6/25/13 The Derecho

Yesterday we had a severe summer storm called a “derecho”.  It was a very frightening experience for me.  We had had a little rain in the morning, but that soon burned off and the skies were blue and sunny.  However, in just a few minutes, during the afternoon, everything changed.  The sky turned a vicious black color and the streetlamps came on.  The wind began to blow with an awful noise and intensity that sounded like something big and heavy was rushing past the house.  The trees bent over double; branches ripped off and littered the back and front yards.  I put my ears down and whined, tail between my legs.  Something bad was happening and Dad was nowhere around to stop it, this time.

The the rain came, pouring down in thick gray sheets so that I could not see the house across the street.  In the blink of an eye all the lights went out and Air Conditioner stopped his grumbling. Understand that this all happened in a few of your human seconds, one thing right after the other.  Jamie and Mom got a battery-operated lantern and we all trooped down to the basement, into one of the small, spare rooms with no windows.  It was pitch-black down there, and very cold, and the three of us huddled together with the lantern on an old human bed (yes, even I was coerced onto the human bed!) and we stayed like that for a long time.  We were so insulated down there that my people could barely hear the sirens going off or the thunder crashing; and above all, the shrieking of the ever-present wind.  But I heard it all, and although I was afraid, I stayed put to protect my masters.

Eventually, the rain stopped and the wind died down.  We ventured cautiously back upstairs.  Still, no power and it was getting darker.  Soon, dark-time did come and with it, a sharp drop in temperature.  You would never know it had been a hot summer day only a few hours earlier!

Mom fretted about the fish tanks.  She found out the power outage had affected over two thousand people in our small area alone, and the electric company had no idea when the juice would be back on.

The quiet descended like its own kind of thunder.  Mom lit candles but the house was plunged into an inky blackness with no moon or outside light to help us.

Dad came home but he did not magically bring the lights and power with him.  I began to panic at this and started to race from window to window, panting heavily, sides heaving, stopping only to get a drink of water.  The hours dragged on in darkness.  Ironically, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, but like so many others, we didn’t see it.  We knew by the air horns screaming in the blackness outside and the many fireworks that started exploding all over as the dark city rejoiced.  I joined in with a frenzy of barking of my own.

Finally, at 4:00 a.m. Human Standard Time, the lights suddenly blazed on.  Everyone was sleeping, but Mom leaped out of bed, with me hot on her heels, as she ran downstairs to check on the fish.  Their tanks had re-started, and they were OK.  Later that morning, Mom got a call from her friend Donna, who checked on her and told her that hundreds of thousands of people were still without power.  Jamie checked out the news and saw the widespread devastation the storm had caused.  We counted ourselves as fortunate.

We had been hit by a derecho with winds that reached over 58 miles per hour.  We had been inconvenienced, but the storm had not turned into a tornado over our house.  Our home was not damaged.  Our power was back on.  We had been frightened by Mother Nature, but we were the lucky ones.  We knew it, and we were grateful.

Love, Maggie


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