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Archive for February, 2014

A Song of Ice & Earthquakes

snow

January 29th

January 29th, 2014

Snowpocalypse 2014

I was good with this one. We had one day of pretty snow, while Atlanta was in Hell. It’s not unusual for us to have minor snow in January. In fact, I won the office poll for when we would have such an event. Life went back to normal while we boggled at the cluster-fuck that was Atlanta.

3 p.m.
Tuesday, February 11th

I watched the weather forecast all day because of Snowpocalypse. Atlanta took the brunt of that nightmare, and surely Atlanta would get the brunt of this projected “ice storm” that’s supposedly headed our way. I was dubious, at best. Truth be told, I just wanted another snow day, and to then get back to work. Bossman walked in the door and said, “Go home. It’s only gonna get worse.”

IMG_06686 a.m.
Wednesday, February 12th

When I rolled out of bed, everything was fine. No freezing rain, no sleet. By seven there were icicles on the Camellia blossoms and I got a text to stay home. By eight, everything sparkled. By nine, my hubs was sent home from work.

Then we heard the cracking and popping begin. The trees around our house were holding ice they were never prepared to hold, trees were bending in half, and the limbs began to give way. My brother-in-law called, stuck in his car. The hubs took his truck and went to rescue his brother. Around 2:30 p.m., a transformer exploded outside the house and everything went dark.

Two hours later, I heard the roar of engines and looked outside. It was not Georgia Power, but Florida Power & Light. Apparently, the cavalry had been called in Tuesday and power companies from three states were here. The linesman said to me, “I’m so sorry. We’ve never seen ice like this. I’m sure you know more about it than we do.”

“Not really,” I said, frowning as I looked at the tree limb that had since snapped and fallen on our cable line.

“We’ll do our best, ma’am.”

And they did. We had power back within the hour. Only three hours without power is good, yes? They’re my heroes. All was well.

*SNORT*

Yeah, right.

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I heard my hubs pull up. It took him four times to make it into the driveway. He’d cut the wheel and his truck would slide backwards on ice. He made it in, and a short while later the police arrived. The hill we live on was iced over and impassable, blocked by flashing lights just beside our driveway and at the bottom of the hill. The fine men in black and grey weren’t out there long, though. I’m sure they had other things to do since all hell was breaking loose and our street was just one puny side-street.

“We’re in trouble,” the hubs said. “Trees are down everywhere, the power’s out downtown.”

I’m still sort of in denial. After all, we got power back in three hours. No cable, no internet, but this is our chance to finally watch the rest of the season of Firefly on DVD. We always light a scented candle in the bedroom, so the lit candle was normal. We’re good, snugged in the bed with the dogs. Until around ten o’clock when the lights so delicately flickered and died a soft death.

I looked at the hubs in the candlelight. “We’re screwed.”

The hubs once again, at midnight this time, had to go rescue his brother, so he had the chance to stand at The Mill(tm) and watch transformers blow in the distance… and some strange, blue-green lights in the clouds (pay attention here, there will be a test). He came home from up the hill this time, so slid right back into the driveway. I didn’t sleep very well, so I got to hear every pop and crack, every loud crashing boom of fifty-year-old trees giving up their ghosts to the ice. I saw my breath billow out in front of my face and cloud out over the bed. Lily was snoring.

7 a.m.
Thursday, February 13th

IMG_0681The front yard is oh-so-pretty.

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The back yard is screwed.

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Still no power, we got out the chainsaw and went to work. My hubs is like that, he gets right on this stuff, and, really, what else did we have to do? I put the camera down, threw on my penguin hat, and helped. He threatened divorce if I didn’t take off the penguin hat, but I’d been wearing it since Wednesday and it was keeping my head warm. Deal with it. It only took two hours to get enough trees cut down and out of the way to discover the shed had a tree over it broken and leaning on it. Behind it, hiding from us… just kiss my ass.

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The house was built in 1953 and this ornamental concrete fence is original to the property. My heart was just sick. I can feel the argument with the insurance company, plus my anxiety shoots through the roof about the dogs. No fence; no dogs outside. Lily will have to go to work with me and everyone else can stay in the house. Hubs goes and buys privacy fence and we patched up the hole enough to allow the dogs to at least go to the bathroom without fear of them jumping the broken fence.

We’re exhausted. The power is still off. It’s warmer outside than it is in. Hubs once again braved the streets to get ice. I know, right? Ice? For the food in the fridge. The girl at the store laughed and said no one else had bought ice in days. “Oh, they will soon enough.” We packed everything in coolers and plastic tubs, ate a couple sandwiches each, and piled into the bed.

