Friday, August 24, 2007

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

Yep, eighteen hours without power with a side order of tornadoes and flash flood alerts. So I did what I usually do in bad weather -- I drove around to see what was going on. Sleeping is another option. I hear people even get pregnant during blackouts. I waited, but nothing.

Luckily, I like being out and about in bad weather. Snow storms are my favorite, but a bad rain will do in a pinch. As a suburban storm tracker I can also work up an appetite. So I stopped wherever there was power on at a fast food place. I didn't know when I would get a chance to eat again, so I used the chance to stock up at the drive thru. I was going to have plenty of cold fries, warm salads, and melted sundaes to provide sustenance during the siege.

I saw that the little creek going through my town was spilling over its banks, rolling down the hill and taking refuge under the viaduct where it could cuddle up with stalled cars.  The lightning was spectacular. The big bolts that pile drive from sky to ground were nothing compared to the ones that crackled from cloud to cloud to cloud to cloud. Watching a traffic helicopter negotiate its way through the bolts was entertaining. I kept wondering, What are they thinking? I also reached for my camera, hoping things could get ugly. Not on my watch.

The wind started it all in the middle of the afternoon -- only about fifteen minutes of it, but trees were down everywhere after it passed. The wind was followed by the rain which was punctuated by simultaneous lightning and thunder.

During a break in the mayhem I went out to my car and noticed that a huge branch from one of my trees was blocking my exit from the driveway. Hmmm. Not wanting to risk death from lightning by running back inside, I decided to get around the tree limb. I was able to pull forward far enough to get up some speed to back over and around it. With just a little tire mark on my neighbor's lawn. Eensy beensy.

The power outages were so capricious. The north side of a street might be out, but not the south. In those neighborhoods there were orange wires snaked across from one house to another as one family helped another family keep their sump pumps going.

I noticed one block of houses had power, but every other block around it was out. Usually the above ground wires in the old neighborhoods get hit before the below ground wires in the newer subdivisions. This time, it didn't matter. Ah, justice.

My street flooded. Not because the sewers were full. Twenty years ago they put in giant pipes about six feet in diameter to move the water.  But they didn't change the size of the grates in the streets. So they can move lots of water now, but it still has to get through a pinhole. And the pinhole gets blocked with debris.

My favorite was some guy driving around in a village pick up truck with his yellow lights on checking to see where the problems were.  He drove through my flooded street and never tried to unclog the grates. The contractor building the new house across the street braved the weather to do it. He also discovered his basement was full of water. Later he brought a generator to pump it out all night long. It sounded like a the warm and friendly hum of 500 lawnmowers.

When I returned home after my foray into the world of wetness, he was still at it. I went inside, went to sleep and woke up three hours later with a start. Why? Because all of a sudden it got quiet. The only sound I could hear was the noise of a lone cricket, chirping.

I don't know why, but that cricket singing in the flood made think of water skiing by the Titanic as it was going down.


screaminremo303 said...

I wondered how you were doing. It's nice to know you still have your hobbies.

psychfun said... wellness check! Ugh!

Us down south didn't get the first batch of storms, though not too far north from us did. The evening one did get us. Tornados right in my area! That was fun trying to keep two cats in the bathtub with me (no basement! Ugh)

One birdfeeder down, the hanging birdbath cracked its a goner! Someone's sliding screen door is in the lawn. We had clouds going all different directions...very wierd. Some parts had power out until 11am this morning. Some of the strip malls are still out of power here. I still had excellent attendance today so not too many even tried to use it as an excuse if they really didn't have a problem. You know students.

swibirun said...

What?  The police didn't come by to do a "courtesy check"?  :)

rgossett4195 said...

I actually was scheduled to take a group of tennis players, girls, to Naperville Central....sadly we got called back.  Nothing like outrunning a storm in a 75 foot yellow tube.   Hey wasn't only a micro burst not a tornado??!  ;)  rose