Zombie Apocalypse! (but no zombies…)
It has been made abundantly clear that should there be a zombie apocalypse, I will likely become a zombie within about 3 days. If not, it will be by pure accident, or by the sheer will and determination of others to keep me human.
I know this, because I just spent the last week dealing with Hurricane Sandy.
At around 6:35pm Monday, while trying to finish up a rather minor quest in Star Wars:The Old Republic, everything went dark. I knew it would happen, so I wasn’t surprised. I fumbled around looking for the flashlights and candles I’d smartly left on the kitchen table, and settled in. My husband, who heads the water department for the neighboring town, had been working very late trying to prepare, so I was alone with the my faithful companions – a big black cat with one fang, a small white cat that loves to climb onto the counter and get into bread, and a dopey dog that despite my preference for cats has attached himself to me more than any other member of the household. Though towns had issued warnings that power could be out for a week, I don’t recall being without power for more than a day or so, and assumed it would be back on rather quickly.
You see, I live in northern New Jersey. I am extremely lucky in that my part of New Jersey is rather far from the shore, and located in a rather hilly area where the worst we had to deal with were downed trees that took out power lines. We were even luckier that on our street, the downed trees appeared to miss houses altogether and fall in the best possible ways they could. Check out the scene I found outside my door the next morning:
These are two shots of the same tree from both sides, and this tree was located on the far corner of my neighbor’s property on the right side of my home. The trunk had to be at least two feet in diameter, but all it did was rip up a corner of a wooden fence and pull down some electrical and cable lines.
Here’s a few more fallen trees that came down to the left of my home, two houses down:
As I walked around the neighborhood, it was almost eerie how trees that fell did so little damage to houses. Perhaps a shed got smooshed, or a fence got taken out, but all in all people were thankful for the lack of issues.
Again, I wasn’t terribly concerned. I kept the fridge closed to maintain the cold and used my cell phone as little as possible, grateful that my husband had left his Chevy Avalanche for me (the cigarette lighter allows for recharging without requiring the vehicle to be started). Texted with friends and family to check in – everyone was fine but without power. Ended up at my neighbor’s house for company and ideas on what to do next.
Again, I was lucky in that someone allowed me to tap into a generator – all I wanted was to keep my fridge cold so I didn’t lose the food. My neighbor got a generator from her family once they got power back, and I brought food from my freezer over in payment for letting me keep warm and drink hot coffee. News was difficult to get because no one had internet or cable, and public radio all just described the devastation by the shore… heartbreaking, of course, but it would have been helpful to run down town centers where people could gather (charge up cell phones here, or get bottled water there).
My husband – who went through Hurricane Katrina and the two weeks without power afterwards – warned me that the first 24-36 hours after losing power, everyone eats great! They eat all the food that will spoil, and it’s like a big campout, but shortly after that, people will begin to stress out. Looting and violence becomes a concern. I told my neighbor she should chain down her generator, just in case.
Glad I did, too. There was a town utility truck with a generator in the back that was tasked with keeping the sewer pumping station going, and a couple of great DPW guys would roll by every few hours to top off the tank. In the middle of the second night, two men tried to take off with it and the gas cans left for it. Bastards.
We got power back about 51 hours after we lost it, luckily we didn’t need to take more drastic measures. Suddenly things were getting normal again. But then they backslid. Not everyone had power, and the lack of gasoline became a concern. I had been severely restricting the use of the Avalanche – it’s a gas hog anyway, but I didn’t REALLY need to go anywhere. I work from my home, and even though I didn’t have power, I was still without internet and cable, so my ability to work was completely hamstrung.
I had friends over who were still without heat and power so they could warm up and bathe in hot water, and another friend is camped out in our spare room with her pup since her town has no idea when power will be restored.
The whole time, I’m thinking “I’m cool, this is fine, we’re fine, nothing bad’s happened.” and I pat myself on the back for being so darn awesome in a crisis! I can totally handle this! Maybe I WON’T die in a zombie apocalypse!
Today, we got internet and cable back, six days after it went poof. My family is all reporting that they have power back or are staying with people who have it, friends are all in similar situations.
But as the days go by and things are getting better, I realize I am becoming increasingly stressed out and less capable of making any plans or moving forward. Somewhat simple tasks become huge roadblocks, to the point where I need to literally take a chill pill. Of course that wasn’t very effective at getting me to plan better, but it stopped the frenetic pacing and wringing of hands.
So yeah, I can kid myself and think I’ll be awesome in a crisis, when really… THIS: