Monday, November 20, 2006

A stormy day

As I was driving to work this morning, I heard on the radio that BC is just 90 mm of rainfall short of breaking its record November rains ever. Some people viewed this as some kind of silver lining (Wow, a new record!) on the dark clouds that have hovered over the province for weeks now, pouring rain like never before – okay, not yet until the record is broken.

Last week, we had a strong rain and wind storm that had never happened here before. That’s what people, including those who have lived here all their lives, said. For my family who’s been here more than 8 years, it was certainly the strongest we had experienced.

Though no match to the Philippines’ strongest typhoons, last week's storm still gave me the jitters. I was at work when the wind descended and knocked out power in many parts of the Lower Mainland including the area where we live. Good thing my boss allowed us to go home a bit earlier.

What normally took me 30 minutes--max--to drive took me 2 hours Wednesday night. Traffic was horrible. Most traffic lights were out which meant that drivers had to follow the four-way-stop procedure. That’s one good thing about traffic here though. Whenever the lights don’t work, drivers take turns at intersections, one vehicle one at a time, depending on who got there first. Might be tricky at times especially when there are 3 lanes in one direction, but you won't see a traffice policeman directing traffic even at the busiest intersection. So even though traffic gets heavily backed up, it is not in knots where everyone is stuck at the center. I like four-way-stops and drivers who respect them.

My right foot and leg hurt from stepping on the brakes for most of the 2 hours on the road. My bladder was swelling. On top of these discomforts, I started to feel sleepy, which hardly happens to me on the wheel no matter how sleep-deprived I am. The slooow traffic and bad weather were lulling me to sleep. Thank God, I made it home safely and was able to pick up Mickey from his workplace as well. I got us some Church’s Chicken for dinner because there was no way I could cook without power. We have no gas range.

When I got home, Bud Wiser was waiting for me before heading out to an appointment. He had lit several little candles including the scented ones and the citronella candle that was meant for outdoors to drive away mosquitoes. The boys were entertaining themselves by playing games on the cellphone.

Mickey was worried about not being able to recharge his phone. “What am I going to do? I can’t charge my phone.” he fretted. “Well, what you have always been doing before you had a phone,” I answered.

Markus tried to pass time by creating shadows on the wall while Gabriel and I guessed what they were. “This is the fastest creature on earth,” Markus hints. “Panther?” I ask. He and Gabriel laugh at the way I said pan-TER, and not pan-thur. “Mom, it's cheetah.” “Waaat eber,” I reply.

I was already relaxing on the couch and falling asleep when the boys started to bug me about going to Tita Ma’s house because their place had power. Outnumbered and outwhined, I gave in and we all drove to Tita Ma’s place, only a block away. Markus brought his homework and Mickey his cellphone for recharging. We were glued to Terminator 3 on TV when Gino called my cell at past 9 pm. Past 10 he called again. His bus still had not come and could I pick him up from Langley? He had come off his part-time work at my office’s call centre. Ugh, I have to drive back to Langley. I hope the traffic is no longer as bad.

I packed the boys in the car, dropped them off (No scaring!) at home and drove off to Langley. I had told Gino to get on the bus if it came and just call me on my cell so I could make a U-turn. Nearing the bus stop where I was to pick him up, I called Gino to let him know I was in the area.

“I’m already on the bus, Mom,” he said. Gino’s bus had come, he had called my cell, but I didn’t hear the buzz. I headed back home, and Gino and I arrived within a minute of each other. Fortunately, traffic on the freeway had cleared.

Power came back past 11 pm, was out again before 8 the next morning after I had washed all the dirty dishes and boiled a big pot of water. We were on a boil-water-advisory because the rains had stirred up the reservoirs. Just as a precautionary measure, we were told. We were advised not to even use tap water to brush our teeth or wash the plates. Too late. I had done all those things before I heard the news. No, wait, I think I forgot all about it because our tap water was not at all turbid unlike in some areas.

Our power and water were back to normal after 2 days. I realized how unprepared we were for these kinds of emergencies. We just assume there will always be power and water and cellphone and Internet. Suddenly, we were helpless.

At least I had spare batteries for the flashlights.


lhb said...

Hi Mrs. Blossoms,
Costco sells flashlights that are battery-free. You wind them up by hand for a minute and its LED lights are good for about half-an-hour. I bought two and sent one to the Philippines. I hear there are also radios like these. I may buy one too just for emergencies.

lerryblossoms said...

Thanks for the tip. Good timing! I was really planning on going to Costco at lunch break. Now I have a valid reason other than try some food samples and browse through recipe books. BTW, belated happy birthday to the grandson of the doting lolo...

lhb said...

Just checked at the Costco here. The hand-cranked flashlight now has an AM-FM radio built-in. two for $26.99 here in the "nation" of Quebec. :-)

lerryblossoms said...

i got the flashlights today. cool! same price. my officemate and i split the cost and we got one each. thanks!