Inland Strong

The power to our house has been out for 7 cold-and-getting-colder nights since what has been called Windpocolypse – the worst wind storm since the grid went up, folks. That’s 126 years of crossing fingers that it wouldn’t happen. Someone forgot to say their prayers so we have been nomadic this last week. 

We rather enjoyed the first night. We soaked up the last of the warmth from our heater’s working day while we ate deli sandwiches by a cozy fire among flickering tealights. I told our children the Family Story – how we got from two kids in love to 5 people and a dog. We cuddled and giggled and had a jolly good time (it only took a natural disaster). 

  The second night followed a day of supply-gathering. We warmed soup over the fire and made tea without our electric kettle. We felt quite resourceful; it turns out we are fine pioneers given access to a Costco.

By the third night we had to interrupt a friend’s birthday gathering to use his shower because the smell and grime had reached critical mass. 

After running out of wood we spent the fourth night at said friend’s house (they are gracious, gracious people) where we piled into their living room and essentially held them hostage in the morning by sleeping in (they are also incredibly thoughtful people and didn’t want to disturb us). We woke up grateful to be warm, but very much over it. The adventure had worn off. 

After one last heroic attempt to occupy our home we decided against hypothermia and we are now borrowing another friend’s house until ours is once again habitable.

So it’s been a week. 

It has not been the most enjoyable situation, but one of the great things to come out of it already has been seeing this particular side of my city. The power went out, but her Light sure swelled in. Genuine, heartfelt offerings of food, shelter, wood, laundry utility, battery charging, warm air have been sprinkled all over facebook since last Tuesday. Without fail, whenever an area gets power restored, it’s inhabitants turn right around to offer help to those of us still without. Avista, our main power company, is constantly updating Spokanites with depserate compassion and a plea for understanding and I have seen so many people respond with just that. The linemen are working 18 hour shifts to fix the damage – their families have gone this entire last week without them – and they continue to rotate around the clock with the help of several other crews from all around this side of the country (even Canada!). The Spokane garbage trucks have been running extra passes to help residents clear debris, Duracell went around passing out batteries, various schools and churches and businesses have opened their doors. We have driven past neighbors on each other’s roofs repairing shingles and gatherings around fallen trees to remove them from roadways. During a historic power outage we have seen this city shine.

Even complaints have been tempered – we are all annoyed and getting more tired by the hour, but we are also aware that many have lost their homes, some their lives. There is an honorable sort of humor going around, making enough light of things to relieve tension, but carefully bowing around the fact that some people have been devestated.

I am endlessly grateful for the big stuff – that our people are safe, that our home hasn’t been damaged, that we have kept fed and mostly warm – but it’s the little things that have just blown me away. We have been loved so well by our people. We have received check-in texts every day from family in California and from concerned friends in the area. My children and I have spent each day somewhere warm among people who are willing to put up with us all sleep-deprived and zombie-like. Our friends found a place to plug in their freezer and picked up all of our frozen stuff to put in it. Another friend helped Gabe chop up a bunch of wood in his backyard so we could burn a fire all night. A neighbor we had never met introduced himself by offering us his brand new generator since his power had been restored and he knew we had small children. I mean really… 

Plus I have this group of friends far away – we call ourselves a tribe – and they let me whine about it and send me heart emoticons which really does cover a multitude. 

And I am sitting in the warm living room of a house we are borrowing. A house. We are borrowing a house. We have joined thousands of people in some amount of Need this last week and if there were any question before (there wasn’t), it would be extinguished now: we are among the Good Ones. Losing electricity is frustrating in our world because we depend on it for so much, but getting to see little acts of heroism, humble ofcourses and anythingyouneeds is what really energizes this thing. 

I hope our power comes back soon and I’ll be glad to add this to the Family Story. I’ll tell newcomers about it in a few years and share anecdotes with everyone else who was there for Windpocolypse. We’ll refer to it as The Storm of ’15 and I’ll recount burning our kettle in the fireplace and buying up a stock of Catholic prayer candles and how we could see a million stars from the middle of the city. I’ll tell people how my husband stood in hurricane-like conditions to save our neighbor’s fence and how another neighbor directed traffic with a flashlight to keep people from wrecking into a fallen tree. I’ll share the hilarious memes and blurbs that came out of it from the funny people I call my friends. I’ll remember this blackout for a lot of things, but I’ll never remember it as dark.

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