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First off, I'm okay. We're okay. The pets are okay. Our stuff is okay.


The surroundings, well, not so much.


Until pretty recently, we lacked the capacity to say we were okay, because we lacked phone and power (and thus water, because the pressure tank cuts out), and we've been in our little quiet safe house, going about our business. Here's what we found when we ventured out of our little den:


Roads have been swept away. Bridges are gone. The propane storage tanks that resupply our gas stove went bobbing down river. Our kid's favorite seasonal hamburger and ice cream hut has been washed away. One of my middle daughter's friends had to evacuate her trailer park last night via swift-water rope rescue, and several of the homes were washed away. When I was finally able to see on TV some of the scenes of flooding and disaster from other areas of the state, they almost all were familiar places. Two nearby towns are among the eleven "island towns" in the state, so-named because the roads in and out have been so damaged, that for the time being, they are on their own.


I went to do my usual 5 mile loop, and there were two bridges out, one of which sent two sizable concrete pillars downstream to wreck the road were the next curve lay. This in a stream that usually can be crossed by getting one foot wet, if that. After 4 miles I faced the choice of doing a little wading to get back to the main road, or turning around, going back up hill, and making it an 8 mile trip. I chose to wade, since the water was receding and not very deep.


Our little mini (but registered!) covered bridge acted as a dam on the small stream that runs behind our house, causing a major portion of our back yard to become fast-moving but shallow stream, but it was still sound once the waters retreated, unlike most of the full-sized covered bridges around here. The ones that weren't carried off outright, are taped off pending eventual repair.


Our house has a small stream in back of us, and a medium size creek across the road from us, and down a steep 15 foot slope. The creek began to rise, and eventually got within about 3 feet of the roadway, although if it had gotten that high, it would have had to go 1 1/2 feet higher to cross the road and get to the house, given the camber of the road. When the flash flood warnings went out, we went across to take a look at the creek and make our decision about whether we needed to evacuate. There was a rumbling which sounded like distant thunder, and a series of clicking noises. It was more than a little disturbing when we realized that this sound was not thunder, but the sound of big boulders rolling downstream.


The sport of the day was going around to all the various neighbors, checking to see that everyone was okay, and rubbernecking at the various repair crews at work. Around our neighborhood, there was sizeable property damage, but no damage to family, pets, or livestock, so everyone was in an upbeat mood. My husband's clinic had power and telephone, but the town had no water, so he didn't have to work Monday. Tuesday is his day off anyway, and hopefully by the time Wednesday rolls around, water will be restored. They had plenty of new silt deposited on their front lawn, though.


School was supposed to start on Wednesday, but it is now postponed until September 6th.


We are all ridiculously happy now to be able to do simple things, like flush the toilets, take showers, and refrigerate food, but basically for our family, this has been the equivalent of a run-of-the-mill storm-cum-power-loss, without the added joy of having to huddle under blankets to keep from freezing, or having to worry about the state of our pipes.


Please spare a thought or a prayer for those families in Vermont that were not as lucky as we were. At last count there were 3 dead, and one missing, presumed dead, and there was the expectation that that number could well rise.

Comments

( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
campylobacter
Aug. 30th, 2011 06:48 am (UTC)
OMG Thothmes! Irene cut your power, phone & water for days? I'm so glad you & your family are safe & the flooding didn't destroy more than the propane tanks.

Poor Vermont. :( My heart goes out to the families of the lost.
thothmes
Aug. 30th, 2011 07:12 am (UTC)
Well, we were out of power etc. for about 28 hours. Our electric company says that they have lost major infrastructure, and for some of those that lost power, the outage may be several weeks, so we are feeling lucky.

There are people in the area that have lost homes, including one of my middle daughter's friends, but in our immediate neighborhood, no houses were badly damaged.

