Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Natural Disaster week

On Tuesday, August 23, an earthquake shook Richmond. It was recorded as a 5.8 magnitude quake, the strongest recorded earthquake in Virginia in over 100 years. Crazy, to say the least. Granted, it's strength was not much compared to other places in the world, but since the epicenter was about 30 miles from us it shook our house really hard.

Much of the east coast felt the ground shake as well. For many who have lived on the East coast for the majority of their lives, myself included, this was the first earthquake we've experienced. Chuck called me in the middle of it and told me not to worry "it was just an earthquake and it was not that strong."

The girls and I were all together in their room reading and the quake was over by the time I got them ushered out of the house while trying to stay calm. Since no one I personally knew was affected by the earthquake, I was very grateful.

Then just 4 days later, on Saturday, August 27, Hurricane Irene slammed the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Richmond experienced wind gusts stronger than was anticipated, which blew over massive trees and ripped down power lines. I was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of destruction so close to our home.

In the days leading up to the hurricane, Chuck would send emails to all of our family on the East Coast to help them prepare for a hurricane. Now with 3 of his 5 sisters in NC, he felt he needed to help them prepare. Lucky for them, the hurricane winds did not hit Raleigh as strong as they hit Richmond.

We lost power at about 3:00 in the afternoon on Saturday at the start of the storm. The power had been flashing on and off all morning. Inside our house, the winds and rain did not sound very loud, so the girls were not very nervous about the storm. Around 6:00 PM, Chuck went out to fill up on gas on get a few bags of ice and already saw the earliest downed trees and power lines.

On Sunday morning, Lucy woke up at 6:30 AM, so the two of us decided to drive around the neighborhood. I woke up feeling so relieved that we lived in our current house and not in our old house that we had just moved from 2 months ago. I had dreamed that a tree fell on our old house, and the dream was so vivid that I wanted to drive over and see how the old house was. When we started to drive just two houses away on both sides of the street large trees had fallen in our neighbors yards barely missing their homes. I was overcome with emotion and gratitude that our home was safe that I started to cry.

As I continued to drive, more trees were down some blocking the roads making them impossible to drive through. Even some areas had power line poles and power lines in the road blocking the road. I was overwhelmed. I cried more.

I drove back home, never going to the old house to "check on it" and picked up Chuck and the other girls who were now awake.

We drove to friends' homes to check on them and offer help. We came to one friend's home who had a tree fall on their carport and blocking their cars. (Funny side story: We looked at buying this house when it was for sale just a few months ago. Later, the owners decided to continue renting it and our friends moved in there just last month.) Luckily, no major damage was done to the house. Chuck stayed to help cut down and remove the tree so they were able to move their cars and I went to a friends house for a little while.

We managed for a few days, trying to eat as much refrigerated food as we could before it spoiled, sharing it with others. On Monday, the power came on for some, including Chuck's office. They have showers in his office building, so we took showers there, the girls watched movies and Chuck and I worked. After realizing it could be several days for the power to be restored, the girls and I went to NC.

On Thursday afternoon, an old neighbor called to see how we weathered the storm asking, "A tree didn't fall on your new house, did it?"  She then proceeded to tell me that a tree had fallen on our old house. I could not believe it. My dream and feelings of relief the morning after the hurricane were justified. That's right, a tree had fallen on our old house, as well as on one of the houses we contemplated buying.

I drove over that afternoon to see the damage to our old house. Luckily, it is still empty. The damage was minimal, but still fairly bad. The tree had fallen on the back porch and broke through the crown of the roof. I'm sure there was water damage in the attic. Even though there wasn't complete damage, I think, emotionally, it would have been hard for me to see that on Sunday morning. There were lots of massive trees down on our old street. I am glad a few days passed before I drove over there.

We remained without power for 6 days (about 128 hours).

What I learned from natural disaster week:

Do laundry the day before - I knew the hurricane was coming, so Saturday morning I washed every piece of dirty laundry in our house. That was a lifesaver. Especially, since our power was out for 6 days.

