Tuesday, February 9, 2010

When Snowpocalypse Meets Snoverkill

These past few days have given me a glimpse into survival, into human nature, into the fragility of life and my own pathetic nature. Mostly I am impressed by what I see around me, but I am sorely disappointed in "government."

Friday night we started the Snowpocalpyse - my neighborhood got between 25 and 30 inches of snow. I live in a VERY old neighborhood with lots of old, tall trees and pine trees, which hold the snow until they can't and they fall over and break stuff - powerlines, houses, cars, people. It's rather scary. We lost a lot of powerlines. Saturday 4am we lost power.

Saturday we lived in the family room with the door closed and the fire going. We brought in loads of wood and keep trudging out to the woodpile to dig under the tarp for more wood. Dragging it back across a 1/2 acre in 2.5 feet of snow got challenging. [why yes I asked Son before it all started to get wood. But he didn't think of the magnitude of the snow, so he left too much of it on the pile]. I cooked eggs over the fire, made hot chocolate, reheated old dinners. We were surviving. We played card games, shoveled snow. Shovelled again. Shovelled again.

Saturday night I would sleep for about an hour then restack the wood on the fire. The temperature in the house dropped to the 40's but the family room was livable. And we had dogs and blankets.

By Sunday morning we were out of wood, out of patience. [note to self - you are a wimp. How did people survive Katrina? Haiti? I would not have made it] We were lucky to have hot water so we braced for a quick shower- nothing like stepping out of a hot shower into 40 degrees. Brrrr.

We packed up all the stuff we had bought for the big game, and a friend came in his ginormous construction truck and took us to his house. His small, adorable house packed to the gills with other "refugees." I cooked all day Sunday and fed the masses for THE BEST SUPERBOWL EVER. Who Dat and all dat.

Sunday I took my one Dog Queen Bee to another friend's and slept. Truly slept. Wow.

Monday, no power. I realized the one change of clothes wasn't going to get me through, so I spent Monday feeding the masses at Refugee central, then decided to hike back to my house for a change of clothes. Daughter had hiked off to another friend's house about 2 miles away with the other 2 dogs. Son was out working, snowplowing driveways and helping the elderly. Meanwhile neighbors were out canvassing, knocking on doors, getting out the older folks. They put one woman on a sled and dragged her a couple miles while other men carried her wheelchair so that they could get her to a safe place.

Wait - sleds, hiking miles? Where do I live? Out in the midwest? HELL NO I LIVE 10 MILES FROM DC. So why all the pioneering? Because they don't plow my neighborhood. Ever. If I could just get to the top of my street, I would be home free. Just 0.7 mile is freedom. but from here to there is hell. And I'm lucky - some of my neighbors just around the corner are barricaded behind trees and downed powerlines. With the new snow due tonight, they may not get power for another week. Fortunately as I returned to my house Monday night, I realized the furnace was running! POWER! It took 6 hours to get up to the 60's inside.

Pathetic. Totally and wholly pathetic.

We've had PEPCO power trucks in our neighborhood - they look down those side streets and say,"Gee, we'd restore power if we could get down there but we can't. See you later."

And the plows have entered our neighborhood- they do ONE street. One. And leave. We stop them and beg them to turn down another side street. For some reason they tell us they can't.

My neighbor took matters into his own hands Saturday morning and had a "friend" come plow him out. But just beyond his house, he left a 7 foot pile of snow, which is now ice. Our "through" street is no longer "through." We've had four 911 calls that had to turn around because of the pile. I finally called neighbor today and said, "The masses are ready to lynch you. Call in some favors and get that pile out of here. We are too busy digging our selves and our elderly neighbors out to deal with the pile of Ice you created."

We do not understand why we are abandoned. There are computer maps of our county that show that the richer neighborhoods have been plowed. But we, again, are ignored. At the very least, the county plows need to go out with the PEPCO trucks and plow out the streets with no power so that people can be restored.

No power isn't about comfort. It's about survival. Houses are 36 degrees. Pipes are in danger of bursting (some have already burst I hear). Older people cannot maneuver in the snow and are afraid to leave, but if they stay, they will die. I am so afraid of what we are going to hear after the storm is over. We are banding together to canvas the neighborhood, but I am afraid we have missed someone.

This is not a third world country. This is not the rural outback. This is the suburbs of Washington DC, and this is pathetic.


J.G. said...

Lots of us went weeks without power after the hurricanes of 2004, but mostly that's just being sweaty instead of perfectly cooled by AC. (I was lucky; it was only 2 days off the grid for me.) If you're not ill or elderly, it's doable, and people help each other out. But your story is just plain scary. Cold is something else altogether.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Wow. I hope they get their act together soon.

hulagirlatheart said...

Oh, reading this brought back memories of last year's ice storm. We didn't have to deal with feet of snow, just layers and layers of ice. We were out of power for eighteen days, and it was awful. So exhausting.

Folks found a way to survive, and we were lucky in that no elderly folks died here, although we were terrified they would. Being without heat is life threatening. I can tell you from experience that once that mess is over, the finger pointing and public performance reviews will begin. There will likely be several local investigative newspaper stories about the things that went wrong, and then some things will likely change. The Good Old Boy system? Probably not.

phd in yogurtry said...

Amazing that so far north they don't have enough snow plows. I can understand that central Texas isn't prepared but you would think the DC are would be better prepared.

One reading your plight, one does have to wonder how the pioneers did it. All that cold on the vast praires.

dkuroiwa said...

the whole time i was reading this, i was remembering hulagirl and all she and her family went through last year!!
it's hard to believe that your part of the country is like that....i remember atlanta way back in the early 80's and their lack of preparedness...but washington dc?? unbelievable.
but...it sounds like you are with a good group of people...all taking care of each other. hang close...stay warm...
The boys and i were just looking at pictures on yahoo from DC...amazing!!

Oh...fyi...my class yesterday came in talking about the storm and was wondering about 'snowmaggedon'....'is that a real word?" :-) i laughed!!