Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The calm BEHIND the storm...
Or, things coulda been worse, much worse...

I'm down here on the south coast of Oregon, about 120 miles north of California...and down here in these parts, well, you bet we had wind...and it actually got kinda scary. But, it could have been worse...there are folks on the coast north of me that won't have their power switched back on for DAYS yet... in comparison, my power was restored in a mere 12 hours (if you can call 12 hours 'mere'...) I heard the guy on the radio say a couple of days ago, "storm coming, you'd better go out and get provisions, flashlights, batteries and anything else you might need in a storm", so I went out and got TWO flashlights. And, I only misplaced one of them when I got home...I misplace a lot of things here. So, I had one flashlight, and two battery-powered radios to help me work through my weather-imposed 12-hour Dark Period. The weathermaps seemed to indicate that the brunt of the storm smacked into the central and northern Oregon coastline, as well as all of Washington's coast. Still, the winds down here were very, VERY strong...and, the folks at Pacific Power and Light deserve my heartfelt thanks; working hard thru the night, trying to get the power back on.

The storm really began making itself known early Tuesday afternoon. After a trip to the Post Office, I went to a restaurant, and got back home about 4:30pm. The winds were already whipping themselves into a frenzy; as I drove home I could feel the wind blowing against my car, which isn't exactly the most secure feeling ever....and when I arrived, the first thing I noticed: No Light When I Flipped On The Light Switch. Lately, the sun has been setting around 6pm, and it was already a dark day, what with ominous gray clouds everywhere. And as such, daytime "morphed" into night, and it got dark. I don't mean "just" dark. REALLY dark, as in, there's-no-lights-on-in-the-entire-neighborhood type of dark. And that's the way it stayed. I went into my TV room, where, of course, I couldn't watch TV...and the clock on the wall, an old electric analog model (it's gotta be 30 years old), was frozen at 2:33, which told me the lights had gone out a good two hours before I got home. Before total darkness set in, I closed the blinds so the parakeets wouldn't get scared again. Something blew past the house Monday night and scared them, and they flapped their wings madly in a sort of Parakeet Freak-Out before crashing to the cage floor. They slept better Tuesday night, so I guess I did good.

The location I'm in is not a low-lying river valley, it's actually quite rocky, and as such, wasn't vulnerable to flooding, even in this Really Severe Storm. I consider myself fortunate, seeing as how I live a mile and a half from the ocean, and I am thankful. I'm still getting used to the Oregon Coast; life can be sometimes very different down here. There are lots of trees around me, though, and as I sat in my dark TV room, listening to my little battery-powered transistor radio, I actually heard a couple of 'em snap in the distance. "CRACK! POP!" It was THAT sudden. And loud. Shiverr......tremble.....I was feeling kinda vulnerable, and there was nothing I could do except to wait the storm out, in darkness, without any conveniences. So there I was...listening to pine cones falling on my roof as the wind whooshed through the neighborhood, making all kinds of eerie sounds in the pitch-black darkness...once in a while, I'd switch the flashlight "on" just so I could see SOMETHING, anything...and then I'd turn it off again and continue to listen to the radio (and howling winds) in TOTAL darkness.

I contented myself with two main thoughts; first of all, the sound of branches scraping on the sides of my house meant that the trees which the branches were attached to hadn't FALLEN yet, and, secondly, for whatever reason, there aren't many trees to the west (seaward) side of me. The wind was blowing east, so I figured if a tree fell, it would fall on someone ELSE'S house. Not nice, I know. And, another thought that occurred to me was, that since I have homeowner's insurance, Nothing Would Happen To Me. After all, the one time I've had a car wreck was when I only had LIABILITY coverage. As proof, I've had full coverage on my present automobile since 2002, and have had no accidents since them. So I figured, with full Homeowners' insurance, a falling tree wouldn't mercilessly smash my house into bits. As you've probably already figured out by now, I'm pretty good at rationalizing things. Procrastination and rationalization; I do those things pretty doggone well.

In the storm's aftermath, I went walking on the beach today; the sea is still angry; huge waves were crashing against the cliffs, sending spray 50 feet into the air. The wind was still blowing, although with not nearly the velocity of Tuesday nite/Wednesday morning's 80-plus-mph gusts. The power of the ocean this time of year is amazing. I was standing on the beach, watching the waves crashing and smashing into the jetty, before hurling walls of water headlong into the cliffs and the bay beyond. Truly a sight to behold; so powerful, so ominous, so much energy, and I was right there watching it happen. I even climbed onto the jetty rocks, but the view from up there was intimidating...massive waves heading towards me, and I immediately climbed down and watched from a safer distance. While sitting on the jetty last spring, I got NAILED by a wave that crashed onto the rocks; it felt like the Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive line had pounded me into the ground. You gotta respect that ocean.

So, that's my tale. I felt like something of a pioneer in a way, having to get back to basics. Well, not exactly "basics"...I whiled away a couple of hours in the darkness early Wednesday morning playing Computer Pinball on my battery-powered I guess I'm not much of a "pioneer", either. I shut down the computer before I exhausted the battery, so I went to bed, listening to the battery-powered radio as I read by flashlight. I was almost done with my reading, ready to turn out the light, and The Power Came Back On, almost 12 hours after a tree (or trees) fell somewhere, electronically cutting hundreds of people in my neighborhood off from Society As We Know It. We may not have the snow, or bursting pipes, or ice that a lot of folks have in winter...but here on the coast, well, there's the weather...and that angry ol' ocean out there. She'll turn on ya if you give her half a chance.

Next time I go to the store, I think I'll get some CANDLES. Those definitely would've come in handy the other night. And maybe a battery-operated TV...maybe a battery-operated reading lamp...right now, I'm counting my blessings and my thoughts are with those whose homes were destroyed by this storm. It was a MEAN one!


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