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The night the lights went out
What will we do?
The night the lights went out
I can see the stars tonight. Millions of twinkling lights tossed like glitter onto velvet. Normally in late August you don’t notice them dancing in the night time sky. This particular evening you can’t miss them. Earlier today an enormous tropical storm tortured our little State. It blew in sometime during the night and was relentless about leaving. The morning light gave sight to many a downed tree and streets littered with leaves and branches. Trash barrels and lawn furniture blew through yards before finding their new homes. Neighbors gathered in the streets to share tales of the damage that occurred while they slept. Throughout the late afternoon the sounds of chainsaws echoed through neighborhoods. Power lines and trees laid strewn across streets casting thousands into the dark. Radio news reporters spoke of the lengthy duration that it will take to restore power to everyone. It may be weeks before the power will return. What will we do?
Without the power families will be forced to stay close to each other. Meals will be prepared on open fire pits or gas grills while the children sit nearby whining about not being able to play their video games. Parents will cringe at the thought of not being able to check their e-mails or harvest their farms on farmville. Televisions in hundreds of thousands of homes will be unable to tune into episodes of Jersey shore or the political networks to see who’s to blame for this horrific storm.
The radio broadcast tells us the power will be out for at least a week. Most people are still home from work and the start of school for everyone will be delayed until the power is restored. Parents grumble loudly in grocery lines at the one store in town that has power. Most of them can’t wait for the start of school, now, no one knows when they will be free to spend the morning gossiping over coffee with their best friends. The children are also frustrated, they can’t wait to get back to the school yard drama. While other kids have welcomed the few extra days to finish their summer reading and book reports that they had waited till the last minute to complete.
Home appliances stand idle still, the mom’s should be relieved that they don’t have to cook hot meals, yet their job has become harder and prehistoric. Laundry now has to be lugged to a laundry mat, if you can find one with power, or soaked in the kitchen sink and hung on the line like the olden day’s. They serve dinner on paper plates consisting of simple tried and true recipes, peanut and jellie and tuna. They fuss over how to keep the food cold and the children clean. They drive around town frequently to search out stores with power in search of ice. On their quests they realize that while marveling at all the downed tree’s and destruction of property their gas needle has plummeted to a dangerous low. They frantically try to recall the last gas station they had passed with functioning pumps and quickly back track.
The dad’s are busy raking leaves and fallen debris. They quickly realize how unprepared they are. They search the draws of their tool box’s for the hammer that should have been there, only to realize they had lent it to a friend and was never returned. They gassed up their car's but forgot about the gas can they so desperately need to fill the chainsaw with. They discover the half dozen lawn and leaf bags they had purchased, won’t nearly be enough to remove the giant branches and leaves strewn about. They curse loudly at themselves for not buying gas powered tools instead of electric. They vow that when christmas roles around that they will definitely have to ask for a generator this year.
The natives are becoming restless. Windows are left open during the night to allow the cool breeze in, accompanied by it is the noisy sounds of neighbors generators, utility crews and sirens. The sirens pierce the night time stillness as they race through towns to accidents at lightless intersections. Spot lights and noise from heavy equipment echo through the walls of homes, stirring even the cat. Those still without power have become sleepless, hungry and have grown increasingly annoyed. The grocery lines are filled with grumbles and groans at the lack of supplies available. Everyone is in search of batteries, candles and ice. Stores have taken to hanging large signs on their doors alerting customers that they have no ice. Intersections where motorist had earlier been courteous to one another has now turned ugly. The police have now installed stop signs at some major intersections and have begun ticketing the cars who role through the once light regulated intersection. Utility trucks are dotted through major road ways working on downed lines and tree's, while numerous workers sit idle in parking lot's. Select Schools are still being utilized as shelters, rendering them unavailable to students. The start of school has been suspended yet another day. The children have discovered board games and have grown board. They long for the digital effects they are used to and the instant gratification they provide. They do not understand what patience is. I'm beginning to believe that neither do the older natives.