13 years ago this fall, we had an ice storm that caused massive power outages, and during that we were out of power and water for 5 days. We were in the final stages of a major remodeling of the house, and fortunately, just as we were about to go absolutely batty from the lack of showering opportunities, our contractor got power at his house, and brought the generator he had been using down so we could be able to warm the house enough to save the pipes. I'd just had enough time to get a lovely warm shower in when we got power back for good. Still, during those 5 days, we did figure out how to cope for the long haul.

The nice thing about living between two streams is that we can fetch grey water for tasks like flushing by hauling it in with a bucket, and we always keep bottled water on hand as part of our emergency supply kit anyway.
(no subject) - campylobacter - Aug. 30th, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
jennickels
Aug. 30th, 2011 08:02 am (UTC)
I haven't really been following the news lately (barely even watching TV). The only images I've seen of the storm was the flood damage in Vermont. It was crazy awful.

Glad your family is all okay.

My family wouldn't do so good in an emergency. Despite growing up in the midwest I've never had to deal with a natural disaster. Tornadoes never really came close to the city although last summer before we moved a few got close. We had some serious wind damage from one. The kids were all huddled in the basement while me and my dad sat in the kitchen watching. The wind was blowing so hard our brick house was rocking and you couldn't see out the window from all the rain. In the end it blew down a portion of our privacy fence, tossed shingles off of our neighbor's house and downed quite a few trees (some pretty big ones).

We were lucky. My friend's house flooded--the sewers backed up destroying everything in her basement (appliances, computers, kids' toys, stored clothing and food). It took her a week to clean it up... just after she found out she was pregnant with their 4th child. Ugh. We were one of the few that didn't get any water in the basement. And we only lost power for like thirty minutes (which is pretty good since our half of the block always lost power for hours with storms like that).
thothmes
Aug. 31st, 2011 03:05 am (UTC)
It is crazy awful. Landmarks I've known since childhood are gone. Most of the footage that has turned up on CNN has by some coincidence, been of places I know either because they are near here, near my grandmother's or my aunt's house, or near places my Dad used to take me. We're a small state, and paying for all this repair is going to be a doozy, even with FEMA help paying for 80%.

I bet if the emergency hit, your family would do better than you would guess. In the end, you do what you have to do, and in rural areas, people expect to have to help themselves, because after all, who else is there?
crazedturkey
Aug. 30th, 2011 08:32 am (UTC)
Glad you're ok! Try and stay that way!
thothmes
Aug. 31st, 2011 03:07 am (UTC)
I have every intention of doing so, because the alternative is way too scary!
ansostuff
Aug. 30th, 2011 09:29 am (UTC)
I am so sorry about the extent of the damage in your area! But I am also glad that you are okay and that your family is too. I'll keep everyone in my prayers.
thothmes
Aug. 31st, 2011 03:14 am (UTC)
My family has been amazingly blessed and lucky. None of us, whether in Philadelphia, Northern New Jersey, Manhattan, the Adirondacks, Maine, or here in New York, have lost anything of significance.

The damage will be fixed in time. Still, we are a small state without many people, and the bill for all the repairs is going to be tough on this state, even with the Federal government chipping in 80% of the cost.
sjhw_tolerance
Aug. 30th, 2011 11:39 am (UTC)
I am so glad you checked in and that all is well at your home. The pictures and stories out of New England are just amazing and sad.
thothmes
Aug. 31st, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
And so many of the pictures out of Vermont are of places I know well, either because they are near here, near where my grandmother lived, or places I've visted with my Dad.

We were indeed lucky, as were my nearest and dearest all up and down the East Coast. It will take a few years, I suspect to clean up and make things right again, but we recovered from the Flood of 1927 (here for facts and here for pictures), and we'll recover from this in time. For a small state like Vermont, it will be a huge bill, even with an 80% Federal match, just because the damage was so widespread and extensive.
lolmac
Aug. 30th, 2011 12:22 pm (UTC)
Whew! Thanks for responding to my ping -- I knew that your internet goes out every time the neighbours sneeze, so I didn't expect you to reappear early. I just wanted to know.

