Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Hurricane Irene Experience

As I posted yesterday, I got power back, which means I lost power along with over 600,000 other households in Connecticut. I knew I was probably going to lose power so I was somewhat prepared. I wasn't mentally or physically prepared for 39 hours without power. Some may say 39 hours is nothing. Aside from camping, I have never lost power for longer than 10 hours so 39 hours was an eternity. Here is a recap of those powerless 39 hours...

Power was lost around 5am Sunday morning. Since I woke up without power, I automatically woke up on the wrong side of the bed. No running water, can't flush the toilet without dumping water into it to cause a pressure flush, no hot shower. What a way to start the day.
The first thing hubs and I had to do was move some of our meat and other items that may spoil into a cooler with ice. Looking back on this, we should have filled the coolers with a ton of ice and food that might spoil before we lost power and when I was fully awake, not 'just rolled out of bed' kind of awake. Opening the refrigerator meant letting out the cold air that was already trapped inside. To do this as quickly as possible, I opened the fridge and, in the matter of 10 seconds, blindly pulled out anything that I though might go bad. I grabbed some meat, smart balance, milk, mushrooms, leftover mashed potatoes, green beans, coffee (a must) and grapes. Clearly, I was still half asleep. Mushrooms and leftover mashed potatoes, really? What the heck was I going to do with those without power. I can't cook the mushrooms. I can't reheat the mashed potatoes. At least the coffee, green beans and grapes could sit on the counter. I'm still shaking my head over the mashed potatoes. (The list of things that I did not grab but should have include half&half, yogurt, buttermilk, leftover meatloaf, salt pork, and cheese. With all of these likely to spoil items, I'm really, really not understanding why I chose to save the mashed potatoes...)
With my saved food items in their coolers, we then had to open our freezer to get as much ice as we could to keep our coolers chilled and save some to keep the freezer cold. We did alright with this task, however, I did not make nearly enough ice. Especially since using some of the ice for our iced coffees was a MAJOR priority. If I couldn't have power, I would at least have my iced coffee!

For breakfast hubs and I had our iced coffee and some of the delicious cinnamon raisin bread that I had baked the day before.
Please excuse the rack dent on the top of the bread. I dropped it on the rack while trying to get it out of the pan.

The rest of the morning was spent catching up on some reading. Lunch sucked. I'm a lunch person. I love nice lunches that consist of perfect little sandwiches with meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato or some leftovers from the night before. Well, we didn't have any deli meat and I couldn't reheat those leftover mashed potatoes so I had some peanut butter crackers...boring. The afternoon got a little more exciting. My puppy Brady finally decided he had to go to the bathroom bad enough to actually go outside. (He refused to go out all morning long.) While he was outside, hubs and I noticed something weird in the middle of the backyard but we couldn't tell what it was, just that it was big, lumpy and grayish. Rocco went out after Brady came in. Rocco, the ever so curious lab, noticed the gray lump in the yard too and decided to check it out. The next thing we knew, Rocco was running/jumping around in circles with his tail between his legs and frantically looking around him. My poor puppy Rocco was stung by a bee. Sweet Irene brought us a nice little hostess gift, a hornets nest complete with white-faced hornets. Wonderful.Thanks Irene, just what we always wanted.
Since we couldn't keep the wonderful little gift Irene brought us, we decided that we had to spray it asap. Hubs is allergic to bees and there was no way I was getting close to those suckers so we decided to try and spray it from the closest window. Looking back on this, it probably wasn't the best idea to hang halfway out of an open window during the middle of a hurricane. Because of the hurricane force winds, the bee spray was being blown past the nest instead of onto it. Fun times. We actually had to go out and spray it. We then hung out of the window again to watch for stragglers, We were just full of bright moments on Sunday. The bee situation was taken care of and we went back to our mundane reading.
Blah blah blah, hours spent reading passed and then it was dinner time. Hubs and I knew we would be without power on Sunday so we had purchased meat to grill. Smart thinking! But it really wasn't so smart. How were we going to grill during the middle of a hurricane? Not only did we not take into consideration the winds and rain, but we also forgot about having to put the grill away in the shed. I thought I was so prepared for my first real power outage. I guess not. I really made a couple of stupid mistakes. Grilling during a hurricane, really. Slap me in the back of the head for that one. Since we didn't have anything that we could actually cook or anything that we wanted to snack on or eat cold, we decided to go out and see if anything was open. At this point, the storm was winding down. There was some rain and occasional big gusts of wind, but not like earlier. It seemed ok to go out and we noticed many other people in our neighborhood venturing out. We brought the dogs with us and started to drive and charge up our cell phones. This is the entrance to our dead end neighborhood:
tree and wires down in the road

