If you live in the southeastern Michigan area, you just survived Windocalypse (wind-OC-uh-lips)2017. I’ve lived through other extended power outages in my life. Some have been during the dead of winter and some during the heat of summer. But this was the first one that revealed a few insights. Or maybe this is just the first one in which I’ve had a blog and a reason to capture them.
Insight #1–I’m toast in the actual event of apocalyptic proportions. I had no kind of backup food, water, power. Dinner on Wednesday was literally Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles and Triscuits. I could only find two flashlights, even though I’m sure I own 15. The two I found had corroded batteries inside. But that didn’t even matter, because even if the insides hadn’t been corroded, I didn’t have any D batteries, because who needs D batteries? My child has grown into the AA and AAA toy stage. C and D batteries were SO 3 years ago.
So, no food. No flashlights. No batteries. I was a survivalist disgrace. Now I understand why people have bunkers with crank radios and shelves of non-perishable food.
Insight #2–Unpreparedness does not equal a death wish. Even though I wasn’t prepared in any way immediately, I was able to round up my resources after a while. Luckily, I had wisely procrastinated putting away the White Barn candles that I’d received as Christmas gifts. Lucky me, they were right there on the kitchen table. Procrastination 1, Immediate Putting-Awaying 0.
Even though I couldn’t find a working flashlight, I remembered that I had a camping lantern in the garage.
The garage that had an electric door.
The garage that had an electric door BUT also a side door.
The garage that had an electric door but a side door that had two recliners, a dresser, and a gas grill pushed against it on the inside.
But I wasn’t going to allow the mountainous obstacle to stop me from that lantern. Because dammit, that lantern was the only thing I could use to prove I could be prepared for a night without power. Candles were okay; the camping lantern was excellent.
Inch by inch I was able to push that stuff enough to squeeze inside. And low and behold, the lantern worked. Victory was mine. Maybe I could survive if Canada ever attacked or a zombie virus infection plagued Downriver.
Insight #3–Ask for help and then accept the help. I wasn’t shy about putting out there that I was not in the mood to suffer in silence and watch my thermostat dip to miserable levels. I was touched that an offer of help came on the morning of Day 2. The offers continued throughout the 54 hours my home was electricless. I also wasn’t shy about accepting help. Thank you to my fabulous friends who gave us a resting spot, a meal, a beer, a shower, or a distraction. I may not have been prepared with materials, but I was prepared by relationships. And 7 seasons of The Walking Dead have taught me, you want to align yourself with people who will take you along with them and share their resources. Just watch out for men who have a wall of aquariums or carry baseball bats named Lucille.
Insight #4–Know your surrounding areas. Rick Grimes and Company had Alexandria; I had Wyandotte. (Sorry for the second Walking Dead reference.) If you know your surrounding area, you can take advantage of the creature comforts that are available. For me, those were easily obtained in Wyandotte. As daylight was dwindling on Day 1, and I realized that Ruffles and Triscuits weren’t going to cut it as a substantial meal, and the desperate phone calls to nearby restaurants only revealed that they, too, were without power, I turned my attention to finding a location that was unharmed by the hurricane force winds. And then I remembered that Wyandotte had its own electric company. DTE might be suffering the worst weather-related outage in its history, but Wyandotte might be okay.
So in true adventure style, the boy and I found ourselves navigating side streets to avoid the voluminous 4-way stop intersections from dark Southgate into the well-lit, traffic-light-abundant mecca of Wyandotte. Wyandotte establishments were our source for dinner Wednesday night and breakfast Thursday morning. A Wyandotte mom-and-pop hardware store had an impressive assortment of flashlights. By the way, flashlights have come a long way since my last purchase. RIP Maglite. Your corroded, 3 D battery requiring, super heavy ass was replaced by an ultra light, 2 AA battery requiring, room-illuminating, sleek upgrade, that also has a magnetic base. A magnetic base. Do you know what that means? It is now stuck to the side of my bed frame so if the power goes out in the middle of the night, I won’t need to fumble through a drawer or search in a closet. It’s made by Nebo and the model name is Big Larry, which I find hysterically funny. Thank you, Hood’s Do-It Best Hardware for featuring the modern advancements in the flashlight industry.
Finally, Wyandotte also offered a way to pass the time. After our bellies were full and our flashlight mission complete, we still had a few hours to occupy so we mosied into Pottery Creations. Tommy and I had the studio to ourselves as we painted glaze onto our ceramic choices, an ice cream cone for Tommy and a decorative plate for me. We talked and sang along to the radio that the owner had turned on and painted with abandon.
Ultimately, though, Wyandotte didn’t just offer a way to get supplies, find nourishment, and pass the time. It also offered a way to empty my bank account. Just like on the Walking Dead (sorry!) whenever a community with comfort was discovered, it always came with a cost for Rick’s group. I had to get out of Wyandotte before the cost was greater than the need.
Insight #5–Technology is still my friend. One of the hardest things about the power outage is that I didn’t have access to the technology that is ingrained into the fabric of my daily life. Well, that and not having heat. Losing heat was awful too. But losing technology hurt worse than heat. (I realize that as I write this, I didn’t really suffer in the cold either. I’m confident that after a longer amount of time, losing heat would have trumped losing technology.) Some might use Windocalypse as a vehicle to disengage and become less dependent. Not me. I was on my phone even more. I downloaded the DTE app and checked the outage updates endlessly. I read and reread Facebook posts and joined a group that proved to be the best source for updates. Sorry DTE app, you couldn’t keep up with the quick pace of the frustrated members of the Southgate Neighborhood Watch Facebook group. I knew within seconds that my power had been restored. Your app notified me 7 hours after. Zuckerberg 1, DTE app 0.
Insight #6–Laura Ingalls Wilder can keep her pioneer style. Between the ages of 9 and 12, my favorite TV show and book series was Little House on the Prairie. If time machines were real, I would have jumped in one and traveled back to 1870’s and lived the pioneer life. Part of the fascination for me was the way of life. I don’t know why, but I thought it was amazing that they had to do everything for themselves to survive. If they wanted butter, they had to churn it. If they wanted a dress, they had to sew one. Vegetables? They’d better grow some. Chicken for supper? Corner a pullet. Thirsty? Go to the well. I also loved how the Ingalls family endured the hardships they faced, but the real fascination came from what they had to do day-to-day just to have the necessities of life. It seemed romantic to a tweenage girl living during the Gag Me With a Spoon era.
This girl has grown up. The romance is over. Little House will always be a treasure from my youth. Now, I still admire the work the pioneers had to do. But I do not wish I could be a part of it. I’ll stick with my modern comforts. I’m fortunate I live where they are so easily available.
Insight #7–Windocalypse was an opportunity for thankfulness. Hopefully, if you live near me, you were able to weather Windocalypse and you didn’t lose too much patience or too much from your freezer. Perhaps you were able to gather a few insights. Perhaps there was an opportunity to see or appreciate something that you’ve always taken for granted (stoplights). Perhaps the next time you see on the news that somewhere there are thousands of people without power, there is a little more compassion felt, and a silent prayer is whispered. I know that’s how I will feel.
I might have more to say…but The Walking Dead is on soon.