Joseph Abbott (faxpaladin) wrote,
Joseph Abbott
faxpaladin

In the dark (Tornado, Part 4)

It was still raining like all get-out, but the wind had calmed enough that I felt safe making some quick supply ventures. First item of business: I knew I had a battery-powered lantern over by the Mac. I felt my way though to there and got it. Next: Into the bedroom to shut off the weather-radio alarm. Oh, yes, that was why I hadn't brought it into the bathroom with me: It had a battery backup (thus the alarm going off), but the power cord was permanently attached in back. I spent a few entertaining seconds working out which outlet behind what it was plugged into, then got it unplugged. I also grabbed the pocketwatch and checked the time: It was about 1 a.m. now.

Back in the bathroom with the loot, hanging the lantern from the shower-curtain rod. Listening to the weather radio, I remembered the second reason I hadn't brought it in with me: It wasn't telling me much new, just cycling through the voice-synthesized watches and warnings. (One of the few new items: That last alert had turned out to be a flash-flood warning.)

I waited in or near the bathroom until about 1:15, when the tornado warning was set to expire. At some point shortly after that I stepped out onto the areaway. It was still raining hard. The whole complex was dark; I could see some people wandering around. I hallo-ed out to them and got no response -- from them; my neighbor, however, came out when she heard me. We talked for a bit, poked heads out as far as we could without getting wet, looked at the fallen tree limbs. There didn't seem to be any damage to buildings that we could see, no broken glass or anything. She showed me the hail damage to the houseplants she had out on the areaway, holes punched through leaves; the hailstones we found were dime-sized or pea-sized, but rapidly melting -- hard to say how big they'd been when they fell. We could see someone out checking his car for damage.

I intended to walk around looking for damage when the rain let up, but it kept raining for the next few hours. People with normal sleep schedules started giving up and going to bed. I called various people I knew from work to see if they were all right; one co-worker said the station I had been watching had reported winds over 80 mph near them just before going off the air. I called the city editor to let him know this and also to tell him the power was still out where I was (he was on his way out to go check on damage around the city). At some point I turned the backlighting on the cell phone screen off to conserve power (there was still enough lightning that I was nervous about using the landline).

Every so often I'd walk back out onto the areaway to watch the rain. Every so often I'd wonder when the rain was going to stop, start to go check the radar, remind myself that I couldn't. At some point in there I was practicing the guitar, trying to see how much of "Merlin" I had memorized (for some reason I always have this impulse to play "Merlin" while it's storming -- I can hear the voices coming through the ground, / the spirits that kick old bones around / and the wind picks up again... I usually have lights to read lyrics by when I'm doing it, though). I thought about using the cell phone to send an LJ post, remembered I hadn't set that up (still need to do that), tried sending an email via phone to starcat_jewel -- the only person who might be up at that hour whose e-mail I could remember off the top of my head. The phone gave me an error message, though. And I kept looking at the watch.

Around 3:20 I looked at the watch and sleepily tried to calculate how long the power had been out. That, it turned out, was a good time to do that, because that's when the power came back on. Lights: check. Air conditioner: very check. Reset the clocks that needed resetting (the bedroom clock also has a battery backup, though it turns out to have gone about 10 minutes fast during that time (I still haven't reset it -- it's one of those that sets back by setting all the way around forward)). Turn the TV on -- the channel I had been watching, channel 25, was still off the air (it turned out that I'd've been able to watch it if I had had cable, but the transmitter was still out), switched between channel 10, which had people sitting around a table in the lobby or break room or someplace because that's where the emergency lighting was (with occasional jury-rigged playing of videotape), and channel 6, which was showing nothing but radar with a weatherman giving voiceover. (Yup, still raining.) I got the Mac back up and talking to the outside world and posted a brief entry to LJ. After a while I debated whether to wait for dawn (about an hour away) and reconnoiter, or go to sleep. Sleep won.

And now I'm about caught up, except for channel 25 being back on the air when I woke up around 11 or noon, and getting lightly sunburned because I forgot to put on a hat when I went out to take the pictures...
Tags: 5/06 tornado, weather
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