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Today's Family Magazine

When spring storms in

Mar 28, 2017 10:29AM ● By Today's Family
By Stacy Turner

April showers may bring May flowers, but in my neighborhood, they also bring power outages.  The last storm was odd, with bright blue, sunny skies above as high winds knocked out electric service far and wide below.  Like many, our power went off briefly, but returned an hour later, prompting a quick dash around the house to flush toilets and grab a drink of water.  As the wind continued, though, we lost power again.  All around town, trees were uprooted and limbs had fallen. Traffic was rerouted due to downed power lines, and high winds snapped electric poles in half, keeping power company workers busy throughout the afternoon.

Fortunately, I had recently gone grocery shopping, so we had plenty of crackers, granola bars and other nonperishable snacks in the now dark pantry.  “Don’t worry mom, we’re survivors,” my eldest assured us with bravado; in spite of the fact that she couldn’t shower after returning from track practice, since our well requires electricity to pump water. Ditto goes for flushing the toilets. My husband and I ran out the door to a meeting, fully expecting the power would return soon, since the sun was shining and the crews were still working.  So we left our young pioneers on their own.

On our way home later, we were hopeful as we noticed many homes had their service returned, as evidenced by the warm glow of light from inside their fully functioning homes.  We returned home, but couldn’t even make it down the long driveway, since a fallen tree had blocked our path.  Entering our dark house, we found the girls camped out in a bedroom bundled in blankets, reading by headlamp after having feasted on crackers and beef jerky.  They were actually giggling and getting along without the usual bickering we’d hear on a normal busy school night.  And better yet, the child who’s always plugged in to something actually read four chapters of a book without her usual whining and gnashing of teeth, since there was nothing else to do.  Thank you, First Energy!

After heating some soup on the rarely-used side burner of our outdoor gas grill, we had dinner by candlelight and scrounged enough water from the tea kettle for tooth brushing, then sent our little survivors to bed.  After a quick trip outside with headlamps and a chainsaw, the drive was cleared and the car park safely in the garage.  A call in to the electric company brought the cheery news that power was not expected to return for two days. Rural living has its advantages; sadly, quick recovery of electric service isn’t one of them.  We’ve got a gasoline-powered generator for these occasions, so we wheeled it out of the garage and plugged in the refrigerator and freezer before heading to bed ourselves.

The next day dawned, sunny and bright, with less wind yet no electric service.  School was still on, so my grubby kids ate breakfast, brushed their teeth, and dressed in warm clothes, accompanied by the sound of the generator.  Oddly, they were excited for school, if only for the flushing toilets and flowing water fountains.  The day went quickly, as they shared stories of how they toughed out the storm.

Later that night when the power returned at home, the hot showers we usually take for granted were absolutely the best thing ever.  Flipping a switch to turn on a light or click on the TV were pure pleasure, and no one even argued about what to watch.  Enjoying hot food cooked inside the house made it taste fantastic, and no one complained about what was served or having to do the dishes.  So even though a power outage can be inconvenient, going without necessities, even for a short while, made us all appreciate what we have.

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