Just before the storm started, the power went off. Since it was not yet raining, we thought the outage would be brief. How wrong we were!
A community development student, Sheba, had come over Friday late afternoon to bake a cake. We had combined the dry ingredients in one bowl and were about to blend the liquid ingredients and stir the two together when the lights went out. "Well, at least it wasn't in the oven," I remarked. We sat down to wait and see if the power would be restored shortly.
When the storm hit, it was as fierce as any Arizona monsoon, and more. Crackling lightening, booming thunder, sheets of rain, all punctuated by blasts of wind that bent the trees toward the earth. Watching it, we were awed by the magnificence and the power of nature. Next door, Jenny said that Frankie the cat's fur stood on end and his eyes were wild. She held him to calm his pounding heart, but when she got up to get something, he bolted and ran under the bed, from which he has not yet emerged.
Darkness fell as the storm went on and on. It seemed as strong as time went by as when it had begun. We heard explosive cracking sounds that I later recognized as branches--and indeed entire trees--being blown down. Drumming rain on corrugated roofs makes conversation difficult, so we mostly watched. The displays of lightening were magnificent. Sheba asked for a blanket and wrapped herself in it. I lit candles, cleaned up the kitchen, covered the cake-making bowls, and waited.
The storm settled into hard rain, with no sign of letting up. Sheba decided to return to her dorm, equipped with my rain boots, umbrella, and flashlight. We agreed that when the power was restored, probably by early morning, I would put the cake together and bake it so she could take it to the event she was attending on Saturday. I read for a bit and headed for bed.
Saturday morning, there was still no power. When I glanced outside, there were broken branches everywhere Then I stepped out the door and saw the tree that had crashed next to my house, part of it touching my roof but fortunately not damaging it. We go to the market Saturday mornings, so we all piled into Jenny's truck and discovered that it was going to be hard to get into town. MEF workers had cleared the tree that fell and blocked our campus road, but when we turned onto the public road we saw that a fallen tree blocked the access to the main highway. So we went by a circuitous back route known to Jenny, observing broken roofs, trees, and debris all along the way. But there was power in town, so we had hope that our power had been restored.
After shopping, we returned to find the electricity still off. I used my computer until it ran out of battery. Couldn't charge my phone, so it was quiet. My radio runs on solar batteries, so BBC kept me informed and entertained. I began to fear for the food in my refrigerator and its freezer compartment. Lunch was a peanut butter sandwich, dinner a tuna salad. Jenny had a friend in town who offered to put our perishables in her refrigerator and freezer. Hungry students joined my usual kids in asking for PB&J sandwiches and water. Fortunately, I had just purchased my week's supply of sandwich ingredients and had lots of boiled water on hand. When the power is off, we lose water, too. The MEF pump stops working.
The student dining hall prepared dinner over charcoal as we continued without power. We saw the electric company trucks working, but apparently there were several lines down and transformers hit by lightening. Sunday we got up and found still no power. Walking to church I saw how most of the fallen trees had been cut into chunks appropriate for the bonfires people build at the funeral house after a death.
Well, power was restored after 47 hours. People who experience tornados or hurricanes are doubtless used to such extended outages and worse, but it was an unusual experience for me. The storm was dramatic, the destruction saddening, and the inconvenience a reminder of how dependent we are on technology.
We put the cake together and baked it this evening. It was delicious!