23 January 2007

Nine days.

That's how long it took to get power back to our house.

We are lucky: There are still about 10,000 people in the city without power. At least one professor I know is living out of his office with his family, still, 10 days after the storm.

Yesterday I took time off to clean the house, scrub the fridge and floors, and move our things over from the rental where we were staying. There's at least one more load left. I still need to clean our deep freeze of the primordal frozen ooze in the bottom. That's tonight's project. Ick.

This weekend will probably be spent chainsawing the brush and trees down in our back yard. We need to reset the rock around a flowerbed, too. The ice played havoc with that, as well.

All in all, we came out well, if a bit cranky and frazzled. And now we know what to do next time:

* Have water. Lots of bottled water. We never lost water, but I know people who did. Best to have enough to get each person through at least two days.

* Put fuel in your cars before the storm hits. We actually know this, but didn't do it. We've lived north for years, and before a blizzard comes, you fill your tank. This time, we were busy and rushed, I was sick, and so it didn't get done. Then we were among those scrambling for gas after the storm, when 90 percent of the city was out of power. No power = No working gas pumps.

* Plan what you'll need for at least a week if you have to leave your home. On this, we did pretty well. I packed clothing to get us through, warm things, and as much as I could cram in a suitcase.

* Take all your important papers with you. We forgot this, but at least we had the option of going back to our house a day later and getting them. If it had been a hurricane, we'd have been screwed. Insurance papers, passports, birth certificates, financial statements. Take them with you. Buy a fireproof safe to keep them in, one that you can carry.

* Check the batteries. The first night, we figured out we had two working flashlights, and one was a Fisher Price kids' version. Ditto on the weather radio/battery-operated radio. Once power's gone, you are toast.

* Keep a landline phone. We have this, and it helped family members to know they could call us. Our cells stayed charged (car chargers), but there's no guarantee of the towers staying up (my coverage was awful, and I had tons of dropped calls while I was trying to work that first Monday).

* Have food ready that can be cooked over a fire. Again, I did well. We had tons of canned food. We had a woodstove, so we could eat.

* Have tons of firewood. Again, we did fine here. My parents delivered a stack this fall, and it was enough to get us through.

* Wrap pipes. My husband had to scramble to Lowe's late one night to get insulation to wrap our pipes. We should have done it years ago (just good fuel economy, actually). But it keep our pipes from freezing.

* Have a back-up, back-up, back-up plan. Our back-up plan fell through when my cousin lost power. So did our back-up back-up. It was sheer luck that we found a place to stay, and didn't have to spend a fortune in hotel fees. Plan three steps away from what you think you'll need to do. Next time, we know we can go to our church and stay. Or my office. Neither is ideal, but both were warm and had access to showers.

The more you know.

May none of you ever have to use these tips, but get them lined up, just in case.

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