Zeta Aftermath

Well, when my coworkers and I bid each other goodnight on Wednesday, we didn’t realize it would be nearly a week before we came back! Although we knew the system was headed our way, we’ve had so many gulf systems impact us this year that it was difficult getting worked up over yet another. We did the library equivalent of battening the hatches (throwing tarps over our bookcases in leak-prone areas) and went our separate ways.

Tree slalom, soon to be added to rural sports like hunting and mudding

I fully expected Zeta to be nothing but wind and lots of rain, same as the other hurricanes that have come our way this year. The wind picked up before midnight, and we lost electricity roughly around that time. I still remember the wind from Hurricane Ivan, back in 2004, and the ominous constant popping of trees in the pine forests around my grandmother’s house. This time, the wind itself drowned out any sounds of falling timber: it sounded like the sustained rumble of a passing train, and at first I thought it was: where I live, it’s not unusual to hear the trainyard, either from passing freighters or from cars crashing into one another as a train is built. But this roar lasted nearly three hours, with more distinct bursts of wind.

While one of my housemates monitored the storm on their phone, the other pair of us stood watch on the porch in hopes of being forewarned if a tree was about to fall. The wind was exhilarating at first, but with so much stuff flying around we wound up standing just inside the house with our heads peeking out. By three o’clock, the worst in our area was over. Having been surprised by the wind, I was relieved that nothing had fallen on the house or our cars — especially my new one!

The road is completely covered by trees. That dirt area to the side goes up a hill where some people live (and who were trapped there by treefalls further up the dirt path) , but I could get around the side here.

From phone calls throughout the night and early the next morning, I realized that I’d been stupidly lucky: many of my relatives had trees on their homes or cars, and at the “family home” (where my grandparents began keeping house and having kids, now one of my aunts lives there), the big shed was wiped out when the massive pecan fell. Everyone was out of power, and a lot of roads were impassible. I therefore kept put that day, reading The Pioneers by David McCullough and cooking up all the breakfast sausage in my fridge to prevent wastage. I avoided using my phone, but late that evening once I’d learned that one highway was clear, I went for a drive there to recharge. I found that one town in Elmore was apparently untouched, with its lights shining bright, so I used that to start checking on people and check in.

Guess what path the hurricane followed.

Because I still had water and gas, I sat far more comfortably than most who are or were still powerless: my eldest sister, for instance, is reliant on electricity for her well water, and since her county was one of the two hardest hit, she’s been having to fill up jugs of water from other places for daily cooking and cleaning, and use a propane setup to heat them. (I think for Christmas I’ll give her a rain barrel…). On Thursday night, I checked a few stores that stock camping supplies in hopes that they had a fireside percolator: they didn’t, but they might have originally. The camp stoves and propane/butane canisters were all sold out in the three places I checked. I did buy instant coffee for the first time; I found it tolerable when I tried it Friday morning.

Not even Ivan felled this many trees in our county.

My Zeta experience has been relatively mild: no damage to my home, and no serious inconveniences that I wasn’t prepared for already by having a gas cooking setup and canned goods at the ready. I rather enjoyed being able to talk to neighbors on my morning walks, who would otherwise be inside planted in front of televisions and the like, and I spent of the weekend hanging out with powerless friends and enjoying the “eat it before it thaws and ruins” feasts of sausage and the like. Part of me liked the roughing it, seeing the house lit with lamps and watching the stars come out, no longer drowned by the many amber lights of my neighborhood. That said, I was very relieved to come home from a night with friends on Friday night to find lights on….if only for music!

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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4 Responses to Zeta Aftermath

  1. Mudpuddle says:

    thanks for the update: interesting and appalling at the same time… i feel for those who lost their homes and hope they get some help from some source… losing things like that can be really depressing and hard, especially on older persons… glad you could weather it okay…

    • Indeed. Fortunately we had no known casulties, despite the number of near-misses…one of my neighbors had gotten up to peek outside when a tree crashed into his bedroom! He would have been badly injured had he been in bed at the time.

  2. Marian says:

    😮 That last photo, wow.

    • Just one of MANY — one home had NINE trees of that size fall in the same time, damaging both the main building and a guest house. The road they live on was blocked off by the power company because there were lines down on both sides. The storm didn’t seem as powerful as Ivan, but as far as I can tell it’s done considerably more damage here.

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