So glad you're okay!

I've been through the multi-day power loss dozens of times (starting in early childhood, in fact). I'm dreading having to do it here, though. This is the first time I've ever been so dependent on electricity -- when I lived in rural Washington, we had a wood stove for heat and wash water, and a camping stove for cooking. But you can't run an air conditioner on wood.
thothmes
Aug. 31st, 2011 03:35 am (UTC)
Oh. The neighbors sneezing. This explains much. We're going to have to figure out how to keep those boys from picking up colds from their little friends at school and spreading them around at home. Now where did I put that bottle of hand sanitizer?

I got a giggle from that image of the jury-rigged, wood-fired air conditioner. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that you can't do that, because if you could, I'm betting you'd see them around here. They'd be (relatively speaking) cheap to run, and probably to produce, an important consideration if it's a luxury you're only going to use a few times a year.
(no subject) - lolmac - Aug. 31st, 2011 04:01 am (UTC) - Expand
nymaeria
Aug. 30th, 2011 01:09 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness! i'm so glad you and your family are okay.
thothmes
Aug. 31st, 2011 03:36 am (UTC)
Actually, you know, I'm kinda glad we are too! ;)
amenirdis
Aug. 30th, 2011 01:22 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you're ok! We've been thinking of you and hoping you were.
thothmes
Aug. 31st, 2011 03:45 am (UTC)
Yep. We're fine. The Whirlwind thoroughly enjoyed the adventure, and was Very Impressed by the greatly expanded stream in the back yard. She says her first hurricane was exciting. I told her that I expected it to be the last of her childhood.

I hear that the Republicans are contemplating holding the FEMA money hostage until cuts equal to it are made. Do you think the Capitol police would react badly if I showed up there and began to bite the ankles of selected Republican representatives? My great-grandmother always threatened that one day she would go mad and start biting people's ankles. I could say it was genetic, and I just couldn't help myself. ;)
(no subject) - lolmac - Aug. 31st, 2011 03:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thothmes - Aug. 31st, 2011 04:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lolmac - Aug. 31st, 2011 12:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amenirdis - Aug. 31st, 2011 11:01 am (UTC) - Expand
rdamel
Aug. 30th, 2011 01:25 pm (UTC)
Very glad to hear you're OK, very sorry for all of those who are not, and for all the property damage.

We had a horrible wind and hail storm recently, 80 mph straight line winds, very unusual for NW Missouri, we usually get tornadoes. This one damaged siding and broke windows all over town, and totally destroyed much of the corn and soybean crops all across the area, particularly hard on all of our farmers as this had looked as if it'd be a good year. We lost power for just a few hours, some lost for a few days, it seems that being without electricity is the hardest thing for all of us. So I feel your pain, this has been a chaotic weather year everywhere, it seems.

Stay safe.
Melissa M.
thothmes
Aug. 31st, 2011 03:54 am (UTC)
Ugh. I hate both hail and tornadoes, hail because...well...it hurts!, and tornadoes because as an Eastern girl, they leave me feeling a bit out of my element. I had to deal with them when we lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a few years, but I never quite made my peace with them.

Earthquakes I got used to in Greece as a kid. When that quake hit in Virginia earlier, my daughter in Philly, who works in I.T. was in the office of one of the people she supports, working on his problem. He happened to hail from California, with a native Philadelphian as his wife. My daughter, who has never experienced an earthquake before, was too intrigued by the new sensation to think of being frightened, and the Californian was thrilled, because now at last his wife, who had never managed to experience a quake in all her visits to his family, would get to experience a seminal experience of his childhood. From outside the office, the voice of the secretary drifted in: "Not cool! Not cool! Very not cool!" she said.

