Thursday, May 5, 2011

Our local news calls it "April's Fury." I call it "Andrea's Lesson in Getting Over a Power Outage and Realizing What's Important."

As most of you are aware, last week was a rough one for Alabama. Wednesday morning at the office seemed normal, even with a visit to the tornado shelter before lunch, which happens fairly often this time of year. That afternoon, my boss sent us to work from home for the remainder of the day, as the weather looked worse and worse. By that evening, we had lost power, along with everyone else in my part of the state, and what we thought was just another mild round of tornadoes was much, much worse. Dad and I were incredibly lucky and had no damage to ourselves or our property, but the week was not without its challenges.


Last week was already supposed to be a busy one- I'm leaving for Oklahoma very shortly and had planned on updating some material for work, getting my laundry done and packed, and mentally preparing for another 2 months on the road... but nature had other plans. We were without power from Wednesday until late Sunday evening. At first, the cell towers were not affected, but apparently once their backup power source was exhausted, we were also without phone coverage. We were basically off the grid until Friday, when cell service was restored, and I had already started to get stir crazy at this point. I had to use flashlights to read, almost fell in the toilet on several occasions due to the dark bathroom, and had honestly become kind of hard to live with because of how cranky I had become. And then the universe gave me a much needed smack in the head, and an attitude adjustment to go with it.

A coworker's house
The rest of the neighborhood

I received a message Saturday morning from a friend at work, letting me know that one of our coworkers' homes had sustained severe damage and that people from our company were going to help clear some of the debris. Anxious to help, an honestly, wanting an excuse to get some air, I headed over that afternoon. My perspective was completely changed when I saw what these families were faced with. Her beautiful property was now covered in uprooted trees, shingles and insulation. The structure itself?

Needless to say, it gave me the dose of "Shut up and be thankful that you HAVE a house" that I desperately needed. Thankfully, the colleague and her family were alright, but they and many families in our area have a long road ahead of them. If you feel compelled, please make a donation to the American Red Cross or Salvation Army- these funds have been crucial in aiding families in Alabama and other affected areas.


Most of Huntsville shut down that Wednesday night, including all the businesses in the research park- where Dad and I both work. My father is one of the most resourceful people I know- he makes MacGyver look like a pansy- and had the storm radio, camp stoves and lanterns set up within an hour of the power outage. By the time we got electricity five days later, we were working with a fully functional, generator-based "power grid" and watched disaster movies and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia every night. But what kept us going during the days in between was listening to the wind-up radio- I joked that it we were like Ralphie and his brother in A Christmas Story, listening to Red Ryder every night. 

We played countless games of cribbage, went on field trips to Publix, and just got to catch up with each other, which ended up being pretty wonderful. I won't go as far as Dad, who said yesterday (and I quote) "I really miss the power being out!"... but we learned to cope, and I wouldn't trade our hangout time for anything.


It took some creativity, but I was able to eat pretty well without power... we did have the advantage of a small 800-watt generator from the get-go that saved some of our refrigerated food. The first night I kind of got a kick out of making miso soup on our deck, thinking that the outage was going to be an hour-long event, tops. Once we were made aware that all of the Tennessee Valley's transmission system was down, I became proficient with the Coleman burners my dad brought out, and was easily able to eat a normal, plant-based diet during the entire situation.

Things have gotten so much closer to being normal this week. My office reopened yesterday, and though everyone in my sector is thankfully accounted for, many had severe damage and one completely lost their home. I'm so grateful to have gotten the perspective shift I needed all along, and, cheesy as it may be, I'm also just grateful to have a roof over my head and a healthy, injury-free body.

Next week begins a two-month stint in Ft. Sill, OK, meaning the next several blog posts should be more relevant to what I originally intended- a place to share my attempt at balancing work, fun, and a plant-based diet while facing the challenges that come with living in a hotel. Nonetheless, it's been so much fun being able to share my adventures at home and traveling for pleasure with everyone these past few weeks!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so proud of you best friend. I can honestly say that I am beyond greatful for yours and daddy Soule's safety. I cried for about an hour after I couldn't get a hold for you ALL DAY! Longest day ever! Drive safely to Lawton today and make sure you stop by and see Mommy and Daddy Timmer...they miss you (more than they miss me!) I'll call you this afternoon. Lahv lahv lahv times five!