Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Derecho

Good morning!  It's been a long and largely difficult summer this year.  Day after day of bruising heat; the garden has suffered.  And so have we.  Last evening, for the first time in over two months, we were treated to a spectacular sunset amidst a cool backdrop of light breezes from the north.  This instead of hiding out in the house to deflect the intense heat.

Compared with close-to-one-hundred-degree temperatures and punishing winds, last night was paradise.  For the first time I really felt like the oppressive and menacing weather was going to relent.  At least for awhile, anyway.  Mother Nature is unhappy with us.  Our carbon footprint is way too large.  Global warming is real.  Climate change is real.  The elements have combined in an evil fashion.  Our yard is filled with downed trees; one of our chimneys blew off completely and punched holes in the roof on its way to the ground.  Our neighbor's roof blew clean off.   We were nine days without power. 

Perhaps our biggest loss was that huge amount of pork sausage we put in the freezer.  But nevermind.  Despite the 100-mph "derecho"...we are doing just fine.  Really, we are...but we're wary.  All of us are.  Waiting for the next "big one."   It's a new term, this "derecho."  Rare, in fact.  Only happens when the forces line up in a particular order.  I can vouch for the fact that it's awesome.  They sent electrical crews from all over the country to our little neighborhood.  Five HUNDRED utility poles were demolished.  Snapped off about 25 feet above the ground.  Same way with the myriad downed trees....all broken off at about 20-25 feet above the ground. 

Nine days without electricity is challenging.  But we made out just fine. 

The one thing we learned here is that we are NOT prepared for disasters.  We've always had such a benign climate.  Sure, we experienced the odd hailstorm, or severe storm.  But here in the quiet old soft-shouldered Appalachian mountains, we've always felt safe.  So when disaster struck, we didn't have an infrastructure that was prepared to deal with massive damage and downed powerlines.  But, we came together and helped one another.  Our newly formed neighborhood association reached out to connect one another...and that was good. 

This occurrence has opened the door to a new era of caring and cooperation right here in our corner of the world.  So, overall....the big storm taught us lots of lessons we needed to learn.  More on this in another post. 

It's been so long since I posted anything to this blog that I almost forgot how!  How are you all, anyway?  Did you get caught in the derecho? (BTW, if you don't know what a derecho is, you can learn more about it by going here: 



  1. Welcome back, Elora. You've been missed. We were fortunate with the storm; the worst passed to the north of us. But the village has lost a bunch of mature trees over the summer, a dozen or so just this past weekend. But the deniers are still out there, although this year's weather has been exactly what the climate models have been predicting to result from global warming. The earth is flat!!!! Jim

  2. Hey, Jim! So good to hear from you!! Glad to know you were "overlooked" by the derecho. What a mess!! Between the thermometer registering 97-degrees, day upon endless day...and the threat of more severe storms coming our way causing us to look over our should from time to time...it's kind of taken the starch out of me. Treading water, I guess. But it's time to get at it again. The Neighborhood Association that MM and I started last October came into its own. It's proving to be a needed organization, with a tagline of "Neighbors Helping Neighbors." I've peeked into your blog from time to time and have enjoyed it as a welcome breath of sanity! Wonderful work on your part.

    Thanks for checking in and not scrubbing me from your blogroll!!


  3. Good to hear from you again, Elora. I am sorry you experienced so much damage. We had some damage here, but the worst damage was from a storm on Sun. morning at 11:00 which caused our congregation to have to move to the basement quickly and it flattened many, many more trees than the Fri. night storm. Here on the farm we had many wild cherry trees down and fences broken. We did what we had to on Sun. afternoon to protect the cattle, but most of the mess is still there as the Farmer's back will not let him use a chainsaw for long. We had to transport 600 gallons of water to a herd of cattle for 7 days because there was no electricity at one farm.
    I am grieving today over the sale of our sheep flock yesterday since I cannot take care of them by myself and the Farmer is no longer able to assist with that. I miss them so much. I am so used to watching them graze each day.
    Take care and may we all have moderating temperatures for the rest of the summer.
    Farm Gal in SW VA

  4. My Dear Farm Gal in SW VA,

    I so sympathize with you with regard to losing your sheep. I've had to vacate a farm because we couldn't handle it after MM had a tractor accident, years ago. He's regained his health, now, but at the time, we were forced to leave the agrarian lifestyle, the centerpoint of which was our 500+ ewe flock. My whole life as a writer, farm girl, dog trainer, photographer....all went poof. No grazing sheep, nothing, really, but a suddenly empty life. It was hard. Very hard. Can't give you any advice. One suggestion, maybe...? Get close to the products of sheep; buy fleeces, start spinning and exploring fiber arts. You may catch hold of something good. I did. And, oddly enough, we're contemplating getting a 30+-ewe flock of Romneys. Who knows!! We're crazy, I know!

    Best of everything. I so love hearing from you. Please tell me more about your farm as you go forward...


  5. I meant to add another thought, here:

    It's one thing to "store" and "enjoy" enough water for oneself and family; it's quite another to be able to engineer emergency systems to feed cattle, two hogs, twenty chickens, and five dogs. We caught rainwater off the rood; I re-cycled wash water to the dogs and pigs (no soap added, just stove-heated water; it was quite the challenge. Doing dishes is an art, especially when one is caught with them unwashed in the dishwasher. It's a real motivator, keeping dishes in the dishwasher washed, not just stored. All in all, we collected around 100 gallons via roof-fed rainstorm catchments. Just enough to keep us level. The chickens had four ice cream containers just below roof runoffs. It's amazing what one can do WITHOUT a generator that costs $25/day. If you aren't thinking about emergency preparedness....it's not too late to start. Thanks for your post, again, SWVA Gal!