Sunday, December 14, 2008

I am no pioneer woman!

Oh. My. God. I am 37 years old and have lived in Worcester, MA - central New England - my entire life. We have had some pretty severe weather between hurricanes and blizzards, etc. But never in my entire life have I seen anything like this right in my own backyard. This storm took my breath away, along with power and heat to thousands of people. It was really scary, and I know our family will never forget this experience.

Thursday night my mom and I were supposed to go shopping, but when I heard we were supposed to have an "ice storm" I called her and rescheduled. Thank God I did. By 10:00 Thursday night, power was out across the city as the ice took down power lines one by one. What we thought was lightning was actually circuit breakers or transformers blowing up all over the city and lighting up the sky. We sleep with fans on year-round for the white noise, and I cannot sleep without it - so I pretty much lay in bed listening to the ice and sirens all night long. Every time I'd start to drift into sleep - CRASH - I'd hear a tree falling or ice crashing down - it sounded like the world was coming to an end. It was so scary. And it was so dark out, you couldn't see what had fallen!! So I'd hear this awful crash and look out the window and have no idea what just happened. Tree limbs kept falling on our roof and we just prayed that nothing crashed through into the house. This is the site we woke up to Friday morning, this car belongs to our neighbors across the street:
This is our backyard, and our next-door neighbor's back yard. We have a small "woodsy" area back there:
This is the yard at the new house that we were supposed to move into yesterday. Mother Nature had other plans, apparently. There is still no power/electricity/heat at the new house, so we are slowly moving things in but have to stay put for now. The temperature was 34 degrees this morning inside - Jeremy and his dad are bringing his dad's generator over there today to just run the furnace and get the house back up to at least 60-65 degrees, so the pipes don't freeze. Hopefully, they haven't already! This is what the yard looked like when we went to check on the house Friday afternoon:
It's all so pretty, isn't it? Until you see the destruction. Friday morning we realized it was bad, but we had no idea HOW bad. Since we had no power, Jeremy decided to see if he could go get us a coffee somewhere. He came back about 1/2 hour later with no coffee and said "You guys have GOT to come see this." The kids and I got into the car and Jeremy took us for a ride around the block, basically - it took us an hour. I started crying about 1/2 way into the trip Align Centerand just said "Take me home." It was just awful - this is the kind of stuff we saw:Entire trees, tree limbs, and power lines were EVERYWHERE. Jeremy was able to navigate the car through it, there is no way I could have. Most streets were completely blocked by entire trees. People were standing in their front yards in their bathrobes and pj's just staring at the damage. Having lost power before, we weren't too nervous about it until we saw the depth of the damage. We knew then that we weren't going to have power for a while.

Luckily, we have a fireplace. We burned wood all day Friday and all night Friday night - but then we started to run out of wood. In times like these, things like firewood become scarce and people scoop up as much as they can. By Saturday, we were starting to burn things like old broken chairs and wooden shelves. I gotta tell you, it was starting to get really scary. We tried to make the best of it - Jeremy and Trevor managed to find a grocery store open and they had some hot food, so we sat around the fire in the dark eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes Friday night. Jeremy and Trevor played poker and I read by candle-light, and we actually had a little bit of fun.

By Saturday morning, though, I was starting to feel sorry for myself. We were supposed to move that day, and my plans had been squashed. But then Jeremy and I went to check on the new house, and I saw homes that had both cars in their driveways with trees lying on them, I saw houses with windows smashed in, and I went from crying over our own misfortune to crying because I felt guilty for crying! LOL I know we were lucky, and I am so thankful that no one was hurt, and we were really only inconvenienced - we were cold, yes, but we managed to get by. We lost all of the food in the refrigerator, but we had not gone grocery shopping in 2 weeks because we are moving - so the loss was minimal. I was determined to stay busy all day and at least feel like I was doing SOMETHING productive!

Saturday afternoon, Cassidy asked if her and her friend Jamie could spend the day at her friend Audrey's house, because Audrey had not lost power at all. Of course we said yes and dropped them off. My cell phone was dying and I told her not to call me unless it was an emergency. Jeremy and Trevor and I were going to make a few trips to the new house bringing as much stuff over as we could. On our very first trip, Jeremy's cell phone rang and it was Jamie on the other end - she sounded upset and scared and said that Cassidy had split her head open. Jeremy hung up and said "Let's go" - I called Jamie back and she said "Jenn, it's really, really bad - she is bleeding badly and it's really deep." I could hear Cassidy in the background crying hysterically and she grabbed the phone and I could barely even understand her, she kept screaming that she was going to die. We went 90 mph on the highway to get to her and blew every red light that came between us and her. We were there in 5 minutes - when I finally saw her, I didn't know whether to hug her or choke her. She had a bad cut over her left eye, like right on her eyebrow - and it WAS bad, but certainly not life-threatening! I hugged her, and managed to calm her down and we took her to the ER. Jeremy then drove Trevor to his dad's house while I sat in the waiting room with Cassidy. We were there for FOUR HOURS. It was awful. When the doctor was finally able to look at her, she confirmed that she definitely needed stitches. She ended up with 5 blue stitches and she was a trooper through the whole thing. I think when it originally happened, there was so much blood that it just completely freaked her out. Combine that with the fact that there were no adults around to minimize the drama and you have 4 emotional teenage girls trying to deal with a semi-crisis. By the time we got out of the hospital, I was just wiped out. Here she is, in all her stitched-up glory: Our plan was to come home, get clothes, go eat dinner at Jeremy's dad's house and take showers, and then we were going to go sleep at my friend Missy's house, who has a wood-burning stove. As we were driving up the main road, the traffic lights were working. I held my breath and said "Jeremy - the traffic lights are on!" He was like "Oh my God - you're right!" I crossed both my fingers and started chanting "Please, please, please" - sure enough, we came around the corner and saw lights on in our house and the neighbors, and let me tell you, I just burst into tears of happiness. I don't think I have EVER appreciated electricity so much in my entire life.

