Monday, September 6, 2010

When the Lights Go Out

It was a Dark and Gloomy NIght...

Black Clouds
We seldom have thunderstorms in California, at least not nearly as often, or as severe as they get in many other sections of the country, but we do occasionally have a power outage.

This past winter we did have more than the usual number electrical storms however, and though out outages were rather scattered, we did have one or two that happened during daylight hours, so no one hardly noticed. Well maybe they were interrupted from their computer stuff, or something they were watching on TV, but not enough to worry about, or to stop cooking, as we have natural gas, and we can live just fine without heat or the air conditioner for half an hour.

Since our last really terrific storm was in the early 1980s, I will use that one, since it was more eventful than most have been in recent memory.

As they say, "It was a dark and gloomy night," the winds were howling, and the trees bending in submission to the terrific force of near hurricane force sustained winds, with even stronger gusts that rattled and even cracked our largest living room window all the way across. Fortunately, we had some (ahem) duct tape, and we quickly taped the cracked window that faced the windward side of our home.

It took the two of us to get the job done, as one held pressure on the window, while the other quickly taped over the crack, and then taped again, on the diagonal, to reinforce the broken window, hoping it would hold until the storm passed, or at least weakened somewhat.

The electric stayed on much longer than we expected. Our two girls were waken by the howling noises, and the terrific rustling of the leaves and branches of a huge Olive tree just outside their window.

My husband and I had been peacefully sleeping until things got really loud, and both girls started knocking on our bedroom door. They rushed in, and begged to jump into bed with us, as they were frightened that the Olive tree might break the window in their bedroom.

I could see strange enormous flashes of lightning above the swiftly moving clouds through our bedroom drapes, and it looked rather eerie. I finally got up, and opened the drapes just enough to see the sky full of the most dreadfully dark clouds I have ever seen, with gigantic flashes of lightning, one right after another.

It was then that I realized there was no sound of the usual thunder, and the clouds were just flying past, almost like speeding cars on a California freeway, only much quicker. These clouds were moving faster than I have ever seen, even to this day.

Oh yes, during all this excitement, the power did go out, and since it was the middle of the night, or very early morning, the girls stayed huddled in out bed, even while we went to check on the area surrounding our home, including the Olive tree by the girls bedroom, and the ever present Palm trees that normally stood stately and straight around the pool. Now, however, the Palms were really bent over and looked as if they might even break like match sticks.

In this instance, I think the power going off was least of our concerns, and the girls eventually went back to sleep in our bed, until morning. Even with the power off, it really wasn't dark. All that flashing lightning, over and over, one right after another, and many flashing in unison, it lit up the house, so that one really did not have need for alternative lighting.

Morning revealed the devastation all around the city, with dozens of uprooted trees lying across normally bust road, and boulevards, as well. Some lay across smashed vehicles, while a few had actually fallen on people's homes.

School was out for a day or so, and that gave us all time to spend some family time, preparing favorite comfort foods, and watch a movie or two on television.

Of course there was a fair amount of cleanup to be done around our place as well. fallen palm fronds to be gathered and disposed of, lots of twigs and such to be cleared.

Lots and lots of leaves and other trash to be removed from the pool, and dealing with the overflowing pool, also had to be taken care of.

It all certainly could have been much worse, but still, there were reports of a few tornadoes in surrounding towns. The tornadoes destroyed a few patio covers, and ripped a few more trees from the ground, but for the most part, we all considered ourselves to be rather fortunate that things did not get any worse.

Since no one was really going anyplace until roads were cleared of debris, we stayed home, made popcorn, played board games, and just let the outside world do what it must for a day or so.

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