This was in the was of getting out of the neighborhood with a path for 1 car to squeeze through

Technically, my road was closed to traffic... oops

Close up look driving by (not zoomed in)

This was why I didn't have power. At least we were able to get through safely. I was also happy to know that hubs and I weren't the only stupid ones without dinner that night. There were many people driving around looking for open stores and restaurants. We were finally able to find an open pizza place in the next town over. Since they were one of the very few places with power, the wait was insane but it was a nice chance to charge our phones and check up on the news and facebook, of course. Thank god for smart phones, seriously. 
Since we waited over an hour for our pizza, it was almost dark by the time we got home. At least my candles were already gathered in one place!
Pizza, wine and candles...not too shabby. After that, some more reading by candle light but it was an early night. That was the first 24 hours.

The Additional 14
Hubs woke up in a horrible mood. I can't blame him, we still didn't have power. We also didn't have ice for iced coffee, which was a really low blow. No power, no coffee. Super bad day in the making. At least it was beautiful outside. Blue skies, no clouds, perfect temperature, and carnage around the yard. The carnage part was not so beautiful.

 This is the 20 foot long top of our neighbors pine tree that came down outside our bedroom window.

This is where it came from, 50 yards up. Thanks, Bill.

The trunk of the tree was imbedded a foot into the ground from impact.

Hubs is not happy about this mess but we are very thankful it did not land on our house or the brand new shed we just built.

Most of the yard was covered in these more manageable limbs and branches.

Part of the lovely little hornets nest Irene left for us. The rest was scattered throughout the yard. Yay.

Hubs and I had a massive amount of crap to clean up. But first, we needed to find ice to keep my mashed potatoes and other food cool. We also really, really, really wanted some iced coffee. Off we went and this is what we encountered about 100 yards up the road:
Another tree and more wires down across the road. At least that wasn't my front yard... sorry neighbor!

Because we live in a dead end neighborhood, we knew that cleanup and power restoration was not going to come any time soon. We really, really needed ice. Stop and Shop was already sold out of ice and the local gas stations were not open. But before we could think about an ice plan, we really needed coffee. Since the drive through line at Dunkin Donuts was (literally) a half a mile long and the line was out the door for inside the store, we got coffees at McDonald's after waiting a half an hour. Sometimes I wish we weren't crazy coffee addicts because that's the price we pay for caffeine. After our fix, we drove to the next closest grocery store, a town over. Since my town was 93% without power and surrounding towns were 100% without power, everybody and their mother was out looking for ice. Good luck. Grocery stores, package stores and gas stations were all out. Hubs called his dad and they had power. They also had 4 bags of ice that they didn't need since they still had power. We decided we should drive there to get the ice because we would need it, for sure. Did I mention they live an hour away? 
Five minutes into the trip I saw a lonely little package store that was OPEN with a huge ice chest out front. No cars, no customers, just the owner. I thought, "why not?", and told hubs to stop. He still had ice! I miraculously found the only place left with ice and no line to wait in. Score! Now we didn't need to drive an hour just to get ice. 
Once home and after we iced our mashed potatoes food, it was time to tackle the yard. All you could hear in the neighborhood was chainsaws, saws, and lawn mowers chopping up all the crap in the yards. It took hubs and me 4 hours to clean up that mess of a pine tree. We had to saw it all down by hand. I'm actually really proud of us for tackling that. 20 feet of pine tree, plus all of the extra branches it took down, in 4 hours? Pretty good. So good, in fact, that we decided to drive that hour to the in-laws house just so we could shower. (After 4 hours of sawing and chopping and 2 hours of hauling branches and sticks we really needed it). We left our house at 4. The trees and wires were still down in the road in both places and there were no working crews in sight. When we saw this, we thought we might be in the group of people that might not get power restored for a whole week. 
To make a really long story short, we showered got the extra ice and drove home. The first thing we noticed when approaching our neighborhood was that the road block had been removed. Hubs immediately said "Noooooo.... it can't be." As we turned into the neighborhood, surprise! The tree was gone! AND LIGHTS WERE ON. We thought that maybe the first part of the neighborhood had power and maybe the other tree and lines were still down. Surprise! The second tree was gone! And the lines were up! AND LIGHTS WERE ON. I saw a TV, lamps, flood lights. We literally started laughing and acting like 4-year-olds on Christmas morning. We also danced around the house as we turned on every.single.light. Just because we could. That, my friends, is how I spent 39 hours without power.
Thank god for electricity.


