Sunday, October 14, 2018

Michael the Bitch

There's a certain appealing eeriness about the total darkness—apart from my lantern—at Casa de Rodan
with virtually the whole city devoid of electrical power.
When Hurricane Florence reared her ugly head a few weeks back, advance reports indicated she was going to be the Mother of Dragons... er... Storms, and everyone in North Carolina was advised to buy hurricane snacks and batten down the hatches. Most of us at least got as far as buying some hurricane snacks, i.e., wine and brie. Florence brought significant rain to the Piedmont Triad, and took out power in a few places, but what was supposed to be this giant gale turned out to be more of a fart. Then a few days ago, Hurricane Michael showed up south of Florida, and word was we might get fairly heavy rain for a day or two.

Michael kicked our asses. North Carolina got hit with more wind, rain, and damage than any other state in the storm's path, and the Triad—where I am—got hit worst of all. According to official reports, about 90,000 people lost power. As yet, property damage has not been fully assessed. There were downed trees literally everywhere I went. Duke Energy indicated they had to contend with 75 broken poles, 40 transformers, 150,000 feet of wire on the ground, and over 2,800 individual outage locations. Falling trees knocked out a transmission line that fed two of Duke's substations in northeast Greensboro, and massive flooding delayed the repair.
The first sign that Michael is a bitch.Start bailing,
ladies and gentlemen...

The first sign that things were going really badly on Thursday was when water began flooding our second-floor office, primarily due to the balcony having zero drainage, and water six inches deep having nowhere to go but inside the building. Not to mention non-existent seals on windows, which admitted significant quantities of water directly into the suite. And air conditioning vents taking on water and dumping it on us from the ceiling. As far as I'm concerned, it's a staggering indictment of the builder's stupidity, which I have been harping on since long before Michael. It's easily the most horrendously designed building I've ever worked in. We—the staff of The Mailbox—ended up having to take responsibility for bailing and sopping up water all Thursday afternoon. The building management finally got some pumps working sometime after business hours, so that on Friday—after the worst of the weather had passed—at least we had a mostly dry office.

Since our homes were both dark, rather than go straight home on Friday evening, Ms. Brugger and I ventured over to Rioja Wine Bar, a favorite destination of ours, and one of the few establishments in the area to retain power. So we honored them with some significant patronage on Friday night, I can tell you.

Saturday morning, after about 30 hours in the dark, Ms. B.'s power came back on. So yesterday, still with no electricity flowing at my house, I trucked over to her place and made myself productive working on West Virginia: Lair of the Mothman, which is in its finishing stages. Despite my presence, Ms. B. managed to make the best of the situation. However, I knew my mom, in Martinsville, VA, was without power or working telephone. I eventually managed to contact some of her friends as well as my brother, who went up from Winston-Salem last night to make sure she was secure. And I headed there early this morning to help set things straight—ironically, just about the time my own power came back on, after almost 60 hours.

Martinsville was hit hard as well. It's a miracle my mom's power came back on when it did, as literally every power pole on the block north of her place—right up to her yard—was demolished. It was all still down when I left for home a short while ago.

I rarely have a good word to say about Duke Energy, and as a supposedly competent corporate entity, I have naught but disdain for it. However, I do give those hardworking crews who have gotten out there to clean up this horror all the credit they deserve. Given the sheer scope of the damage, I am fortunate I'm not still stumbling around in the dark. I did lose some of my refrigerated items, but I managed to get a fair amount of the most expensive edibles I had in the freezer transferred over to Ms. B.'s freezer before it was too late. Currently, my cable and internet are still out, but since I have phone service, I'm using my phone's hot spot to connect via my laptop.

This has been a matter of making the best of a bad situation and counting one's blessings under the circumstances. And quite frankly, because the storm turned out to be such a monster, dealing with it hasn't been the bitter pill it is when someone spits on the road and knocks out the power in Greensboro for hours on end—which is so commonplace that investing in a generator has become a most appealing prospect.

If you were in the storm's path, I hope you have made out no worse than I. My best to you and yours.
Damage to power lines at the lot adjacent to my mom's
Trees and poles down at Patrick Henry Mall, Martinsville, VA
Rufus Brugger cares not a whit about the inconveniences of hurricanes when it means he can lie on
Old Dude's laptop case.

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