Saturday, December 16, 2006

Seattle Windstorm 2006!

We got power back – yippee! This happened about 7 PM Friday night. We were right in the middle of watching the children's video Charlotte's Web on the laptop (Eric had patched together enough power via spare laptop batteries and a UPS). And boom - the lights went on! Thrilling. Overall the length of the power outage for us wasn't that bad. It started sometime early Friday morning (but definitely by 2 AM), and lasted, like I said, till about 7 PM.

I had previously kind of romanticized the electricity being down. I sometimes get so tired of one of us always being on the computer, surfing the web, doing email, or watching TV. But honestly, not having power is bleak. It was dark by 5 PM, and darn cold (we got down to 54 degrees inside the house, eventually).

The windstorm itself early Friday morning was pretty exciting. Both Eric and I were up during the worst of it, listening to our wind-up radio (the power was already out). The wind was pressing against our large windows, and there were scary creaky noises, like the house was going to be blown down. We listened to AM 1000 (kiro?) because they gave lots of weather and traffic updates. Their phone lines were apparently jam packed with people kept awake by the storm, giving updates from various neighborhoods. We have a good view of the whole Seattle area from our house, and except for downtown Seattle and downtown Bellevue, everything was dark.

We eventually did get to sleep...maybe around 4 or 5 AM. I woke up at 8, and went into Kenny's room. He said excitedly, "Look Mommy, there's a towel in my crib!". Eric had gone in last night, when the heat went out, and put a large fluffy towel on him to keep him warmer.

In the morning I did some crafts with Kenny. Eric checked out the house – a large chunk of the back fence was torn town, and a small metal piece from our awning was blown away. But that’s all the damage we had. A friend in the neighborhood came by with a horror story – their skylight had blown out twice overnight, and her husband went up on the roof each time and nailed it back in again.

Then Eric was bored, so we went to Bellevue Square – thinking that since it looked like the power stayed on in downtown Bellevue overnight, we could go there, hang out at the kiddie play area, do some shopping, go to a restaurant, etc. But what do you know – although the mall was open, the power was out, all the stores were shut (except Nordstoms), and it was just lit by skylights. No restaurants were open at the mall. We eventually walked across the street to the Galleria area (also nothing open there!) and finally to the Barnes and Nobles area. There was a grill type restaurant there which was open, but apparently there was a 2 hour wait, so we decided to drop the whole idea and head home. Traffic was pretty bad because of all the unpowered traffic lights, but we managed to get home fairly quickly by going on less traveled roads. We just had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at home.

Since we don’t have a gas stove I recently bought us a gas cooker and an attachment that fits it to the large propane tank for our grill. Thank goodness we had this, because we were able to cook a hot dinner (boxed macaroni and cheese, with diced tomatoes thrown in). I’m glad we had the lanterns that we did, but still, cooking with limited light and no hot water is tricky. It’s definitely not the time to be cooking anything fancy.

We were all bundled up by this time – Kenny in two pairs of pants, and his fleece jacket, and Eric and I also in multiple layers, including hats. Cold wasn’t really an issue, with us being bundled up like that, but it’s definitely less comfortable with so many layers.

Here’s the things I’m glad we had:
Wind up radio from LLBean. This was fun and sturdy, and let us listen to the news. Kenny really enjoyed winding it up, too.
LED lantern from LLBean. Small and handy, and with hooks for hanging it wherever necessary. Also, it doesn’t use very much power, since it’s LED – I think it’s supposed to run for something like 100 hours on one set of batteries.
Gas burner to cook on
Plenty of extra clothes
Rubber gloves for doing the dishes. Doing dishes by hand in cold water is cold! It’s cold even with rubber gloves on, but of course it would be much worse without them.

Things I would have liked to have:
A phone that didn’t require power. Our regular phone requires power, as do most phones nowadays, and our cell phones were very flakey
The yellow pages! We count on the internet to look up phone numbers, but of course that was not possible.
A rubber drainer to fit over the sink. I’m so used to just letting food waste go down the disposal that I really need something like this for when there’s no power, because otherwise the sink gets all clogged with food scraps. Yech.

We’re going to call some friends today, now that we have power, and check up on them, and see if they’d like to come over. I think much of the area is still without power, and right now the temperature outside is 30 degrees.

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