Thursday, June 22, 2006

East coast blackout, part 2

We did manage to finally get Syracuse and rest for one day.
The second day we were taken to a state park/beach. My friend's sister and her kids had taken us, and we were all sitting, talking just enjoying the afternoon, when the strangest thing happened.
Here in the Midwest, we are programmed to hear the beeping-warning beep beep sound, and know it is some form of a weather alert. I looked around and realized that all the beeps were coming from all the radios, scattered around the beach. Everyone lounging under an umbrella, or bbq'ing had a radio on. The beebing alert sound was followed by news reports and silence. I mean REAL silence. Quiet like I've never heard before. At this point, the entire park was dead quiet. Everyone was listening to the radio reports. Then a hundred cell phones went off. So very creepy. I grabbed my own cell phone and called back home. I find it strange that I was in the middle of history, and had to call back to the Midwest to get details. I learnt that there was a power outage, that kept growing, and they didn't know what had caused it,
My only thought was terrorists, and that I had just driven all night, to let my kids die. And die in a place they had never been before, and a place that I had no idea where anything was, or how to get to anywhere.

At this point, everyone just stood up, began to gather their belongings and start walking back to the parking lot. We noticed that water was puddling in places, but it didn't occur to me till later, that the reason was because the sump pumps weren't working, because there was no power.
About this time, a loud, rumbling was heard. I froze. What the hell was that? We weren't from those parts, and I had never heard that sound before. My friends sister informed me causally that was the sound of F16 fighter jets taking off from a nearby air force base, and heading to NYC probably. Which was only something like two hundred miles away. Just A few minutes by fighter jet though.. All the radio stations were saying the same thing, no power, possible terrorist attack. The coolest thing was, and still is, is that people in upper New York, kept calm. No fighting, no panicking, it was totally twilight zone moment for us.

We found out as we were sitting in the truck in the parking lot that five jets had gone to patrol the east coast while two would be on continuous circling around Syracuse. And they were.
As we found our way out and back towards home, all the traffic lights were out, four way stops became the norm, and people were all very calm.
It became apparent though, that not everywhere was without power. You could go 15 blocks with nothing, then on one street corner a 7/11 would have power. The huge Carousel mall had power, but the zoo did not. It was hit or miss.

We got back to their house, no electricity. We began helping to pull out what we needed to cook in the freezer so it wouldn't ruin if the power was out for any length of time. The grill would work, and their stove worked. So, that wasn't an issue. The kids gathered all the candles they could find, they set the table, before it got dark, and we just did what we could to make due.
About this time, someone had a bright idea to go and see if anything in the neighborhood store or gas station that had power so we could get some ice. I said I would go, and my two daughters went too. We left, began driving around, and promptly got lost. We three had never driven anywhere alone in this town. Smart idea.
We were wandering, and came upon a gas station, mini mart that was open with a generator. I was shocked that he wasn't gouging prices, nope, everything was either normal price, or on sale. What a saint. We picked up bags of ice, pop, and beer. Then tried to find our little red riding hood asses home.

About an hour later my friends son called and asked where we were.
"uh, I'm not sure. I see a Chinese take out place. Ohio, hookers" He laughed "OH you ARE on the wrong side of town." He someone talked us back to the "right" side of the city, and we were back home again. Dinner was on the table and everyone was sitting down, when my friend came home from work, her business was on that did have power so every senior citizen in the city came for dinner.
She said when she walked in, all she smelt was a combination of widely different smells from boysenberry, to pine, to strawberry to blueberry tart. All the different candles scents that were burning at once.

We sat talking when the ceiling fan started to twirl. We were browning back up. Yeah, the air was back on. We had power. It was almost too bad, there was something very relaxing about sitting, eating and talking with no background noise. Such simple things, things we don"t do enough.
Once we sat watching all the thousands of people walking across the bridge somewhere in New York, and all the finger pointing had begun, the maps began showing all the states without power, or partial power. New York, blamed Canada. Canada blamed Ohio, Ohio said screw all you people, we had nothing to do with this mess.
I felt eyes looking at me.
"Um, weren't you just in like, all those states the other night?" They asked looking at me, and back at the tv.
"Listen, I had nothing to do with it. My bet is on the unabomber drug dude. He looked like he had enough c4 in that back pack to do some major damage." I could tell they didn't believe me. Just trying to deflect the blame. Pretty much the same way as Canada was.

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