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Thinking Out Loud

Friday, July 21, 2006

Mother Nature Kicks (My) Ass...

Well, whenever humanity starts to get cocky about how superior we are, masters of all we survey and all that jazz, it's interesting how Mother Earth likes to tap us on the shoulder and say "Excuse me..."

Or something like that.

I know several parts of the Midwest were scoured by powerful storms Wednesday and Thursday. St. Louis got hit fairly hard as well. I was out taking a walk in our neighborhood around 6:30 PM on Wednesday. We live in a circular neighborhood, and at about the 1/2 way point around the circumference, I noticed a huge black wall cloud tearing across the sky. By the time I passed the 3/4 mark and could see our house down the road, the wind had started to gust. 3 houses away, several garbage cans and a lawn chair went tumbling by as the wind picked up speed and lightning started flashing.

As I was walking up our driveway, the wind whipped leaves, stones and debris all over the place. I was hit in the head with a broken tree limb that flew off the tree from our neighbor's house. Then there was a mighty *crack* and our neighbor's tree nearly split in two as the largest limb came crashing down in their drive way. Their car was parked on the left side of the driveway, or else it would have been damaged.

All the channels were showing the weather report, about this freak storm that no one had predicted, and how it was traveling from south to north -- never a good sign for a big storm in this area. And then the sky turned a sickly greenish-yellow. Another definite not-good-sign during a storm.

We lost power just after 7 PM, as we were gathering our flashlights and whatever else we could to park down in the basement for a while. By 7:30 the storm was over. I don't think there was more than 1 or 2 minutes of rain during the whole thing, but plenty of wind. Looking out at our yard and neighborhood, it looked like a small bomb had hit -- tree limbs cracked and tossed about, garbage cans rolling down the streets, everything in disarray.

Then the damage reports started coming in on the radio. There had been two tornados in the area -- one farther to the north, and one much farther to the south. Some windows blew out of the high rise buildings in downtown St. Louis, and several press boxes at the new Busch Stadium had their windows shatter. 2-3 foot diamter trees had been uprooted and sent smashing through houses or crushing cars.

When all was said and done, nearly 1 million people in St. Louis had lost power -- right before the two hottest days to hit St. Louis this summer. Thursday had an average high of 97, with a heat index rating of 112. There were reports on the news of people who died because they lost air conditioning and either didn't or couldn't get to a cooler environment.

It also, oddly enough, triggers feelings of claustrophobia (being in confined spaces) and autophobia (being alone). Being without power is being isolated. No access to news to know what's going on. No internet. No email. No charging the cell phone after it died. Virtually no communication with friends and family to see how they're doing. It really feels like being cut off from the rest of the world, just hoping that when you finally drive by the house, this time the power will be on.

Thankfully the business offices are open and powered up today. They lost power yesterday like nearly everything else in St. Louis, but they're up and running now -- I can finally check some email, check some news, and feel connected to the world again.

So while it's been horribly inconvenient -- we've been without power for 36 hours and counting, and it's estimated to be out another 36-48 hours -- at least our family is safe. And getting to log on, even for just a little bit, helps curb the feelings of autophobia.


  • Well, at the rate they are fixing the power outages, there's no way their estimates are going to be right. They returned power to 80,000 houses today, there's over 380,000 left, just in the St Louis area. Given that they're probably fixing the biggest incidents first, I'd be very surprised if they kept up with yesterday's rate.

    I'll consider myself lucky if I have power by Monday.

    By Blogger hibikir, at 6:49 AM  

  • I'm about on first name terms with the staff at St Louis BreadCo on Northwest Plaza.

    Free WiFi is wonderful.

    By Blogger Timotab, at 1:40 PM  

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