You may have heard that the East Coast was hit by Hurricane Irene. Historically, I do not get along with people/entities named Irene. I had a co-worker of that name once and she was a horrible woman. The only people in the world I get along with worse than the Irenes are people named Linda. I can think of ONE PERSON I know with that name whom I do not want to kill.
But – hurricane. Despite the fact that I was a Girl Scout and Freddie was a Boy Scout, we are not very well prepared for these sorts of things. Did we have any D batteries in the house for our flashlight and/or radio? No, we did not. Drinking water, just in case? Of course not. A weather radio? Nope. So, last Friday (the day before Irene was scheduled to land in NJ), we tootled around town half-assedly looking for some of these items. Target – nope. CostCo – no, but weirdly enough it wasn’t nearly as busy as CostCo generally is. Granted, there was a sign at the door saying “We are out of D batteries, C batteries, bottled water, and generators.” Okay, then. We did need coffee, so I got that and we figured we might as well get some Vitamin Water, since it was there and hey! Water!
Seeing our fellow New Jerseyans freaking right out about the impending hurricane does rub off on a person, so we decided we should probably get some water, at least. But where? Oh, wait! The third-tier grocery store! DING! We stopped in there and marveled at the depth and breadth of the selection of groceries from Latin America (the bulk of this store’s clientele), and were rewarded with an entire aisle of bottled water, at a lower price than my grocery store would have had it! Score!
Turns out we did need to hit up the regular grocery store for bread, and I am very particular about my bread. Unfortunately, the suburban vultures had cleaned the place right out. Even the shitty Weight-Watchers bread was gone, and the few loaves left were rye bread, confirming my long-held belief that rye bread is gross. Wandered around the store, watching the people freaking out and getting snitty with one another over the last box of water crackers (“But whatever shall we serve with the caviar, Muffy?”), until we came to the bottled-water aisle. It was bare. Even the expensive Volvic water was completely gone. One lady just shrugged and grabbed one of the few remaining cases of Perrier. Why not, right?
Thankfully, the bread-and-water vultures hadn’t cleaned out the liquor store, so I got what turned out to be not quite enough wine and we headed home. We’d already done the outdoor prep, using our vast array of bungee cords to secure the patio furniture and trash cans, so all we could do was wait. My brother and sister-in-law arrived shortly after, rightly guessing that they wouldn’t be able to make it back to their house before the fun started. They planned to wait out the worst part of the storm with us and then head home.
And wait we did. Facebook and Twitter were blowing up with “OMG HURRICANE” posts, but it was still SUNNY here. Cognitive Dissonance for 100, Alex! I get that – the media was freaking out all over itself about it, and the images coming in from North Carolina were a bit disturbing, but after all that preparation, nothing was happening. Eventually, the wind picked up and it started to rain. It rained and hurricaned overnight (or so I’m told – red wine is a great sleeping aid), and we woke up to a couple of leaves in the yard and a damp basement. We survived! Irene was a dud!
Not that I wanted huge levels of devastation and destruction, but come on – a good storm would have been nice.
Oh, wait. On Sunday, we went out with the dogs to walk around and see how high the river managed to get. We’d had some pretty fierce rains earlier this year that closed roads and flooded some areas, but we were unprepared to get to the end of the street and not be able to go any farther. The river had flooded through to the canal and up the road a bit. We walked toward town but couldn’t go far since the town was a little bit under water. One of these days I’ll post pictures to go along with this, but it’s been awhile since the town flooded like this.
Still, we counted ourselves lucky, and dropped the dogs off at home so we could get in the car and check out the surrounding areas. Freddie needed to do drive-bys on a couple of properties anyway, so we did that. There was quite a bit of flooding in the area, which surprised no one, and there were a lot of people out walking around, which was unusual. We swung by the grocery store to get things for lunch and when we got home, THE POWER WAS OUT.
I mean, what the fuck. We’d gotten through the rain and the wind and the freaking SUN WAS OUT, but no power? Sigh.
Figured it was a fluke and it would be back on shortly. Figured wrongly!
