A Life Worth Binge Watching
S3 E6 The Power of Power
I am a born and raised Floridian, which means I am no stranger to hurricane season. I have seen my share of named storms, each one bringing their own set of unique qualities and headaches. Top of mind, is the hurricane season of 2004 when we had the triple threat of Charley, Frances and Jeanne. That was the only year I actually evacuated my home and drove for hours in bumper to bumper traffic to Atlanta. I have become a bit hesitant to leave since then, either out of complacency or the sheer frustration of having to pack up and deal with the traffic and chaos. Most years, I did at least get all of my hurricane supplies and tried to plan for the worst, but hope for the best. I have been blessed to never have experienced any great loss during any of these storms. When I look back at the devastation that occurred with many of these hurricanes, it breaks my heart for the people who literally lost everything, some even their lives.
When Ian threatened this year, I took a few precautions. I just had a screen put on my porch and I completely re-decorated it so I was worried about losing the screen or severe flooding. As a precaution, I grabbed my shovel and filled 20 sandbags by myself. Let me tell you those sandbags are heavy! I lined them all along the outer edge of my porch and hoped for the best. Part of me really did not think that we would get much from the storm so I really didn’t do much preparation for anything other than the exterior. I have been in my current home for about five years and it held up pretty well to the other storms. Ironically, the closing on my house was held up in 2017 because of a hurricane so I had to postpone my move-in. We never even lost power in the other storms so I gave my dad my generator. He almost always lost power and my stepmom is on oxygen, so he definitely needed it more than I did. Enter hurricane Ian.
My daughter and her roommate came home from South Florida to hunker down with me. It was nice to have them home and we spent most of our time during the storm just chilling out, watching Netflix and catching up. I made a big pot of chili the first night when the rain started and we pretty much just hung out and watched the weather roll in. We made it through the first night with everything staying intact. I kept going outside to dump out buckets of water around the porch and each time I went out the winds got stronger and the rain got harder.
We went to bed that second night and I think somewhere around 6 AM we lost power.
It really wasn’t a big deal because it was daylight, and I figured we would get it back any minute. I had not bought any ice or really any non-perishable food so we didn’t have much at the house to really eat at this point. The storm had pretty much passed by this time and around mid day we decided to venture out to see how bad the flooding was and to see if there was any thing open so we could get something to eat. Luckily for us Buck-ees never closed. We pulled up to the most crowded parking lot I’ve ever seen there. Typically it’s always busy there, but this was absolute chaos. There were people getting gas, and the inside of the store was absolutely packed. We walked and the smell of their famous barbecue sandwiches made us immediately get in the line that was wrapped around the length of the store. Apparently everyone had the same idea! All I really wanted was a cup of coffee, because that’s what I had missed the most that morning. We got our snacks, my coffee, and were lucky enough to find a bag of ice. When we returned home to my disappointment, our power was still off and it was almost dark so we started lighting candles and hunting for the flashlights.
The rest of the evening went extremely slow because when you don’t have power, you don’t realize how much you can’t do! You can’t watch TV you can’t cook, you can’t see very well with candles, and you definitely don’t want to go to sleep with them burning. We sat together on the couch and watched a movie on the only I-pad with battery left, until it shut off. I am one of those people who has to have a TV on to fall asleep so that was definitely a challenge for me to try to get to sleep without any noise or light.
I started thinking as I was trying to fall asleep about how lucky we were.
We were in a home that was completely free of damage, our stomachs were full and we had each other. I couldn’t imagine being more blessed. I started thinking about all of the people on the west coast of Florida that literally lost everything they had, and figured that losing power was literally nothing in comparison. It made me feel like we as a society, including myself, we have become so spoiled to have so many luxuries. Yes, not having power is in an inconvenience, but it’s not devastating. It made me realize how much we depend on power since pretty much everything we do requires electricity. We are a technology-focused society, and we like our air conditioning, our warm food, our cell phones and binge watching our favorite shows. The power that power has over our lives is incredible.
One of the other things that I really recognized during these days after the storm is how many utility workers come from all over the country to try to help restore our power. We ran into some guys at dinner one night who had driven from New Jersey and were staged at the Flagler Airport. We had passed an enormous amount of power utility vehicles on Hwy 100 as they were lined up to stage there but I didn’t really understand what that meant. The guys told me that they would stay there at night and that semi trucks were brought in with beds and bathrooms for them to sleep in. He described it as being horrific conditions as there were many beds stacked in tight quarters, communal showers and not the cleanest facilities.
Think ” porta-potty inside of a semi.”
I immediately felt so much respect and admiration for these guys, even more so than I already did. To think that they would just leave their comfy lives behind, to get on the road to help other people outside of their own state get power back, just really hit home with me. These guys truly are the heroes in the story. They deserve the utmost appreciation and I wish there was something we could do to honor them. I hope all who read this did not have any tragic or devastating loss throughout this past hurricane, although I am confident that some will have. My heart goes out to you and just know that we have an amazing community of people who are willing to help. If you need anything or can provide anything I urge you to join my Facebook page Volusia/Flagler Standing Together for Community.
It’s a resource for people who need help or can offer help.
Melodye Lewis is a Friday columnist for Flagler News Weekly, inspiring women everywhere to follow their dreams of adventure.
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