Thuwmpf. You know that sound. It’s the sound you hear before the deafening silence as your power goes out. All lights, all sound fades to blackness as electronics power down. Usually it is a bit of inconvenience. Maybe an hour – maybe four.
This time it was early in the am on Monday morning. And, the next time that it came back on without interruption was Thursday. Naturally that was the day we had a pipe burst and our kitchen flooded with water.
If you haven’t been following the news this week, severe weather affected more than 100 million Americans and with snow and ice. While power has been restored to millions in Texas, nearly half of the residents, 13 million as of Friday, don’t have access to clean, running water. How cold did it get? The Buzzfeed article brings it to life. Due to no electricity, the temperature in our home averaged about 47 degrees for several days – the single gas fireplace did not add much and even if we had a wood burning fireplace, there was no wood to be found.
Things only exasperated when our US Senator Ted Cruz decided a trip in Mexico was necessary for his family to escape his freezing home and, our “leader” lied about the trip blaming his daughters and even leaving his dog, “Snowflake” behind. This is not leadership no matter what your politics. As someone who invested in trip cancellation insurance and has had to disappoint my family because it was the right thing to do as a leader, I have no words except I hope Texans remember election time.
From a work perspective, it was tough. I consult for some clients and also have a job as the Acting Chief Marketing Office for a software and services company. I prayed for my laptop not to die while I hosted a global call with public relations agencies from the US, France and London and a new executive. I personally shared my plight in my leadership role, which resulted in our very kind and empathetic CEO, based in another country, telling people in Texas to stop working on Thursday and Friday and to concentrate on their families. I tried to hold it all together, but a hot spot can only do so much. Thankfully, most people were understanding.
In the wine world, I also experienced grace. I had three tastings (one podcast) and one happy hour read the headlines and immediately offered to reschedule or gracefully allowed me to bow out. It’s hard when your Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs comes down to basic survival. Thank you to Gabe’s View, Alma de Cattleya, Dandy Wine and La Valentía Wine for your understanding.
There are many moments that define a family when they spend a week huddling up by a gas fire (and I’ve never been so thankful for that fireplace) with candles lit waiting for power that always seemed too fleeting. It was a lot of cold, darkness, candles, rummaging for food in the fridge and pantry and, of course, there was wine.
A few moments are worth mentioning:
- My amazing family – there actually were some strong bonding moments huddling together in the cold. Both my husband and daughter showed some superhero moments. My husband helped an elderly neighbor get medical attention when he found her in the snow with a bleeding head wound. He helped three neighbors turn off the water lines to their homes saving countless dollars of damage from their busted water pipes. And, if our daughter didn’t go for a midnight snack, we wouldn’t have known a pipe exploded in our kitchen, pouring water throughout. Our animals definitely provided lots of moments of warmth except when they huddled by the fire (taking our warm place.)
- My caring neighbors and friends – we helped neighbors and neighbors helped us. It was the true definition of what a good neighborhood is and we, frankly, have one of the best. So many friends and relatives texted and emailed to check in on us. People gave us food so we had meals. They gave us fresh water. We received so many encouraging messages as we sat in the dark.
- This portable charger that I hadn’t used in years – thank you for still powering me up and allowing me not to lose my 622 consecutive move day on my Apple Watch when the battery unexpectedly died.
- My contractor – he was amazing. We’ve worked with him a long time and he came quickly Friday and capped our damaged water pipe so we had water to the home again. I’m sure when the dust clears, we’ll find out the extent of the pipe damage and replacement, but not having to use snow to wash our hands and flush our toilets, is such a relief.
I also learned another lesson. On Wednesday, after little to no sleep because it was so cold, I took a melatonin hoping it would give me some relief. Close to midnight, my daughter came into our room yelling that we had a water leak. I don’t remember much, but apparently, I stood in my blue reindeer Christmas pajama bottoms in a complete daze asking, “do you need my help.” I managed to shovel up some water and call the insurance company, but I think most of my participation was standing in a trance in the water like some crazy Lady of the Lake. Probably not the best in a crisis situation. But we have a great family story.
We are lucky. Some are not. While power has been restored for some, we now face a crisis where many, including my parents and brother, have to boil water because water treatment facilities are not deemed safe. We have a shortage of bottled water and there are too many households with no water due to busted pipes and not enough plumbers to fix them. NBC News sums it all up here. I pray that people get the relief that they need quickly. It was the nights the lights went out in Texas, neighbors gathered together to assist and a gas fire, our pets, wine and togetherness saved our personal sanity.