Friday, September 2, 2011

A tad overwhelmed here, sorry

Yeah, I haven't posted in a long time, sorry. The truth is I've been fading away from the blog as I contemplate some life changes. However the point of this post is to communicate, in a succinct manner what is going on here in the aftermath of the recent hurricane.
 We went on duty at 1900 on Saturday 8/27. Nothing much happened until our first call for service at 0200 on 8/28, which was followed by several calls for trees on wires. All little stuff. at around 0430 it began to get interesting and I took a crew and an Engine out for a survey. We drove for an hour creeping along at 15 MPH clearing the rotted dead trees from the roadways to keep them open. The last dead-rot we cleared was on my side of the truck and I got out to kick it apart and throw it into the culverts on the side of the road that had water moving at about 15 knots. In the middle of this I heard a CRACK, then a SNAP, then a bunch of TWANGS and instinctively hunkered down. When I looked up, a healthy 75 footer had come down and snapped the top off a power pole and brought all the wires down around me. I climbed back into the drivers seat to see my two crew mates all pie-eyed. I suggested it was now time to head back to the station. They didn't say a word, just nodded in unison. The return trip was not without event, but lets just say that the next 8 hours were 'challenging' and we did well.
 In short, we had dozens of homes invaded by trees, hundreds of power lines down, many dozens of roads closed, and when things calmed down, I am guessing we did over 200 cellar pumps.
 I am writing this on Friday evening as we have just gotten power back at my home after 6 plus days. I spent the first two days of the storm on duty, then took a day for my Father-in-laws funeral (by flashlight and candle light), which was planned before the storm hit. Only 11 of us could make it with all the roads closed.
 Nobody in our county died in the storm, which was a miracle, but many tried to get themselves killed which kept us busy. I heard no less than 15 water rescue calls for "2 people stranded in a vehicle with rising water", this after everybody had been told and warned to "STAY HOME". There were also two people who thought it would be a good idea to go tubing on one of the swollen rivers on Sunday afternoon. Two dive teams and over 35 rescuers were involved in tracking and getting them out. Personally, I thought they were TSTL (Too Stupid to Live) and they should have just let them go, Darwinism at it's best.
 One of our mutual aid departments had a rough time of it, and lost their new Engine and a chief's buggy when the road gave out under them:

 From a personal perspective (some have asked), After the funeral I turned my attention to family. My parents are in their 90's and not as sharp or self reliant as they used to be. My Mom is on home O2 and with no power, this was a problem. So I spent all my time shuttling O2 bottles for her and getting water for them to flush the toilet, food they could eat, etc. Their road was closed on one end by a bird's nest of trees and power lines, and on the other, 4 miles down, by water 2 feet deep over the road. It was a challenge.
 Our town came through pretty well. The folks up the line, not so much. There is total devastation in many towns up there, and I will be heading up tomorrow to lend a hand.
 I am toast, the emotional load of worrying about, and caring for my folks has drained me. The calls we ran, including a code at the height of the storm, got that adrenaline pumping and I am still trying to calm it down.
 Here is a video of our area done by some local residents. Obviously, you won't know the places that are significant to me, but I can tell you that the home my daughter lived in last year is one of the ones you will see water halfway up the walls, the post office is one I have stopped in, the firehouse that is flooded is the one I did funeral standby coverage at last weekend, and the market (which way never re-open because it has 1 foot of myd through the whole store) is one I have shopped in for 30 years. What you see in this video is only the tip of the iceberg for our area. We lost over a hundred homes, torn right off the foundations. The bridge that is shown in the beginning of this video is still missing. They don't know where it went. Normal water levels are about 20 feet below this bridge deck, you can see that the water was a bit higher during the storm.
 AT any rate, we are all alive, and will live to fight again.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see a post from you. I've been worrying, not having heard. Not much happened here, but some friends went over to help out in the Cobleskill area, to North Blenheim, and said it was just awful.
    Hadn't seen video from your area, but from reports from surrounding areas, knew you had probably been pretty busy.
    Glad you're okay.
    Let me know if there's some way we can help.