HFTP, Part 3: "Whoa…"

(Monday afternoon)
So on the drive over to my parents this morning, I saw lots of interesting stuff. We’ve had our share of wicked tornados in this part of the state, so I’m familiar with ‘the day after’. Today was a bit more strange…. there was no storm yesterday to note. There is no isolation of damage. The entire city, as I drive through, is just bizarre. Lights are still out everywhere, REALLY large things were brought to the ground. Schools are all closed, across the entire city. There are rushes on ice and batteries, most people aren’t going to work. A few more people have electricity today, and we’re hearing reports on the radio that some, in fact, never lost power. Still, as of this morning there are over 1 million households without electricity. It is the largest power problem Duke enery (a large, national company) has ever had to deal with, according to the Vice President of the company. In fact, he saw the report 1,100,000 (1.1 million) and thought it was a mistake. He didn’t even really blink or prepare to send more crews at first, thinking it “must be” 110,000 homes affected. When the extent of the widespread outage was confirmed, crews were sent in ‘caravans’ from all over the region.

The biggest concern of the day is now water. Butler County has sent out automated messages saying that backup pumps are electric, so when the current “front-line” reserves of water run out, that’s it. Some cities are on boil advisories, because sanitization efforts have stopped due to outages.

Gas is also a concern. Most stations are closed, many are open but out of gasoline. I passed a UDF on the way to my parents that was utter chaos. There were, as a conservative estimate, 45 cars in a small parking lot. Each of the two driveways had 3 or 4 lines of cars trying to get in, leaving no room for people to get out. The intersection was completely filled with people waiting to get to the station and fill up, making it difficult for the rest of us to get through.

The girls and I eventually got to my parents house with the “bag-o-meat” (from our freezer… everything else was already garbage, of course). We borrowed freezer space as well as electricity, as we plugged in various things that would hold power when we took them back home, assuming our power wouldn’t come back on today. The report is now that most neighborhoods won’t have power restored until “after the weekend”. Considering that this is only Monday, that’s still over a week. Awesome.

The day at my parents was spent with the constant sound of chain saws in the background, as the people in the neighborhood worked to clear trees, tarp roofs, gather and cut branches, etc. The power is on here, but the damage is much more extensive. Furthermore, many trees that haven’t fallen yet are hanging on edge, adding to the anxiety of the residents sleeping under those already damaged roofs.