Sunday, April 09, 2006

Night of the Potato

Okay, so I am the only one still calling them potatoes.

Carmella was mortified by her slip and correctly calls them tornadoes now. She gives me dirty looks every time I call them a potato. 5 year olds, I am quickly finding out, take themselves very seriously and do not like it at all when you make fun of them. 2 year olds, however, do like it and do much to encourage it.

Saturday morning around 4am a tornado hit our neighborhood. I woke at 1 am thinking I heard the sirens and I did but it was a fire engine siren. I turned on the TV and there was nothing. So I went back to sleep. I woke again sometime after 3 am and turned on the TV. This time the weathermen and their SEVERE WEATHER ALERT were on. They stand in front of their weather maps with the real time Doppler radar behind them with sleeves rolled up, as if they have long been at work "getting their hands dirty." Yet their hair pieces are still perfectly placed and those rolled-up shirts, perfectly pressed. You can see the excitement in their eyes that finally they have something to say that people will think is worth listening to. This IS their big moment. I never know what is more enthralling: the danger of imminent disastrous weather or them. It is riveting to say the least.

The weatherman is counting down the time to the estimated time of arrival of said severe weather for our area or whatever area of the moment. Every few minutes he will remind us to take appropriate cover. Ryan has his doubts and doesn't want me to wake the kids. "Look," he says, pointing to the Doppler radar, "it is right above us. It is totally going to miss us." I argue that I see a little pink right where I think our house is. "Just wait" he says and watches for the weather outside our open window. I watch the animated little man on TV. The clock counts down as the weather approaches. I hear the wind pick up and Ryan sees it. I go to Beau's bedroom and Ryan watches as the rain comes down the street. I pull Beau from his bed and simultaneously as I call for Ryan to get Carmella the lights go out and the sirens begin to wail. So does Beau.

We put the kids on the basement stairs and I run about the house getting milk for the kids, blankets, pillows and Ryan searches for flashlights and candles and shuts the windows. By the time we actually get all settled in our safe place the tornado has passed. So we all go back to bed.

A few hours later Ryan leaves for work and I am awakened by a crack and then a crash. I bolt out of bed and look out the window. A pinetree from the neighbor's yard across the street has fallen and landed in my driveway. I go outside to investigate. I am blocked in and thus trapped in this house with no electricity. I call Ryan on the cell and tell him he needs to come home with the chainsaw ASAP if he doesn't want people to keep driving through our yard and to bring coffee before the children wake-up. Hurry, I plead.

My next call is to the electric company to find out when I will have my electricity back. She says she doesn't know and I explain to her that my situation is dire: "I am trapped in my house with my 2 young children with no electricity and no coffee. This is an emergency." She records my outage and the down trees blocking not just me in my house but the entire neighborhood too since the other entrance, I come to find out as I wave those on through my yard needing to get to work, is blocked off by trees and downed power lines.

I then call Tara to find out if she has power and if the Chuck E. Cheese party is going to happen. She does not have power and does not know the fate of the party as it is barely 7 am. She sounds a little annoyed that I am calling her. During our conversation we both begin to realize the ramifications of how our technologically dependent lifestyle is going to be affected: no TV, no internet, no blow dryers and no coffee. Oh.My.God. The humanity! Quickly we form a plan: buy coffee and breakfast at Chic fil a, go to our gyms and shower, use phonebooks, call grandparents to entertain children.

Only the phonebooks proved useful for me as both sets of grandparents were without power. My gym and Chick fil a and all surrounding shops were closed because they were either without power because the stately old oaks took out the power lines when they fell or were damaged by the flying metal roofs that had apparently careened down the road at 4 am.

Lucky for me, while I was out driving my parents power came on so we went to their house. I showered and the kids watched TV and had breakfast.

The Chuck E. Cheese party was on, much to my kids relief. So we went there and enjoyed the electricity, the chaos.

After the party we came home and our electricity was still out. The kids napped and Ryan did some bills, so I went for a run to see if I could find a power crew. My plan was to lure them to my neighborhood to fix the down lines with a promise of girl scout cookies.

As I ran I realized that the tornado hit hardest on the street the back entrance our neighborhood is off. I couldn't even see some of the houses that were there from all the down trees. It was then that I realized how lucky we were that no one was hurt and that our house had no damage. I saw that the power crews were out and of course I didn't bother them.

I turned down another street and saw more down trees and leaped over some power lines. Those lines were still down as of my run this afternoon. As I rounded my way back home I was amazed by the severity of the storm. I turned into the back entrance of the neighborhood and the crews were there fixing the lines and pulling trees off some of my neighbors' houses.

Like most older neighborhoods in the Atlanta burbs we have a lot of hardwoods and pinetrees. The oaks, with their shallow root systems completely uproot and the pinetrees snap like the anorexic toothpicks they are. We have taken out most of the pinetrees in our yard but those hardwoods loom ominously close. It could have easily been us with a tree through our roof.

As it was we just had a few branches big branches down and the roof to the kids' playhouse had blown into the neighbor's yard. I asked Carmella if she had paid her home owner's insurance and she looked like she was about cry. I told her I was kidding, that Daddy, of course, would fix her roof. Relieved she and Beau went out to help him clean up the yard.

Barbie helped too.

1 comment:

  1. You are so on the ball. I slept through the siren and apparently, most of the storm also. I only woke up because Annika was scared and crying. Doug went in to lay with her and I woke enough to be interested . . . and realized, "wow, we should be in the basement." And then, the storm was over.