Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Its already 3 days post hurricane Irene.  Living in upstate NY we don't often have hurricanes at all.  Usually we get some rain from hurricanes that hit Florida and travel up the coast, weakening as they come closer.  But this time it was different.   For days we checked the weather every chance we could.  Irene was huge and was coming up the east coast.  There was a good chance we would get hit with some part of Irene.  I stayed awake until midnight Sat. night.  Irene was coming, having made it to Atlantic City New Jersey.  It looked like we would be getting heavy rain starting around 2:00am.  I fell asleep and woke up at exactly 2:00am.  I could hear some rain but with our fans on,  I couldn't tell how much.  Five minutes later the phone rang.  Scott was getting called out to work for a tree down.  Hurricane Irene had the middle of the night...and I was going to be alone with Sierra.  A little while later the fire calls began..wires down..possible smoke in a structure.....water in basements.  I got out of bed early in the morning. I had brought Sierra downstairs so she wouldn't be alone upstairs.  David had slept at the firehouse so they would be ready to respond.  It was very rainy and very windy.  We lost power around 7:00am.  We do have a generator so we were able to have some lights and some plugs and our food was safe.  I had a radio which gave updates every 15 minutes or so.  The rain and wind continued all morning.  We would look outside at the trees bending and blowing and then I would have to look away.  We have some huge trees,trees over one hundred years old.  I couldn't imagine one of them falling on our house.  Sierra was awesome.  She found things to keep her busy.  She played with a container of Tanagrams.  She made the most incredible  figures and designs.  We played Chutes and Ladders, she blew up balloons and made our balloon family!!  She kept herself busy all day long.  I so enjoyed the time with her.  At the same time I was worrying about Scott and all my boys.  They were out in this mess, putting their lives in danger to help those in need.  Our small volunteer fire company had over 45 calls on Sunday.  Many were people with flooded basements, dangerously flooded, with water 4 and 5 feet high. Scott was working, he works for the highway dept.  They  were frantically trying to keep roads open and putting barricades up where roads had disappeared.  Trees were snapping and falling all around them..not a reassuring picture in my mind.   Luckily I could still contact him via cell phone. Even though I could no longer follow, the path of the hurricane, there was no doubt.  Hurricane Irene had hit and it was going to be devastating!
Later in the afternoon the skies cleared and the sun peeked out.  But the relentless wind only increased.  Many trees snapped and were uprooted as Irene pulled away. Scott came home exhausted and concerned.  He is the Deputy Highway Superintendent and he knew too well what they would face in the coming weeks.  Three roads washed out,  many others damaged, bridges washed away, trees down all over.  (We still have roads that are impassable.)  Directly around our house we were lucky.  No trees fell on our property.  But after Scott came home we took a ride.  I was shocked.  The damage all around was devastating.  I could not believe the amount of trees down and the extent of the flooding.
 Monday dawned , a beautiful day.  Sierra and I went up to the firehouse to take a shower. Their meeting room was full of blow up  mattresses and cots... a testimony to all those who spent two nights there, answering the record amount of calls! Roads were still blocked, trees still lying dangerously on wires.  Not too far from here entire towns were flooded out.  People were stranded in their homes , as the water flowed right through them.
It has been humbling.  A reminder of how little control we have .  A reminder of how comfortable our lives really are.  We lost power for 36 hours.  Many others around us are still out. They don't even know if they will be able to start school on Tuesday.  David's community college has closed for the remainder of the week.
These are the facts.  I have struggled with my emotions.  I was scared, very vulnerable.  I did not like being alone, but with Scott's job and the fact that he is Asst, Fire chief, the reality is that I will almost always be alone during any natural disaster we may have. Not a comforting feeling.  I feel so, for those who lost their homes and for those who lost loved ones.  One man , not to far from here, went to help his neighbor and was electrocuted. And I know that even though it was bad here, I am sure it was worse somewhere else.
Local flooding

 A driveway washed away..right up the road.

 Tree on my brother in laws house.. luckily no damage!
 Local town park where I run the smmer camp
 Usually you have to walk down a steep hill to get to the water.  This summer we had very little water to swim in...not the case now!!
 Monday.. a beautiful day!
 Sierra's tanagram creations...Love the crab!!!!She didn't look at anything to do these!

 One of many snapped poles!!
 Part of our balloon family!
Although Sierra played happily , somewhat oblivious to what was happening around us, she did say the other day that "Hurricane Irene was bad"  Yes it was.  I wouldn't want to wish this devastation on anyone else ..but it would not hurt my feelings if it was another 80 years before NY has another direct hit from a hurricane!!   As Scott always says when he puts Sierra to bed    "Goodnight Irene!!!"

Friday, August 19, 2011

Saying goodbye to Pop Pop

This has been a hard week.  Sunday, Scott and I sat by his Dad's bed while he spent his last minutes on earth.  We rejoiced at the moment when his pain and suffering ended but our hearts were broken at the knowledge that his days here with us had ended. Explaining to Sierra that her Pop was gone prompted many, many questions as she tried to comprehend it all.  My older sons especially David also mourned the man they have come to love as their grandfather. When I married Scott, his family open their hearts and their arms to my children.  His death has left a huge void in our family. His kind heart and generous spirit and his love of us all will be missed.  His funeral today was a great celebration of the life he led.  Many people from all walks of life came to bid farewell to this man who had somehow touched their lives.  Scott and his 2 brothers worked hard to make the day extra special.  The fire company ,where so many of our family, including Pop Pop , were members, gave him a fireman's send off complete with a 2 fire truck escort.  And as we passed by the firehouse Dad's fire gear sat in a chair outside the door.  The firemen's pagers went off with the message that fireman Bob H had answered his final call and then the fire whistle blew.  It was a very emotional moment.  Sierra, I think today, finally understood the implications of it all and the tears came.   Seeing her big brothers and her Dad visibly upset finally allowed her to shed the tears she had been fighting.  And the  moment I will most remember was at the cemetary when  the pall bearers, all 8 of them,( Scott, his 2 brothers, my 3 sons and our 2 young nephews,) so lovingly  carried him to his final resting place.
I am glad he is not suffering.  I am glad he is no longer in pain.  I rejoice that he is safe in the arms of Jesus.  But oh how I will miss his smile , his twinkling eyes, and the love he showered on all of us!!

                                          Sierra and Pop Pop on Super Bowl Sunday 2011
                                       Pop Pop as an angel drawn the day Pop Pop died

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pop Pop

Please keep my father in law and our family in your prayers.  My father in law has been fighting his battle against cancer for some time now,.  The cancer had spread to his brain in May and all treatment were stopped in June.  Hospice is with him and we don't know how much longer he has.  We are all heartbroken with the realization that his time and our time with him on earth is soon coming to an end.  Sierra loves her Pop Pop as do my boys and his passing will be difficult.  But it also has been difficult watching this very active man slowly deteriorate.