I was going to share this yesterday but decided to instead tell you about our adventures in water main breaks. So for those who were waiting for the continuation from part 1, here’s more of the story.
In September of 2008 we had a Tropical Storm in the Midwest. In what was called a once-in-a-lifetime event, Hurricane Ike blew inland and merged with another storm system, then blew farther north and made a huge mess in states located nowhere near an ocean.
Earlier I thought it would be fun to take a little trip back in time, so I started sharing the text of emails I sent to my parents and family in the aftermath of the storm (edited to disguise names and correct as many typos as I could find). The first part of the story is posted here. We obviously had no idea how serious the situation was while we were sitting at the soccer game, but we figured it out on the wild drive home.
Tuesday afternoon (continued)
Thank God for cell phones. One of our church elders called about canceling the scheduled church board meeting. Jay found out that the Elder1 and his wife were locked out of their home due to the power outage knocking out their security system and their having forgotten a house key. Jay told them to come to our place. Both men got on their cell phones, which by this time weren’t getting very good signals, and tried to contact everyone to cancel the meeting. We canceled our small group (D-group, Life Group, whatever you call it). I was able to inform somebody that our son would not be coming across town for Bible quiz team practice.
I was able to text my friend and found out that our home school co-op was canceled for the next day due to the power outages. She lives out in the country and was running her fridge on a generator. Her fear was not for trees falling as much as wind damage to the house itself.
I have never seen a storm like this one…so much wind with minimal precipitation. I heard later that winds were sustained at 35-50 mph, which is tropical storm speed. Gusts were recorded officially at 74 mph and unofficially at 80+ mph…hurricane force. Apparently Ike hooked up with another weather system and created a once-in-a-lifetime situation.
The wind died down before the sun set and everyone in the neighborhood emerged to assess damage. Most families, including ours, started clean-up immediately. The youth minister showed up at our house. He claims he only microwaves and needed to find a woman who could cook.
The single mom across the street had what looked like half a tree on her roof, so Jay and some other neighbors hauled themselves and their chain saws up a ladder and took care of it in short order. The youth minister & Elder1 helped move limbs to the curb. Single Mom was delighted and grateful. As much as I heard about and saw people acting like jerks in the aftermath of the wind and power outages, watching those men gave me faith in humankind.
Elder1 and Wife1 left to find a pharmacy with electricity so they could get her medications. They wound up several exits away. I opened cans of veggies, beans, and broth to make soup to cook on the side burner of the gas grill. Elder1 and Wife1 had been out to lunch before the storm and had [bakery] bread in the car, so when they returned we had that and the soup and a jar of [Sister]’s delicious homemade peach butter and felt we were “roughing it” in style. Elder1 kept threatening to break into their house, but we convinced him that breaking into even his own house on this night might be a bad idea. They elected to spend the night with us.
Jay and I have extensive t-shirt collections, so we were able to outfit Elder1 and Wife1 with more comfortable clothes than the church outfits they were still wearing. Then Jay received a call from a single lady in the church who was alone and without power. Friends across town had power and offered her a place to stay, but she needed transportation. Jay & the youth minister went to pick her up and deliver her to her overnight lodging. I sent the kids to bed.
Elder2 and Wife2 showed up after Jay & the youth minister left. We fed them soup and bread and peach butter and got their news. They had been driving around and reported that the malls on either side of us had power as did some neighborhoods. Elder1 declared our gathering a “hurricane party” and seemed amused by the idea. The taxi drivers returned and the “party” broke up at 11 or so, the youth minister left, Elder2 & Wife2 left, and everybody claimed a candle or flashlight to make it up the stairs and to bed.
I suppose I should be cutting these posts off at more of a cliffhanger moment to make it exciting, but somehow it fits to stop at times of safety.
Through all of this I learned the importance of keeping my cell phone charged despite the possibility of it not working due to an overloaded system or wind-damaged cell towers. When the system is up it’s best to have the phone ready to take advantage of it. I now own a solar weather radio (similar to this one) that can charge my phone when the power is out. I also observed the importance of having non-electronic backups to certain things, like home entry, and having access to medications. There are items I now carry with me every day because it.
I also learned that having family & friends around you is so important. Encouragement is valuable. Helping hands are valuable. Different skills and resources are valuable. And by the way, if God made us all the same, most of us wouldn’t be necessary. Everyone wants to be needed, and everyone is.
Have you ever had unexpected overnight guests? How did you handle it?
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