Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Columbus Day Storm

So Thursday night I get home and everything seems pretty normal. The power is down in a few houses down the street but our apartment complex is still well lit – yeah!. I get home, follow my usual routine: turn the laptop on, change my work clothes, play some music in my ipod and sit down to check e-mails.

The storm started around 2 pm that afternoon, and by the time I left work my car was already covered in snow. What is usually a 20 min drive from work to home took around 45 minutes because everybody was driving so slowly – the streets were slippery and visibility was an issue.

By 9 pm we already had around 5 inches of snow all over the city and the suburbs, something unprecedented as never in history we’ve had a snow storm so early in the year – it’s just mid-october, for god’s sakes!

Around 8:30 pm, sitting in my living room browsing the net, the power went out. Just as the lights went off, N made it home, and just a few minutes later we decided to go out to pick up my brother from work – we knew it would take somewhat longer to make it to UB because of the weather, but we really had no idea of what would come.

9:05 pm, N’s car (a mini SUV) is stuck in the snow. After several minutes going back and forth we managed to drive out of the snow and towards the road. We made it to UB around 10 pm – a drive that usually takes 15 minutes took about 40 min. that night. We picked up Bill and headed back home. The snow was falling so hard for three times we had to stop in the middle of the road to clean the windshield because the snow was getting stuck under the wipers and we couldn’t see anything beyond the front of our car – dangerous situation. By quarter to 11 we made it home and watched a movie.

I knew I’d have to wake up earlier to clean my car to make it to work on time, so I woke up at 6:15 am on Friday, took a shower, and as I was getting ready I looked outside my windows and this is what I saw (see picture). The radio said that the whole Buffalo area was in state of emergency, driving ban was on place in five counties, schools were closed, and by 7 am almost two hundred thousand people didn’t have power at their homes.

Ok. No biggie. I went back to bed, and laying there the first thing that came to my mind was all the food we had in the fridge! About $200 in food was about to get spoiled, and that, my man, is a lot of money. Anyway, I sort of relaxed when N told me that if we didn’t open the freezer our food would last a couple of days frozen, but little did we know that it would take for days until we got power back!

The last phone call we received on Friday was from my boss telling me to stay home because there was no power at work either, and all our phone lines were down. Yupi! No work today! – I thought. About a minute after this phone call our phone lines went down too, so we turned off all our cell phones – except one, for an emergency – and ventured out looking for something for breakfast.

N and I dressed in our snow gear and headed out to the store. By the time we got there –walking over snow that was up to my knees high– we gladly found out that actually Wegman’s was open, and they had what looked like zombies working at the cashier. You see, it happened that the night crew at the store never actually went home, so those people hadn’t slept in more than 20 hours – they looked awful.

After shopping for a while we headed back home. Friday was kind of fun overall. After we came back from the store we stayed home all day, we read a lot, slept a lot, ate a lot, and at night we played Monopoly (I so much rule at Monopoly!!!) and then we went to bed. Of course, without power our heating system wasn’t working so I went to bed wearing thermal underwear, pajama and a sweater – the three of us had a very good night in spite of the cold.

By Saturday morning we were already missing our dear electricity. We hadn’t seen the news, heard the radio, checked our e-mails, played music in almost two days. We took a two minutes shower each (we had to save hot water just in case power didn’t come back by Monday) and headed out to the shopping mall. We had lunch at Jack Astors (too much garlic for my taste, but the boys seemed to enjoy it) and we went shopping for a while and then to the movies. We watched that dull movie, Man of the Year, the last one with Robin Williams (there was nothing else playing at the time we got there), so I guess that was alright just to keep us away from the dungeon (this is how we call home now that is dark and cold).

By the way, each day that passes our house gets 5 degrees colder. We are in the lower sixties by now, so we have an extra cover in our bed and I’m wearing thicker socks and am thinking on getting my gloves from storage.

On Sunday morning I woke up a little cranky already. We had nothing to do at home, we couldn’t eat any warm food because we have an electric stove (no power, no stove!), we can’t shower –and without a shower, I won’t get out of home, and already I had a splitting headache for reading by candle light. As I had nothing better to do I started to clean our place – I didn’t get too far as I couldn’t use our vacuum, but at least our kitchen and bathrooms are clean!

Then I thought, “well, to hell with self cleanliness! I’m going out without a shower!” So, looking like a refugee, I headed towards the city to get something to eat.

Well, it seems that I wasn’t the only one with such a bright idea – everybody in Amherst was eating out! The lines at Tim Hortons were an hour long; the lines at the sandwich place at Wegman’s were even longer! I need food in order to keep my blood sugar up (otherwise I start shaking and eventually lose all consciousness) and I was already feeling hot and shaky for not having had anything to eat in almost 12 hours.
I picked up some sushi, some Chinese food, some bread, a gallon of green tea and a bottle of chocolate milk and went home. In the way back I almost hit a car –well, that’s what the other driver told me, because I didn’t realize it until this huge guy comes down from an SUV towards my car and starts yelling at me through the window; pretty scary, I know.

So now I’m afraid to drive, I sort of hate people, I’m cold, my hair is a mess (blow-dryers need power too!), my fridge stinks (haven’t taken the food out of the freezer yet), my floors are dirty and I’m running out of clean clothes to go to work.

Ok. This section up here I wrote in a moment of fury (hehe).
By the time we made it back from work this afternoon, power was restored in our apartment complex, yessss!!!
I finally cleaned up our fridge and all our food went right to the trash – it was rather sad, let me tell you.
As a manner of celebration for having electricity back, we went out for Indian food, and now we are washing all our clothes.

As a summary of the whole ordeal, most people already have power back in the area. Almost two hundred people suffered carbon oxide poisoning caused by generators kept in non-ventilated areas. The whole city looks awful – the trees, that were the most beautiful trait of this place, are mostly ruined. The weight of the snow broke most of the trees’ branches and now we have branches and trees all over the streets.

I know it couldn’t have been worse, but these four these were pretty insane overall. We all need another weekend to recover from this past one, and after this storm we are all starting to fear the winter that is coming over us – everybody says it’s going to be a tough one.

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