  1. So nuts how wind can take down branches and trees like that...makes you really change your view on Mother Nature! Glad you're all okay!


  2. Wow! Sure makes us examine the technology we take for granted - thanks for sharing your experience; glad everyone is okay!

  3. ugh sounds rough :/ i lost power for over 3 days.. all of saturday until about lunchtime today it was out! and all the stores around me were closed so we couldn't even buy ice. so i feel ya on the spoiled food. we stuffed our faces with whatever was in there so at least it wouldn't go to waste. haha never ate so much yogurt in my life....,but at least it's back now! but be cautious cause apparently in two weeks it's supposed to happen again. who knows! glad you're ok

    Lindsay @ Lindsayelizabethm.blogspot.com

  4. Oh my goodness, that is a long time to go without electricity! I'm glad you are ok and it looks like you really made the best of it. Thanks for visiting my blog, I'm now following you back! -Christine @ Why We Love Green, http://whywelovegreen.blogspot.com

  5. Sorry you had to go through that. I'm glad you got your electricity back.

    I am a new follower. If you get a chance please visit and follow me back at Free eBooks Daily. (You can even read ebooks on your computer or smartphone!)

  6. Wow...what a story! I have been there too and it is NOT fun! It makes me wonder why people go camping on purpose? And, Poor dog with his hornet sting. I am following you back from the tribe. Welcome!!

    Jenny at dapperhouse

  7. I am still laughing over the mashed potatoes I am legit peeing a little LOL
    Yea so we are on day 4 of no powers I actually went to the library today to just facebook lol... I have internet at my house but not my work house I come home to sleep basically my kids come to work with me while the mail man does his crap... SO yea 5 kids all day no power ugh... I just want to sit them infront a movie and say shuuuuuuuuut up lol
    And I am here :) so I am following your blog is sooooooooooooo cute <3

  8. Hi! I am a new follower from the Blog Hop, via GFC. Please follow me back at http://jessycaspage.blogspot.com/
    Have a great weekend!

  9. I am amazed at the fact that you have found and shared some humour in all of this! Hoping the next hurricane does not find you!

  10. Thank God for electricity indeed. I don't know how people managed without it. I guess 39 hours gave you a little taste of what it used to be like.

    Glad you're safe, but so sorry to see all those beautiful trees torn to shreds.

    Following you from the Lots of Lovin' Weekend blog hop.

  11. I'm hear to follow you back. Quite an experience. I was only without power for a few hours, but had neighbors and friends without power for days and days in Maryland. Oh and check out last weeks Wordless Wednesday to see the trees that fell on neighbor's houses.

  12. Oh my! What a scary situation - what a post!

    We were under tornado watches when I was up at the cottage this summer and at one point we ended up in our basement with the kids - NOT FUN!

    I'm glad you're ok!



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