to the heat. Pictures are amazing and so glad you and Jeff are safe.

  6. Thank you EACH for your care and concern and well wishes. It means so, so much. Hugs back — although you are the biggest hugger I know, Ruth! All of you encouraging us is our strength.

  7. I hope your power stays on now!! Glad to hear that the trees are off the house and getting carted away. And I agree with Ruth–I wish comfortable 72 degree days for you!

    I know what you mean about freaking out when the power goes out. After our ice storm (which didn’t last as long as your tornado extravaganza + cleanup), any time the power goes out, we freak. Last summer we were visiting the in-laws and the power went out. It was a pleasant 70 degrees in southern California, and my in-laws have enough emergency provisions to handle an army. Yet, all seven of us prowled the house, wondered if there was enough firewood for the woodstove if necessary, and were so nervous that we all got in the car to drive around and see what had happened and how much longer we’d be powerless. My in-laws probably thought we’d lost it–but once you go through something like that, you definitely have strong reactions!

    • Thanks for the relational “I relate” (to my feelings), Rose. If I remember rightly, though, that ice storm you went through was in winter time, too.

      And on a side note (re: your in-laws ample supply), it’s been more than once in the past 2 weeks that I’ve heard a phrase like, “Now if you were a Mormon…” My candles, 8 gallons of water, and ole $20 BBQ doesn’t quite measure up to other peoples’ preparedness. But somehow humans survive.

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