Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Stormwatching, the real deal

Everyone with a TV knows that the coast was hit with an amazing storm on December 3 and 4th, and Westport was not spared the brunt of Mother Nature.

My family and I hunkered down in our 2nd floor condo at Westport by the Sea and listened to the wind howl. And howl. And howl. The wind started whipping just after nightfall, and power was out by 11PM on Sunday. Come Monday morning, as we wandered out to survey the damage, we realized that the winds were still going strong. We did get a chance to see the high waves crashing in the Half Moon Bay and over the revetment wall at the Marina, which is always a wonderful sight.

With no power, we decided to try to head to town to stay with family, but the roads out of town in both directions were closed due to fallen trees. All day Monday, and well into the night the winds continued. Westport does not have an official weather station, but up and down the coast, wind gusts were reported at as much as 120 - 150 MPH. In Hoquiam, the nearest official weather station, the weather gauge broke at 81 MPH. The winds continued until late Monday night.

We spent most of the day huddled up, calling out of town to get intermittent weather reports from friends and family with internet access (in Seattle and beyond). With so many areas in the Grays Harbor PUD district out, and so many downed power lines between us and Aberdeen, the rest of the week kept us in the dark, without power, until it finally came on mid-morning on Saturday (5 and a half days!).

During the week following the storm, 2 things became apparent: (1) Westport is not high on the list for emergency response, and (2) People on the beach know how to take care of themselves. When we went around to check on elderly neighbors, it was quite clear that our neighbors were fairly prepared. Luckily, the weather was in the 50's, so the temperatures were not an issue. But for the most part, people were equipped with food and supplies to make it through the week. For those that weren't, the only real option in town was the Senior House, and Verna seemed to have that under control.

Since I have lived here, we have lost power about twice a year, and this was the longest we have ever been without. In spite of the challenges of living without hot water, cable TV, and high speed internet, we try to count our blessings:

(1) Really, really amazing night skies. Yes, without all the light pollution, the sky over our beaches are absolutely the most fantastic sight you might ever set eyes on.

(2) Time with our families to reflect to enjoy simple things. Yes, we can stand to look each other in the eyes and have a conversation without the TV blaring the in the background.

(3) The joy of a hot shower after and a warm meal. We tend to take things for granted, and its good to appreciate the small things.

So, yes, I am so happy to be back online, but the simple life is not so bad.