There was a small "pop" as he power went out, and the television, lights and the AC collectively shut down, and we were left in complete darkness and utter silence. It sounds absurd, but I didn't realize just how dark it would be if we actually lost power. In the comforts of home, there's always something to light your way, be it the glow from the TV, a bedside lamp or even the light shining in the windows from the streetlights outside. It was a little unnerving, to say the least.
Before I could even begin feeling my way around for the flashlight, the lights came back up and my husband and I looked at each other across the room. "Maybe we should ..." "Yea, let's ..." With one accord, we grabbed the meager light sources included in our hurricane preparation pile--a neon orange flashlight and a scented candle--and trooped down to the basement level garage, in search of better supplies. After unstacking piles of boxes and storage bins we had mounded on top of waterproof containers in case of flooding, we hit the motherload: the camping equipment.
Now, armed with a high-powered lantern, a commercial carpenter-grade flashlight, and enough matches and candles to open our own specialty shop, we settled back down in front of The Weather Channel. Just in time to see our town appear in the growing list included in the tornado watch. The rest of the night passed slowly, as we made the rounds between hunkering in the basement during tornado warnings, checking the garage for flooding, making sure the tree in the backyard was still standing, and trying to get the dog to go out whenever the wind and rain died down for a couple minutes.
Sunday morning, when I looked outside at the few puddles and many sticks in our yard, I couldn't help but think--this is it? We were lucky--Irene passed us by, stealing only a couple hours of sleep. You don't have to look far, however, to see how much worse it could have been--and was, for others. CNN reports 38 people lost their lives as a result of the storm. Many more lost their homes, and thousands are still without power, days later.
After a summer that brought devastating earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires; and with the 10th anniversary of 9/11 quickly approaching, the two features written by veteran laboratorians Scott Warner, MLT(ASCP) (When Disaster Strikes); and Eleanor Wolfram, MS, (Hope for the Best; Plan for the Worst) this week couldn't be more timely. Check them out, and see if your facility's disaster planning is up to par.
We are grateful to have survived Hurricane Irene unscathed, and our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones, or their homes or businesses to the storm. How did you weather the storm? Share your comments below.