Do I sound like a brat? I couldn't help but feel like one - I thought about the Hurricane Katrina victims and victims of other natural disasters, and I just couldn't help but think that people, people watching the news and reading the stories, they just don't realize how bad it is unless they are HERE. I've seen it on TV and sat in my warm living room saying "Wow, that sucks" - but until I was someone actually AFFECTED by something like this, I really had no idea how badly it sucked. How hopeless it feels - there is just nothing you can do. And that is a really terrifying feeling.

I have to tell you one more story, and it's hard for me to even type this. I'm already bawling just thinking about it. My mom works third shift (11 p.m. - 7 a.m.) at Stop & Shop, she stocks shelves and loves her job. She went to work Thursday night - around 3:00 a.m. Papa called her to say that he would pick her up in the morning, because there was no way she was going to be able to get home. Her boss told him that he was sending her to a different store - and Papa said "I don't think you should do that - she should not be out driving in this right now." Keep in mind, this was Thursday night, right in the middle of the storm - trees and power lines were coming down every MINUTE. Well, this jerk tells her to go anyway - so she does. She tries to get there and as she's driving, a tree fell on the truck in front of her and snapped live power lines down. She panicked and turned around and apparently drove right into a 4-foot puddle. She couldn't get out of it - she opened her car door and ice-cold water started to pour in. She was so scared, she jumped out of the car into waist-deep water and literally swam to safety. The car was gone. She has no cell phone, so she walked to the nearest gas station - remember it's about 25 degrees out and now she's soaked to her waist - she's no elderly old lady, but she IS 59 years old, for crying out loud. The gas station had no power and no heat - she was able to use a phone and called Papa, who said he'd come to get her. She walked back down to Stop & Shop, dodging power lines and trees the whole way, and the doors were locked. She said by then, she was just in absolute shock about the whole thing. It took Papa an hour to get to her - which would normally be a 5-minute trip - he even called 911 and they said "Good luck, buddy" - it was THAT bad! Yes, my mom can drive me nuts and piss me off, but let me tell you, when she told me this story, I just cried like a baby. And when I went to visit her yesterday to just make sure they were OK, she said to me that when it was all happening, she actually thought to herself, "I'm so glad none of my kids are mad at me right now, and that if I die, I don't have to worry that anyone will feel guilty or have bad feelings." How scary is that, to really consider the fact that you may die? It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. Here is her white Jeep floating the next day, this pic was taken by the media and my brother found it online:
I'm still in shock, I think. It's now Sunday and we are not sure if the kids will have school tomorrow, or even all week. I'm thinking that they will - and I'm actually hoping that they will! First, they need to get back to a routine - this kind of thing is traumatizing and I think having the kids be able to focus on school can keep their minds off the chaos. Second, they are on vacation next week, and I took this entire week off to purposely have no kids around while I get things settled at the new house. Although my plans have been a bit altered, I still plan to get a lot done and it will be more difficult if the kids are not at school.

I am hoping that all of my friends and family are OK and that power and heat have been restored to most. My parents still do not have power, neither do Jeremy's grandparents. They are staying with his dad - and my parents have a neighbor with a generator who is going to hook it up to their furnace today, so they will at least be able to get the house warm. I am off to get some more packing done and hopefully get something accomplished today. Stay warm and appreciate your electricity and heat - peace. ;o)


  1. jenn, glad to see you post. those pics of the storm are terrible!! i cant even imagine being in a storm like that!
    i had to smile when i read the part about sleeping with a fan on cause i dod too!! it rums every night year round. when i had my girls i even had a fan in the hospital room so i could sleep at night. :) both of my two have used one all their lives.

    i understand you being upset about you mom. she should have told the boss, that she was going home.
    i too, can get so pissed off at my mom sometimes. the last few months, well since about april i have come to see a whole different side of her. not the pleasant side either. i still love her, still talk to her occasionally on the phone but i havent been her to house in months. she knows why... she created the problem.
    anyways, back to you all.
    i hope you get moved and the pipes didnt freeze. thats would be even worse.
    post when you can,

    p.s. you could make it as a "pioneer woman". you have courage in your heart. :)

  2. I just stumbled across your blog and wanted to comment..

    WOW! I had seen snippets on the news and knew it had been declared a disaster area, but your wonderfully written story and the pictures made me feel as if I were there! Thank God your power came on soon and that your daughter and Mom are OK!

    Please go easy on your Mom. LOL Being a 55 year old Mom, just know she loves you so much even though she may drive you crazy at times. I think it is a "Mother/Daughter" thing. My daughter thinks I am crazed sometimes...I think it is just the generational gap.