Friday, May 8, 2009

It Was A Dark And Stormy Day

Here I sit with no power. "But Mrs. Hillbilly Mom," you say, "Do you have a hamster wheel to run your computer?" No. But I have a GENERATOR that HH bought. Which means it's not really a great generator, but it will run various appliances in various combinations.

Yes, just when Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was on the mend from her broken neck and her piglet-flu-like virus and the bite from that long-term tick, along comes a storm and sits down beside her.

The sky darkened at school today, darker than the darkest night. You could not even see anything outside. We were told to review tornado drill procedures with each class. I told my kids, "If they sound the warning today, it probably won't be a drill." One little smarty-pants blurted out, "Way to go, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Scare us." I explained that we practice drills for years and never needed them. But we would never have a drill on a stormy day like this, because people would panic. I explained that we were all going over the information to keep everybody safe. That it was not a day to be joking around if they had to assume the position out in the hall. And furthermore, I told them that if I felt that anything really bad was going to happen to us, I most certainly would not be sitting at my desk grading their tests right now.

Fourth hour, there came an announcement, not a warning bell, to go to the hall and follow procedure for a tornado alert. We packed them in, two rows deep on each side of the hall, some in the bathrooms, away from all the glass. What we did not tell them was that a tornado was sighted two miles away, heading toward us. Thank the Gummi Mary, that little disturbance split, and part of it went on each side of us. We lolled around the hallway floor until that warning expired, then had another brief tense moment when the winds picked up and we again assumed the position. A couple of kids bawled their fool heads off, but an adult comforted each one.

The staff members were cool as cucumbers. The thing is, we know what to do, we do it, and the rest is out of our hands. That's why we have drills, people. So you just DO IT, you don't have to think. We spent about an hour in the hallways. Newmentia was lucky. We have back-up generators. Elementia and Basementia were in the dark all afternoon. We couldn't sent kids home, because of the threat of bad weather, and because some would not have an adult at home to meet them. The school's automated calling system alerted parents that they could pick up their children if they wanted, but that the buses would be running at the regular time. I had seven students missing from my 7th hour class of 20.

I did not so much worry about The Pony, because he is the type to do exactly as instructed. Every time the forecast is for unsettled weather, I tell them on the way to school, "Do what you're told. Don't ask questions. It's the teacher's job to keep you safe, so do what they say." And they roll their eyes and tell me, "We KNOW, Mom." But you can't say that enough. It ain't gonna be my kids panicking in a crisis.

The #1 son was on a Beta Club/Newspaper Staff trip to St. Louis. We didn't know the weather there. The one of the counseling staff couldn't reach her daughter, so I told her to call #1, who said the weather had been bad, but was fine now, and relayed the message for that girl to call her mom.

After our hour in the hallways, and portions of two classes, I had my plan time. I turned the power back on to my computer and got to looking. Places were flooded out that had never flooded before. Mini strip-malls and Dairy Queen and Huddle House and the road in front of my bank (ain't Karma a b*tch, Teller?), and roads and houses and auto repair shops and everywhere. On the way home, I saw water higher than I had seen in my lifetime of living in Hillmomba. And that's a long, long time.

I knew that my regular route would be flooded. With our new bridge, I figured the bridge would be fine, but that our creek would probably be into our gravel road that connects to the bridge road. We tried our second route. Luckily someone had been there before us and sawed through a fallen limb thicker than the #1 son. Approaching the bridge, we saw a road grader. Yep. That gravel that the county had left instead of blacktopping the bridge approach had washed away. Several new truckloads had just been graded. The driver motioned me across the bridge. It was a bump going up and over, since more gravel was still needed, but the creek had receded just enough from our road that there was room to drive. On the way up to the Mansion, HH called to tell us we couldn't make it. "Think again," said #1. "We just did."

Of course we have no power. Our area is down from 3000-something out to 685, but with no idea when it will be restored. The website says a crew has been assigned.

I hate being powerless.

No comments: