Last Thursday evening, the rain beat relentlessly down on my windshield as I drove home. The wipers, even at high speed, swiped ineffectively at the water that pelted down onto on the glass. My hands gripped the wheel tightly and I peered forward, trying to see. The pavement was dark and slick and the red tail lights of the cars ahead of me were blurry in the falling rain. I finally arrived home feeling stressed but happy to have gotten there safely.
Later, the rain stopped but the wind kicked in. It howled, rattling windows and whistling through the night. In the early morning hours, the storm clouds scurried across the sky as if the devil himself was in hot pursuit. Large trees, with trunks I couldn’t even wrap my arms around were felled. And then the lights went out and the house went cold.
I went to work for the day and when I came home Ben had made the season’s first fire in our stone fireplace to heat the house. We listened to the news on a battery-operated radio and knew we were in for the long haul: Close to one million people were without power across the province. Not since the infamous ice storm of 1998 had things been this bad.
It was Friday night, and we sat by the fire, ate cold pizza, drank wine and I read by the light of a headlamp I use for cross country skiing until I fell asleep. It was a different way to spend an evening and surprisingly pleasant! The next morning, Ben went out to get coffee and breakfast while I tended the fire. The outage was patchy, so while many homes and surrounding businesses had power, pockets of the area did not. When he returned, we sipped our coffee and hoped that things would be back to normal soon.
By mid-afternoon, the news was still not encouraging. The repair crews were hard at work, but there was a lot to do and we were told it could be at least another day before we had power again. Besides the radio, I stayed connected to the outside world through social media on my cell phone. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the power failure brought out the power of the community.
On Facebook, people in a neighbourhood group that I belong to who had power, opened up their homes to those who didn’t. Anyone who needed to warm up, have a coffee, even charge their cell phones were welcome.
I posted my own status, explaining that the power was out but we were managing just fine. My own friends responded with personal messages, posts and phone calls urging us to come any time for a bowl of soup, a hot shower, whatever we needed. The rest of me might have been chilly but the offers sure warmed my heart!
The power finally came back the next day, by which time the novelty of “camping indoors” had worn off. It was annoying and inconvenient, but in no way compared to people who live with the devastation of hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis. We are privileged and we know it, but I was still happy to finally update my status with this post: