I woke up this morning with the sun streaming into my window like nothing happened, but I knew better. Outside, it looked like Nature had a kegger, drank too much, and spewed tree debris all over everything.
Yesterday, edge of Hurricane Irene hit central Virginia (where I live) with a much more force than had been predicted. I was ready for the 20-30 mph winds and rain that the forecasters projected for the area. I think most of the city was ready for that. What we didn’t expect were the sustained gusts of 70mph that shook buildings, knocked over trees, and frayed traffic light wires.
When I had finished doing most of my laundry and running the sweeper, I went out to pick up a few more non-perishable supplies yesterday afternoon, and maybe some ice if I could find any. I had no trouble getting around in the wind and rain at that point, and I was able to get everything but the ice, which was out. Along with most of the milk, eggs, and water at the grocery store (I didn’t check for bread). At that point, I didn’t know if I should be concerned or if folks were taking this far too seriously.
When I came home, the power was out at my apartment, so I make sure the cats were okay and headed over to a friend’s house, where she still had electricity. I stayed there until dusk, and then went home while it was still light out. By then, the winds were picking up, and there was more debris on the road. One of the traffic lights was lying in someone’s yard, with the broken wires dangling over the lanes.
This was my first hurricane, and I can’t tell you how thankful I am that the worst damage I have is being without power in my apartment. There are some folks who lived through Isabel and Gaston who are acting like this was nothing, but this was an experience unlike any I had before. And I certainly wasn’t prepared for it to be any worse than it was.
Almost 60 percent of residents are without power in my city, and they expect it will take one to two weeks to restore. I drove into my day job office this morning, and it took me twice as long with navigating around the fallen trees. I keep hoping that when I go home again this afternoon, I’ll have electricity, but I’m not expecting it. It’ll be a while before the city recovers from the storm, and we’re lucky to have only been on the edge of it.
I don’t know what the talking heads on TV are saying about what they expected to happen or what did happen, but if anyone tells you that Hurricane Irene was “nothing” or “overblown,” feel free to blow up all the transformers in their neighborhoods and drop trees everywhere. Then see if they still think this is no big deal.