Saturday, May 09, 2009

we could call what happened on friday in carbondale the "graduation day inland hurricane"; it definitely upset graduation weekend in carbondale, but whether it was a tornado, inland hurricane, or just violent storm is a matter of dispute. whatever it was, 100 mph winds roared through town knocking over large trees whose roots were already very soggy; this damaged houses, cars, university, etc. blocking traffic for quite a while and causing untold hardship to households across town, most of whom are still without power. there will be power by about tuesday, if we're lucky; some places already have power, but lots of people including us have simply fled town for places where it's easier to live and sleep.

it's not that we're so connected to the media, though here in a hotel in paducah kentucky we're watching a lot of television; television is something we don't have in our regular day-to-day life. it's more that, to really camp, it takes a lot of energy, and we were exhausted on friday evening as we often are, and simply weren't up to it. our family needed a little vacation anyway, so we came down here, to the closest place to get supplies anyway; we holed up in a favorite motel w/hot tub, and here we are. unexpectedly one of the few townsfolk with internet.

we can say: it was quite a storm; big trees are down everywhere, and i wouldn't be surprised if lack of power caused considerable hardship to all kinds of people. you're lucky, the weather's on your side in this one, said the lady at wal-mart, who herself had lived without power for over ten days "back in the ice storm"...and she was right; half the people in there had done it at some time or another, and it happened in st. louis in january or something, when they needed to burn down garages to keep warm. neighborhoods bond; people cook together; everyone camps and gets by, stingy with cell-phone minutes and eager for any source of supplies. siuc was in a jam with its graduations; thousands of people were in town for the weekend; all the motels were full already; the local ones, for the most part, as out of power as everyone else. some people have found generators, including the hospital and one of the biggest restaurants. everyone else is grilling in the back yard. the weather is unpredictably gorgeous.

here in paducah, life goes on as usual, although at the walmart i stood with a group of southern illinoisans as i bought the last of the battery-lanterns from the camping department. in this cell-phone age i'm sure this one will be well-documented; i've already seen cars smashed, buildings with trees smashing the roof, etc. an insurance man's nightmare. twitter and the wireless media didn't play much of a role; nobody has it, or tunes in much even when there is power. the local media outlets, however, were ineffective when they didn't have power to run their operations; one couldn't find out much, power or not, from anyone, for quite some time.

the scariest moment for me was when, driving down giant city road to get our puppy, a line of cars coming the other way came under a low power line. we'd seen low power lines all over the city; some blocked roads, others were driven over by both cars and trucks and in fact, as i realized later, probably the main generators were already down and they weren't truly as dangerous as one would expect. but i didn't know this at the time, and an oncoming large truck tripped one, leaving an exposed power cable to fly right toward my windshield and open window. like most drivers though i kept my wits about me, and didn't wash into the waterlogged ditches out of fear or sudden swerving avoidance impulse. i also saw a few trees come down, i was there when it washed through. our house, our people, our crowd, all seem to be ok, miraculously. we don't expect school or daycares to open any time soon, but we can handle it; we've gotten supplies, and one way or another, we'll make it through. the graduation day inland hurricane- we survived it. how about you?


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