Yes, this year we are all Having An Adventure.
beanpot
Aug. 30th, 2011 02:31 pm (UTC)
I was just coming to check on you - I am glad everything is okay for you. I have friends who lost everything and the photos are horrifying. I spent most of yesterday crying at my desk.
thothmes
Aug. 31st, 2011 04:09 am (UTC)
Yeah, I think this whole thing was harder on my grown kids, who were off living their lives in Philly, and kept hearing that things were bad, but weren't here to experience it first hand. Things they knew and loved are gone, familiar landscapes are forever changed, and they know plenty of people who, being young and just starting out themselves, were more impacted, because any impact is hard to plan for and overcome at that stage in life.

The trailer park here in town was washed away, and the residents had to be rescued at night, using a swift water rope rescue technique. Fortunately no lives were lost, but some people lost everything they had. Three of my daughter's friends are homeless.

There was a picture in the paper today of an older house in a neighboring town that survived the Flood of 1927, but was totally destroyed on Sunday, a lovely big old Victorian, with a slate roof.

We are trying to get the pig sty we live in more livable (don't worry, it's clutter not filth! Having to keep after the Whirlwind and keep her from destroying the world has made us less than demon housekeepers!) so that we can offer our guest room to one of the many people living in the elementary school emergency shelter because they have no better place to go.

Vermonters, I find, are generally lovely people who reach out and help those in need, which is why it seems so wrong that they should be stricken in this way. On the other hand, it does mean that we will be helping each other through this rough spot.

I try to take comfort in the fact that the Flood of 1927 forever altered the face of this state, and its effects can still be seen today, but we recovered from that, and built it back, better than before. We'll do it again, if the Republicans don't hold the FEMA money hostage until equal cuts are made in the Federal budget, as they are making rumblings about!
traycer_
Aug. 30th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
You know, I am so in AWE of you! You, your family, friends and neighbors went through so much - loss of power, homes, roads... yet you deal with it with such grace! Your "take what comes, deal with it the best you can and then move on" attitude is an inspiration!

*hugs you*

I'm sure you still have a long way to go to get back to "normal," but I'm glad that you all are okay!!
thothmes
Aug. 31st, 2011 04:19 am (UTC)
I don't think it's so much an inspirational attitude, as much as it is the only attitude that will work around here, where people have to depend on themselves and their neighbors in most situations, because that is what is there. Vermont, being a rural state, has long been used to the idea that if we all pitch in, we can fix the things that face us, and that the best way to do that is to try to face it with dry humor. It's part of why I love living here.

Still, I think for the people who really lost something (by now my daughter has found out that at least 3 of her friends are homeless), the bitterness of reality will start to set in soon, and the mental health professionals will have a busy time of it for a while.

I take comfort from the fact that Vermont recovered from the devastation of the floods that hit in 1927 (see here for information and here for pictures), and we can surely do it again.
penknife
Aug. 30th, 2011 02:58 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to hear you're okay!
thothmes
Aug. 31st, 2011 04:22 am (UTC)
We're glad to be okay. By now we've had a bit more of a chance to touch base with others and catch up with all the news, and my middle daughter now knows that at least 3 of her friends are homeless. We've been trying to get our pig sty of a home (clutter, not filth, honest!) to the point where we can offer a room to one of the folks that are currently living in the emergency shelter in the elementary school for lack of alternative.

We were so lucky.
mrspollifax
Aug. 30th, 2011 04:47 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear you and your family are okay. So, so awful about all the damage and loss of life, though. :( Stay safe.
thothmes
Aug. 31st, 2011 04:30 am (UTC)
We are, and will be safe. We are incredibly lucky. My 16 year old daughter knows of at least 3 friends who are currently homeless.

We're trying to get our clutter back under enough control (life spent trying to keep the Whirlwind of Destruction from living up to her name tends to make sure that we don't have enough free time to really keep up with things, and the clutter mounts) that we can offer to take in one of the folk that are camping out in the emergency shelter in the elementary school for lack of any alternative. Vermonters being the nice folk that they tend to be, I suspect that by the time we get our act together, everyone will have found a place to stay, but still, we want to make the effort.
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )

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