Dinnertime rolled around and nobody felt like cobbling together a meal out of the rando things from the fridge, so we went out in search of something that was open. Our diner was closed with no power, but the local greasy spoon was open, lights shining into the dusk. It was as busy as I’ve ever seen it, and it was obvious that they weren’t quite ready to deal with this kind of customer rush because it took 20 minutes just for us to place our order. One woman was up at the counter being a total cunt to the guys working because they weren’t getting her food out fast enough. It’s always the fat bitches who complain about not getting their food, isn’t it? I’m sure that lady could have skipped a meal or five and been just fine but of course she was being a total bitch. In times like these, everyone needs to just take a step back and be a little patient. The world isn’t going to end if you can’t get your cheesy fries, you fat fuck.
ANYWAY. Seconds after we placed our order (and paid, natch), the power died. We waited it out for about 10 minutes, but The Jillian started making “I’m hungryyyyy” whiny noises, so we figured we should try our luck elsewhere. Got a refund and left, but as we passed by on the way home, all the lights were back up and running. FIGURES. We ended up grilling the chicken we had and making sandwiches in the dark. I was forced to drink an entire bottle of Dom Perignon to keep it from getting warm, and I did that while reading by candlelight. It was quite nice, actually.
Luckily, we’re not wholly unprepared and we did have the water we’d purchased as well as a big box of Shabbat candles. So we had light enough to get around, and laptop batteries were mostly charged but with the router out of service, we didn’t have any internet.
Monday dawned with no power and I started to worry about the food in the fridge. I knew there was no way in hell I was going to find any ice, but I managed to get the sensitive things (like dairy products) into a cooler with the existing ice from the freezer. Jillian and I went on a quest to find some ice and we did eventually locate some in a liquor store 15 miles away that had been closed all day Sunday and thus hadn’t been attacked by Ice Vultures yet. So I did get most of the fridge things on ice, eventually. And then I got out the Mr. Clean and scrubbed the shit out of the fridge and freezer.
A surprising number of people in our neighborhood have generators, as we learned when we headed to bed. Following the hurricane, the weather turned beautifully mild and we were able to have the windows wide open, a thing that has been rare this humid summer. I fell asleep to the low rumble of generators through the too-dark night.
Tuesday. Still no power. Also Day 2 with NO COFFEE, which is never a good thing. By now, I’d more or less had it with this whole Amish charade. I’d made all the Amish jokes I could think of and we were starting to run out of food that didn’t require cooking. To add to my joy, Jillian slept so hard that she peed her bed, which meant LAUNDRY! Well, can’t do laundry without electricity (cos I don’t have a washboard or I would have given it a shot), so we packed up the dirty clothes and sheets and went searching for an open laundromat. Found one, did the laundry and then stupidly thought we’d be able to hit the grocery store on the way home. Nope. With no stoplights, the powers that be had blocked off the highway intersections and we would have had to go 3 miles out of our way to turn around to get to the store and then who knows how far in the other direction to get turned around to get home.
[Obviously, if you’ve spent any amount of time in New Jersey, you will understand about having to turn around a lot to get where you’re going.]
Instead, we stopped at home to see if the power had come back on. It hadn’t, so we hatched a plan to maybe get one of those Coleman camping lanterns because you see, we are having guests this weekend. I had to go to Walmart, of all fucking places, but of course they didn’t have lanterns. Or flashlights. Or batteries. Or ice. But! BUT! There were other stores in areas that hadn’t been bashed as much as our area! Let’s go there! And that is how I ended up in a second Walmart, despite my better judgement. The second one didn’t have lanterns or batteries or flashlights, but it did have a cheap cooler (we needed a 3rd one for beer) and ICE! So that’s what I got.
Freddie got home yesterday and we sort of threw up our hands and didn’t even bother to see if there was anything we could slap together for a meal. We just went to the diner. Not our diner, and not the backup diner, but the backup backup diner. I had grilled cheese, which is my ultimate diner go-to, and as we ate, we discussed strategy. We have friends coming in for the weekend, and without power, we would have to rearrange some things and acquire more flashlights and figure out food and blahdeeblah. A plan was hatched.
On our way home, there were encouraging signs. The traffic light that had been out since Sunday (thus prompting the town to put up temporary stop signs that were promptly ignored) was working again. Houses that had stood dark for the previous two nights were ablaze with light. COULD IT BE? We turned down our street and yep, there were lights on! Before we left for the diner, I’d flipped the switch to the porch light. A hopeful gesture, really, but it was a plea as well. An electrical prayer, if you will. That light was shining when we pulled in the driveway. We had electricity again. I wouldn’t have to murder the family after all.