Get ice - We tried to transfer as much food as we could to our coolers. We had some ice, but not enough. On Sunday, Chuck went to over 2 dozen stores, who were all out of ice. He finally got the idea to go to a hotel. He went up to the 3rd level to the ice machine room and filled up a Rubbermaid tub full of ice and brought it home. (He says not to worry about his crime because the evidence is melted away now.) We still had to throw away about $200 worth of food.

A generator would have been nice - just to plug in our fridge and deep freezer. That would have been worth the cost savings of all the food lost.

You can make lots of yummy food on a grill - I reheated a lasagna, made ham and cheese omelets, quesadillas, and the usual chicken, hot dogs, and veggies.

Great excuse to visit family - After realizing that we would be out of power for several days, I went to NC to visit family. It was nice visiting sisters and cousins before school starts.

It was a nice break from TV and internet - The girls and I played hide and seek and other fun games together. We read lots of books. After a few days of Lucy begging to watch TV, I would tell her, "If you can figure out a way to turn on the TV, you can watch it all you want." She eventually quit asking.

Headlamps are a must - When dealing with diaper changes, dressing and washing children, reading, cooking, everything...two hands are better than one. Headlamps are a lifesaver. If you do not have them in your emergency kits, now is the time to go buy them. Totally worth every dollar. Quality crank flashlights are great too. The kids always want their own and you don't have to be crazy about "wasting batteries."

Water is a blessing - Being without power was pretty manageable. Being without water too, would have been really hard. I am so grateful for our water. (Especially when you read this.)

Earthquake VS Hurricane - With experiencing both in one week, it's easy to compare the two. With the earthquake (an above average strength 5.8 magnitude earthquake), the damage was considerably less than the hurricane (a minimal category 1 hurricane). But with an earthquake, you get no warning, no days to prepare, no news to watch about predictions on when it will arrive, you only realize what it was once it is over. I'm not sure I prefer either, but as for last week, the earthquake had a lot less impact on us than the hurricane.

This is the second major hurricane that Chuck and I have experienced together. September 2003 with Hurricane Isabel and now Hurricane Irene. What's up with the I's?

2 years old

Charly turned two at the beginning of July, but she thinks she just turned six. She thinks that she is big enough to do anything her sisters are doing. Most of the time she does pretty good at keeping up with them. I am amazed at how strong she is.

I can't believe how much she has grown recently. When we went to her two-year check-up and she sat there in her diaper on the table waiting for the doctor, she looked like a little girl with actual rolls on her legs. None of my girls were ever chubby babies with rolls. I could hardly believe that she was the same child that weighed a mere 14.5 lbs from 4 months to 10 months old or that I had to take her in for weight checks every two weeks. I remember being so stressed when she fell off the growth chart and would just cry and pray that she would grow. It was so exciting when she finally hit the growth chart again when she was almost one. Well I'm so excited to say that she has caught back up! She is in the 75th percentile for height and weight!!! The doctor asked, "Is this really the same child we were so worried about this time last year?" We never figured out what was causing her lack of growth, but we are glad that her body figured it out on its own.

This little girl is such a joy to our family.

She has no fear and loves to jump onto, off of, or into anything.  (I had some great pictures of her jumping into the pool, but I can't seem to find them and think they may have accidentally gotten erased. Oh, well.)

Her favorite phrases to say are: "I do it!" and "Watch this!" which usually is followed be her jumping off of something. I'm amazed every day at the new things that she says and talks about.

When our other 2 girls where at this age, we were in the "lack of sleep from a newborn fog" and I really don't remember how much fun a two year old can be. She is hilarious and so excited to learn new things and new words. She is so in love with her sisters and loves her independence. I think I allow her to do some things I did not let my older girls do because she usually has her older sisters there with her holding her hand.

She is was one lucky girl to have such wonderful sisters and I am one lucky woman to be their mother.