Hurricane Irene paid a visit to the East Coast this weekend causing unprecedented disruptions in mass transit, major flooding and other destruction as well as claiming lives from Virginia up into New England. The storm has left, but here in Connecticut, we still are experiencing her aftermath, which has led me to reflect on some things while sitting in our dark house waiting for restoration of power (after all, there isn't a lot else you can do in a dark house but think).
Observations during this time seem to fall into two categories: what is is easy to do and what it is hard to do when you don't have electricity.
What it is hard to do:
- Flush the toilet, take a shower, do laundry, brush your teeth, wash. We have a well operated by an electric pump, hence, when the power goes out, so does the water. We can do all of the "fill-the-bathtub, put-baggies-with-water-in-your-freezer precautions, and they help, but bottom line is that when you don't have running water, all of these tasks either have to be modified or eliminated. (In Vermont, we had a gravity-fed spring, which, in times like these, seems like the only logical way to set up a water system.) Things we are modifying: bathing, flushing the toilet. Things we are eliminating: laundry, dishes (paper plates and plastic utensils for the duration).
- Cook. We are luckier than some because we have a gas stove. The burners still can be operated when the electricity is out. This isn't the case for our neighbors with electric ranges. We also stocked up on charcoal and can grill food quickly defrosting in the freezer.
- Clean. There is a lot of extra down time to notice just how dirty the house is, but no water to clean it thoroughly. The electric-run vacuum also sits quietly in a dust pile.
- Communicate. No TV, no internet (unless you are lucky enough to have a smart phone). Radio still is the main way to find out what is happening, though it seems harder to find clear stations than it used to be (high definition and subscription-based radio have taken over the tune-in-with-an-antenna method. Our land line, which is operated y cable, goes out with the electricity, so cell phones are the only way to call, and at least here in Connecticut, officials were discouraging their use during the storm because the circuits were clogged. What does work very well, however, is texting. I didn't have this capability until a couple of months ago and now I am SO grateful I took the plunge with my new Droid smart phone.
- Run a business. It really is difficult to run a business these days without a phone, internet and a computer.
- Keep cool or hot. Without fans, air conditioners or heat, we're at the mercy of the weather. Thankfully, it was muggy, but not too hot for Irene. One storm that took our power out for almost a week in Vermont hit in freezing weather. Not fun.
- Not be reminded of God's provision and power. All of the things we miss while they are out are amazing gifts that God has provided for our comfort and well being. Also, a raging river and winds whipping trees out by their roots are small forces compared to the love and wrath of God.
- Slow down. Normal routine is disrupted. There isn't anything we can do about it. Evenings in the dark are particularly slow. No TV, no putting in a DVD, no reading once the sun sets, no catching up on some work. It is during these times I fully understand the old agricultural lifestyle with people getting up with the sun, working hard during daylight and going to bed early.
- Appreciate the pioneers. What a hardy bunch. I think it's a hardship to have to have to walk down to the creek to haul water to flush the toilet. These folks rode and walked for days and miles in between water holes, dodging hostile natives to arrive at a spot where they had to cut down trees and plow land to homestead a place where they probably thought it was high luxury to walk down to the creek.
- Get frustrated. Part of our town has power. Part doesn't. How many times will I flip that bathroom light switch or the garage door opener before I remember that it is pointless?
- Become covetous of our neighbors' possessions -- some have generators.
- Clean out the refrigerator. Perishables you can't consume don't last long.
- Be grateful. This inconvenience is temporary. I think of folks around the world where running water and electricity are nonexistent and where women going to bed in the dark are not safe.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
You don't realize how much you depend on things until they are no longer available. Also, you realize your priorities. When our electricity was off for several days following the tornado that struck my town, it was interesting to see how various people I came in contact with were handling things differently. Most heart-warming was watching neighbor helping neighbor. We are recovering, but I rather miss the community spirit and service to others that is fading back to normal...
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