October 4, 2011

I can’t believe it’s only Monday and I am already exhausted! Oy! Luckily our guest blogger Denielle is here with some lessons to be learned from the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. I for one have learned first hand how important power is to our daily life. I actually just bought everyone in my house flashlights (Mag Lights!) this past weekend, just in case the power goes. And don’t forget batteries! Take it away, Den…

While it may seem like old news by now, the Hurricane-turned-tropical-storm-Irene, which ignored everyone on her intended path and packed a punch in unexpected places, left us in Summit, NJ without power for 6 days 9 hours and 22 minutes.

Thanks to a generous neighbor with a gas powered generator and some jet-lagged children, we were able to use an extension chord to get our sump pump running (for you apartment dwellers, be glad you don’t know what a sump is!) at 3:30am when the power went out. The functioning of said pump saved us a basement flood.

By morning my next door neighbor had five long extension chords running like squid tentacles to all the surrounding houses, helping power sump pumps, shop vacs (for those who had to suck out the water that got in) or powering cell phones and refrigerators.

I think I must have been a pioneer woman in a previous life: my freezer was so full of ice bags that my frozen goods (minus the popsicles) survived a few days. And I had cooked a variety of things in advance so we ate cooked leftovers and got through the weekend.

Then came Monday. And we still had no power. My other neighbor started scouting the area for NJ Central Power and Light Trucks and offered all sorts of bribes to get them to come our way. But a giant tree had fallen on a major line and apparently they save the big jobs for last.

So what does one do with 3 kids and no power for almost 7 days?

We went out. A lot. The tree and downed lines only blocked one exit from our neighborhood, so we could escape and go to the library or the playground (note: the gym and town pool suffered from the hurricane and remained closed). The zoo proved to be a fun escape on day 6.

We ate early, bathed by candlelight, read by flashlight and went to bed early. The din of gas powered generators at every 3rd house proved to be a sleep enhancer for my kids who are normally super-early risers.

We got our news from neighbors on the street. We bonded. Misery loves company, after all. Granted, we only talked about what was happening with power on our street and whose basement flood was covered by insurance, but it was fun. We were all in it together.

We didn’t do laundry for six days – we all have more than 6 pairs of underwear so we were ok.  And I didn’t miss the chore!

And when the power came back, my kids watched a lot of TV.

We all had lots of warning for this storm, but you really don’t know when problems will arise.  Make sure your emergency kits are packed. The government has lots of recs, but I say batteries, flashlights and water are your basics. http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit/index.html

Good luck and may you all stay POWERFUL the next time mother nature gets angry!



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