I didn’t want to think about the fish in the tank in the hallway. They were alive yesterday, and I barely looked at them today for fear of what I would see.

7 a.m.
Friday, February 14th

Screw you, Valentines Day. Shivering and starving is not how I wanted to spend it. Hubs and I both are last minute shoppers, so neither of us had a chance to get anything for the other because ICE. Hubs rolled over in his sleep and the sound woke me, making me think I heard another tree falling–I was that traumatized by the sounds in the dark at this point. I volunteered to go in and hand-write payroll at work, anything to get out of this house and not think of the fence and the dogs and the UGH and was denied. Stay home. 

We went back out into the cold to continue clean-up. I left the porch lights on so if the power came back on we would know. FPL was back in the neighborhood. I can only imagine what we looked like to those guys when they drove by and we looked at them, all puppy-dog-eyed, hoping and praying they’d stop, but they didn’t. They buzzed all over the hood, but not near near us. By five we’d had enough of chainsaws and tree limbs. We knew it was bad “out there,” but with no power, cable, or internet, we didn’t know how bad. I could barely get on Facebook with my phone (my phone is a POS) to beg information from locals. It sucks being in the dark, literally and figuratively.

Our neighbor across the street stopped by and we talked about getting everyone around us cleaned up, so that happened a little. Turns out our neighbor two houses down had their power meters ripped off their house, so that was why we couldn’t get power to the street. Until Georgia Power themselves showed up and reinstalled the meters, no one would have power. FPL guys said GP was AWOL, so the consensus was that we were SOL. We were prepared to spend another night in the cold when the neighbor pointed to our porch.

“Y’all got power!”

The little light! It was ON! The FPL guys bypassed the one house and there was LIGHT. We looked up the street at them and clapped and cheered. I don’t think I’d been that happy in months. Then I remembered my fish and bolted into the house.

I threw every tank heater we had into the tank. The tank was cloudy because the filter had restarted, but I saw tiny dead bodies… and my boy, Marley, was barely breathing. Marley is a giant common algae eater. He might be a one-dollar-fish, but he’s my sixteen-inch little boy. The house and the tank warmed by degrees and he started moving. A few of my other fish that I thought were dead perked up, but I lost all of them but four when there had been twelve. All those Emperor Tetra babies from a few weeks ago were gone, save one. It was a sad evening.

Warm, fed, and showered, we eventually crawled into bed and hit play on Firefly. The power hadn’t so much as flickered, and we were thankful for every second. It hadn’t been two weeks without power, as some had said they’d heard, but roughly forty-eight hours. That part was over, we hoped.

All was well, right?

*SNORT*

At ten-twenty-four p.m., the house SHOOK. And SHOOK. And SHOOK some more. Hubs and I both sat up, Lily sat up and laid her ears back, growling, until the rumble rolled to a stop. I looked at the hubs and he said, “That was an earthquake.”

I must have sat there a solid ten seconds before I said, “That was a fucking earthquake.”

“I just said that.”

“Yes, but that was a fucking earthquake?! We don’t have earthquakes here!”

“We don’t have ice storms, either.”

A quick check of Facebook revealed the epicenter was only about twenty miles away, the measure being somewhere between a 4.1 and a 5.4. Those mysterious lights in the sky Wednesday night? Earthquake lights–ball lightning. We had been warned, but didn’t know it at the time. Now we were worried we’d lose power again, but we didn’t. Thank the gods, with a little g, because, as a friend said, God with a capital G must really hate Augusta, Georgia.

7 a.m.
Saturday, February 15th

Just like it never happened.

Just like it never happened.

Until you leave our front yard, of course. The clerk at the convenience store said the quake had been “daily California grade” and laughed. I was just glad it hadn’t shook down any other part of my fence. We took bets on what natural disaster/strange event would happen on Saturday, but nothing did. Again, thank those little-g-gods. We got cable and internet back, briefly, on Saturday, but it didn’t come back and stay until today, so I still haven’t caught up on the news about the damage from the storm, or the earthquake, for that matter. I probably won’t get a handle on everything until I’m back at work Monday, but I hear it was worse here than anywhere else. Did it even hit Atlanta at all? I’ll find out later.

All because of this:

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An inch or so of ice.

Pretty when you squint your eyes and ignore the damage done to us, our pets, and our city.  One plea to the little-g-gods? Keep it down now, will ya? Get Mother Nature some Prozac. Just… damn.

The penguin hat, you ask?

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Lily ate the eyeballs off. I think the hubs gave it to her on purpose.

 

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