It’s eerily quiet here in East Haddam. Now. But that was not the case 12 hours ago. 12 hours ago, I was headed for my basement to hide.
For those folks who know me, they know I revel in a good storm. I am a storm junkie. I prep, I cook, I stock, I wait. An inner belly excitement comes over me as I line the counter with flashlights, candles, matches, and hurricane lamps. Hunkering down is a word I grew up with in Florida, as well as in sailing. Storms and the anticipatory prepping for them are in my blood. I can usually feel them coming too. Low pressure sits in my bones like forged iron. Unpleasant, but… well… real, I suppose. Something about a storm, and the getting through it, seems to stir DNA memories of survival. It strips away the din of fabricated day to day busyness and gets down to the bare tactics. Food. Water. Shelter. Warmth.
As I have watched this year unfold, exteme weather events have been the norm all over the planet. Raging fires, floods, tornados, hurricanes, typhoons, and droughts leaving millions without the bare necesseties and leaving them it seems for longer stretches of time. I watch in horror. I am grateful for every hot shower and meal I partake in but ever aware, those families could just as easily be my family. New Englanders are no strangers to weird weather. So, I keep prepared and I keep my eye on the skies, and check in with my bones. I don’t kid myself. In a real event, such as Puerto Rico is facing, my supply bin wouldn’t last long. But, we have to try, right? Right.
So what the hell was I doing yesterday when apparently a Bombogenesis wind event was on its way to New England? Nothing. Because I didn’t even know about it. Which is, like, unheard of. When I woke up on Sunday, it was raining but that was good. Rain means full wells and reservoirs. My kids were at their dad’s for the weekend, my husband was en route to work for his usual evening shift. This meant house to myself and lots of quiet time. A perfect day to cuddle up on the couch and binge watch the second season of Stranger Things on Netflix. I had left my phone charger down at my sisters house the night before and figured I would just get it on Monday. Just another reason to take a day off from the world. Around 6pm, my husband called the house phone and told me he thought I should get my cord, that the weather was turning, and if we lost power (which was likely where we live), it’d be my only way to reach him or anyone in case of emergency. During that brief conversation, and the one I had with my in laws fifteen minutes later picking up my cord, NOONE mentioned the high wind advisory of 65 75mph gusts that were expected. Noone mentioned Bombogenesis.
I went back home, got back on the couch and kept watching that damned show (which is fabulous by the way). When I finished the last episode, around 8:30pm, I called my husband to see how things were. The wind had picked up considerably in East Haddam, but still.. tolerable. He said it was pretty calm there in Middletown, but raining hard. We still had power but I could tell the wind was getting chattier, so I took a flashlight, a few candles and my hurricane lamp up to my bedroom with the plan to just go to bed early. At that time, I had quite a few lights on. Mind you, I was spooked from watching a creepy show all day. I also live in an ultra rural part of the state with 20 acres across from me and 2 behind me for company. There are no street lights and I can’t really see the neighbors houses. It’s creepy out here on a nice day.
I was just thinking about that, when I came back down to lock up and set the alarm. I came down with nothing in hand. As I reached for the handle and lock, the lights were gone and in one second, I was engulged by Pitch. Black. I had nothing to light my way. At the same time, I heard a roar around my house, that in all my years I have never heard the likes of. It was if a jumbo jet had decided to land in my backyard. I heard a thunderous cracking sound and then a thud that shook the windows.
Fear is an amazing thing. It causes a body to freeze in place while every sensory organ goes on high alert. I couldn’t see, but I could hear and with each minute, the wind grew more ferocious outside. I could now here branches and debris hitting the entire house and cracking in various locations around the yard. I finally got my feet moving, and headed up the stairs, to my bedroom on the right, and began hunting for the items I had left. This is hard to do when you are panicking in the dark. I knocked a lamp over, other things as well, but finally got my hands on the flashlight. I hadn’t closed my bedroom windows yet, and saw in the beam that water was soaking the sills. Christ, it was so loud! What the hell was going on out there????
With candles lit in my room, and windows shut, I listened as this wind event went from unsettling to panic inducing within 2o minutes. I considered several times taking my daughter’s twin mattress and heading into either the tub upstairs, or going to the basement to hide. My phone had not charged enough to be of use, so I was cut off. No idea what time it was. No idea what was happening outside. No idea how long it would last. I was also considered that in a few hours my husband would try to drive home in this, and though I wanted him home desperately, the storm raging around me told me it was unsafe to be anywhere on the roads. This meant, I was on my own until who knew what time. I played out every scenario any panicking middle aged woman alone in the woods with no power on would. What would I do if a tree crashed through roof? If I went to the basement…. should I go to the basement? The hurricane lamp had a smell of concern to me, so I opened the window and felt like I was being sucked out the screen. I realized how awesome my windows and doors are then. What sounded like hell on earth with them closed, became hell in my ears with them open. Around and around, panicked thoughts until I finally fell asleep. When I awoke, the storm had abated. The power was still off, and my husband was not home. I tried to turn on my phone and got it long enough to see it was 3:30am. He was due home at midnight. I texted and called, no answer. And the panic started all over again, sticking until I heard his keys in the door an hour later. It had taken him two hours to get home due to debris down, lines down, and closed roads, including our own.
I remember just wanting it to be daylight. I didn’t want to be in the dark anymore. I didn’t want to hear anymore wind. That wind was unlike anything I have ever heard and I have been through hurricanes in Florida, and earthwakes in California. Even Super Storm Sandy, five years ago to the date, didn’t sound like that. Of all the blizzards, ice storms, lightning storms I have been in… nothing had that intensity to it.
Angry. It felt, angry. And I have never been more scared.
When I assessed the damage this morning, my road looked like a tornado had come through. We lost a really old and beautiful oak on our back hill. There were projectlie limbs slammed into the earth all over our yard. The street is cut off by downed lines and trees. But, thankfully, no damage to the house and noone was hurt.
I was completely caught off gaurd by this one, and it was one of the worst I have been through. So much for the Storm Junkie who is always prepared. Note to self… in the event of power possible power outages, do not watch scary movies all day and if I do, invite friends over to hold my hand and stay the night. Last note to self, with the way things are going, keep the weather channel on at all times.