If you’re a regular reader (thank you!), you may have noticed that, aside from one mid-week post, I pretty much vanished off the face of the planet for 8 days. Well, except on Twitter, where I was arguing with my electric company a lot! Trust me, they deserved it! So, where was I? Basically, trying to survive, stay warm, and keep my family and pets from freezing to death in a house with a rapidly dropping temperature.

As everyone on the East Coast (and most of you with a TV set) knows, we got hammered with a “bomb cyclone” last Friday, March 2nd. I don’t know if that’s a real thing or just a clickbait term for “really freaking bad snowstorm.” It started out pretty calm in the morning. In fact, I thought for sure we would be missed when this was all we had by mid-morning:

Winter storm Riley in the Poconos: Early in the storm

Early afternoon, things were starting to get pretty intense, but still, we had power and it wasn’t must worse than most storms in our area:

Winter storm Riley in the Poconos:: Mid-Day during the storm

By around 3PM, my back deck looked like this:

Now, I know what you’re thinking: it’s just a bit of snow. Big deal! We’ve had more snow dropped on us than that in 24 hours in the past. Well, the snow wasn’t the problem. The wind was what did us in. I’m talking 75 MPH gusts and like 40+ MPH sustained winds. Have you ever seen a forest of giant oak trees sway as though they were little more than blades of grass on a breezy day? I have, and let me tell you, it’s freaky! The fact that the ground was wet from a week’s worth of rain didn’t help. Every time I went outside, I heard another huge “THUD” as a giant oak came tumbling down.

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The lights started blinking on and off around 11AM. I had just finished up the most important work for the day, so I shut down my PC and figured I could relax a bit. At around 3:30, it went off and didn’t come back on. I figured we’d be in the dark for a day or two max. I mean, this is the 21st century, right? We knew about this storm in advance, surely my electric company (Met-Ed) had learned their lesson from Sandy! Surely they had a good plan in place to get lights back! Then I saw this:

That’s not quite by my road, but close enough. March 7th?!? Five days?!? I didn’t cry. Nope, I figured that was an “on the safe side” estimate. They would definitely have everyone back up and running before then! HA! Eight days later I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and STILL waiting for any sign that MetEd was going to get to us soon. Finally, finally, finally, they came! I should consider myself lucky, I guess. Even though 90% of the area got power back before me, I got it back before about 2,000 people. As of today, about 700 people are still waiting.

This is what took out our power. Well, one of the things. We also had this:

My son took that one, so while it is at a very slight angle, that pole was leaning so far over that I could literally reach out of my car window and touch the wires (I didn’t). That big tree, FYI, is the ONLY way in and out of my development. It was left like that for about 6 days. I held my breath every time I drove under it because I was afraid it would come crashing the rest of the way down, or that I’d crash into someone coming around the blind corner. It took them two days to slap the little cones around it.

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The thing is, that tree was probably one of the least scary in my town! On the day after the storm, I trekked out to get some wood for the wood stove and try to find hot food. When I tell you it was like a war zone, I’m not exaggerating.  I turned left out of my development because I couldn’t turn right due to traffic. Weird, right? You’d think it would be the other way around. The fact that I could turn left should have been a clue. About half a mile up the road, cars were taking turns navigating around a tree that had fallen across both lanes, leaving about half a lane and the shoulder to drive on.

The grocery store that I went to was running on a generator. No wood, but I did manage to grab a box of Duraflame (the first of many boxes). No hot food, but I grabbed some bread and extra peanut butter. And donuts. We lived on donuts for days. I tried to find hot food, but my entire town was out. Most places didn’t have power, and those that did had to close because they simply ran out of food. I made soup on the wood stove using a camping pot that I had gotten in an emergency kit that I reviewed a couple of years ago with Live Prepared. That baby got a lot of use last week!

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This was pretty much my life for a week. I took down all the family pictures and decor from my mantle and loaded it up with flashlights and lanterns! We managed to get a generator on day 4 to keep the fridge going and my phone charged. We didn’t have internet though, and I didn’t want to use all the data hot-spotting my phone. Instead, I used it to obsessively check the outages map for MetEd, and joked about their lack of management with other frustrated customers on Twitter. We have two power companies in my area: PPL and MetEd. By day 5, PPL only had about 200 people out still. MetEd had about 7,000 by comparison. That’s a whole different rant, though, and I’ll spare you.

The only good thing that came out of those 8 days? I learned that my kid can absolutely handle pressure better than I can. He looked on the bright side, stayed positive, and even helped me stay calm when we were driving through the war zone. He was extraordinary. I already knew that, but it was nice to be reminded.

So, here I am, a week later. I’m back! It’ll take me a while to catch up on a week’s worth of emails and work, but I’m getting there. It’ll also take me a while to recover from the sheer amount of money I spent on wood, gas, and water, but again, I’m getting there. The lights are on, the toilet flushes, and I’m no longer freezing to death. What more could you ask for?

So, how was your week?