Saturday, July 12, 2014

July already? Post Hurricane Arthur....

Apparently I am remiss on keeping up this blog - I see it has been 6 weeks + since my last post! Yes, we are alive and well and very happy to be powered up again! So much has happened locally since I last wrote - the tragedy in Moncton with the RCMP and a deranged gunman; several local families devastated by a horrific car accident; an extreme summer heat wave, etc.... But today, I will refer to the recent hurricane.

As you may know, if you live in the Western Hemisphere or North America, we were hit one week ago by Hurricane Arthur. Now, normally, this is not a problem. We may have extra winds and hard rain - perhaps even a short power outage. It does not hit inland this far and so therefore it is no big deal, but not this time.

Today is July 12 and one week ago on July 5th, Arthur hit the Maritimes - hard! Nova Scotia and PEI are on the coast so they expect to be hit harder than we do. However we are inland New Brunswick and it wiped out our infrastructure  and shut down our power grid, telephones and cell towers for days. In fact, 1 full week later, there are still many New Brunswick homes without power. Last I heard last night was that at the height of the storm 250,000 homes were offline and by about 5PMyesterday there were still 20,000 homes offline. Most would be up by Sunday and a few more not until about the 15th. WOW!

We had no phone service for 5 days and no power for 6 days. We closed up shop and hoped that we could open again soon. This is my story of how we dealt with things.

NOT my house - just one of the many NB
trees that came down in the storm
Day One: Saturday morning 8:10AM I am baking for the shop - cinnamon buns rising and unicorn bars in the oven - power goes dead. Around 10AM some people dropped in and we managed a lukewarm pot of coffee from the coffee machine. 11AM phone my Mom - let her know power is out in case my daughter in Alberta can't reach me. Noon - phones dead. Close shop. Late afternoon drive to Maine for a dinner reservation made weeks before. Cross the border and watch the road as the trees sway, rain pours and
sections are almost washed out. Wonder if we will make it home again.

Day Two: Sunday - hire friends to take my freezer across the border to plug in at another friends so that I do not lose all of the ice cream I picked up on Friday and my years worth of pork/beef. Rain has stopped. Trees across roads, lines down, no word of power coming on again for days, possibly two weeks. My Len decides we need a generator - so we start the hunt - knowing all of NB is doing the same thing. Success! We will have limited power again. That evening a neighbour came by to see if he could lend us his generator. So sweet! This late '70's man with extreme health issues had spent the day going door to door with his generator - for free  - to help people preserve their food.
Me in full mosquito netting and long sleeves! OUCH!

Day Three: Camping outside our house, heating water on the BBQ to do dishes, cooking, etc.. We realize  - our food is safe, we have a generator and we may as well enjoy this forced vacation. Time for drinks! AND movies - thankfully we have lots of movies to watch on the DVD/TV via the generator. We are ok. We have no kids - so this is our resting time. My only stress is not knowing if/when/how my child will get home this week from Alberta since the airport was down, power out, etc.... We loaned the generator to a couple of people to help them out.

Day Four: Very grateful for our friends across the border who are allowing us to use their phone/computer to contact the outside world. Enjoying the people who drop in as they see us in the yard to give us updates on what they have heard... It is still looking like the weekend before we get back online. Still no phone service.

 I have never been so happy to watch convoy's
of power trucks. Thank you NB Power, Maine Power
and Quebec Power for all working to help out!
Day Five: My daily chat with the mail man as he tells me how the power trucks are getting closer and how people are doing. He truly is passing on the word as he goes along. I am sure his journey was longer last week as people asked him for information. Time to go to Fredericton and hope that my baby's plane is on schedule and she will arrive home. Still no confirmation but trying to communicate as much as possible. After arriving in Fredericton, we have dinner and realize that although Fred proper is online, many side areas are not. (Our waiter tells us how he can't wait to shower again - perhaps this is info he did not need to share?) Arrive home at midnight, after Jessica arrives home safely. YAY! Plus, added bonus - the phone is sort of working! Progress? I think so! I also managed to call my daughter in Vancouver - she is used to speaking with me daily so when I called she said, "Who is this? Sarah Sherman? I don't think I know you?" Funny girl!

Day Six: Still on a forced vacation. Very fortunate that we have a generator to keep things cold/frozen in the fridge and freezer and allows us light to read or power to watch movies. Feeling grateful. I know that we could have had it much worse and that I would not feel so tranquil had my husband not purchased a generator which definitely made life easier. This is the day the Fire Department came by and delivered flats of bottled water to homes - they were donated by Sobey's and the Provincial Gov't. Now it is 6PM and POWER is on! Yay! All of a sudden the house noises sprang back to life. The energy changed - we all went to do different things, activities, internet, etc....Life begins to return to "normal".

Just another day to the chickens....
What did I learn? We are blessed to have what we have. We are fortunate to have amazing neighbours and a community that reached out and helped each other. Later as I came online I saw how all of my surrounding communities had plans in place to assist. Showers opened, water stations, meals, loaned generators, etc.... I am always amazed at the heart people show when they have to pull together.

What did I think about for those 6 days? As the days progressed and I watched neighbour help neighbour, I considered this fact - what if we did not know if the power would ever come back on? What if this were an apocalyptic event? Would we be so helpful or become hoarders? I know that many things went through my mind and I had to consider how things might be different if we did not know if we would ever be online again or if the food sources were running out. Minutes from our home, across the border, we had access to restaurants, stores and gas stations - but what if we didn't? It definitely gave me pause. 

In any event, the quiet (when the generator was off) was absolute quiet. The rest - was my summer camping vacation (although with the size of the mosquitoes I was happy to head indoors at times!) My neighbours and community are amazing! AND  I have to admit it, as peaceful as it was at times - I LIKE HAVING POWER!