Last night, I sat in my living room watching tv and waiting for my children to finally fall asleep. As things got quieter in their bedroom, I started noticing occasional flashes of light outside. I finally realized that it was, in fact, lightning. But it was obviously far away since I wasn’t hearing any thunder. A few minutes later, we noticed that the wind was starting to pick up a bit outside. And then, out of nowhere…
Da-dump, da-dump, da-daa daa….
OK, fine, the Wicked Witch of the West didn’t really come flying by my window–but, holy heck, plenty of other things did. We’re talking about massive winds. Scary winds (remember–I have 100+ trees on my property). Bad enough winds that Sean and I were on the verge of carrying our sleeping children into the basement. And then…
Just like that. The wind started; the wind stopped. It rained some, but never really felt too much like a storm. But, shortly after the rain stopped, the power went out.
I found the flashlight, pulled out the step ladder, and got down our oil lamps. Hmmm–I know which group of virgins I would be hanging with at the feast. My lamp was quite low on oil. I lit it and hoped that the lights weren’t going to be out too long.
A few minutes later, the lights came back on.
I decided to fill the lamp (I do have the oil). I was having issues, so I decided to call my dad, who was in Utah at that point, and ask him how to fill it. As he was trying to explain to me how to carefully but forcefully loosen the thing with pliers (?!), I happened to glance out of my window.
And I happened to notice sparks. Lots of ’em. Showering down from approximately the area where the power lines go through the woods.
Not a good sign.
So, I quickly got off the phone with my dad so I could use it for more pressing things–like calling 911. Apparently, given the severity of the wind, sparks showering down amongst a lot of trees aren’t as high of a priority to the emergency responders as it would seem to me. They just advised me to make sure to leave the house, should it catch fire. It was over half an hour before a deputy arrived, and probably at least an hour before the fire department showed up. In the meantime, the power had gone back out–for good.
And we knew it was out for good as soon as the firefighters started shining their spotlights down there. One of the utility poles on my parents’ side was at a 45 degree angle.
It was snapped at the base, with the remaining wires serving as the only barrier between it an the ground. There was a power line down through their yard. The shorter end of it dangled from the utility pole in my yard–hanging right next to our trampoline.
Kind of hard to see, but if you count three yellow pads from the left, you can see the wire hanging just to the right of the third one, going up the middle of the tree.
Massive limbs were down in the area where I first saw the sparks flying.
There was plenty going on around us, too. Two houses down on one side (my parents’ other neighbors), huge limbs had come down. One landed part-way into my parents’ yard. Another flew across the street, taking out a stone wall lining the driveway on that side of the street.
Two house down on the other side, I huge limb came down and (I think) landed on a car. Poor people–same thing happened to them a couple of years ago.
And, of course, as I’m calling my parents back in Utah, telling them what is going on, my mother has what was (for her) a totally predictable response. Totally disappointed that she is missing it all. Seriously. Her exact reaction was, “All of the exciting stuff always happens when I’m gone! Like the time the people across the street got drunk and blew up the hot tub–I was out of town that time, too!” (Yeah, true story. It is not advisable to throw an old hot tub on a bonfire. Especially when the motor–and its oil–are still in it. Sounds a lot like a bomb, and makes it look like your deck is on fire. Also makes you look really stupid.)
So, anyhow, the electric company came around two or three in the morning. Sean woke up and talked to them. They determined that there was no way they could try and get a new pole down our hill in the dark. So we had to go to the YMCA to take showers this morning. I took the kids to the museum all morning so that we wouldn’t have to be stuck in the house without television or air conditioning to make our imprisonment bearable. I guess the electric guys showed up around 11:30. I think it was past 4:00 when the lights finally came back on (we had been home for a couple of hours before it happened).
Things are still looking interesting down in the woods. Sean and the kids cleaned up what they could, but the large limbs will require the assistance of a chain saw.
There is a new utility pole in my parents’ back yard, but they didn’t take the old one away. Instead, they, um, propped it back up and tied it to the new pole with one piece of rope. Uh????
They didn’t say anything when they left about needing to come back to finish the job (the old pole still has stuff attached–cable lines, maybe?), but there is no way that they could seriously think that would be sufficient, right?
Oh, and the sparks I saw flying? Totally obvious where that was happening…
Really, this will do nothing good for the nightmares I have about my backyard catching fire and burning to the ground. Yikes.