Famous last words: "Maybe it will blow over."
The snow started around 8:00 Friday night. Sometime between then and 8:00 Saturday morning, the power failed. Apparently a very widespread outage, according to Appalachian Power — 28,815 customers in Kanawha County still without power as of 11:40 this morning, which is 27.4% of Appalachian Power's customer base in the county. Including us.
The temperature in the house dropped throughout the day Saturday, but we managed to stay bundled up and relatively warm. Compared to the barely above freezing temperatures outside, 61° is downright toasty. We actually spent a large portion of the day napping. It really would have been nice to have coffee in the morning, though — I developed a rip-roaring headache from a lack of caffeine. I had no idea that addiction could be so strong. I think a non-electric coffee percolator will be the next kitchen appliance to grace our household so we can brew it on the gas stove (or any heat source, for that matter) without electricity.
As the day darkened and turned to evening, I got a bad feeling that the power failure was going to last longer than I'd hoped. I whipped up some Hamburger Helper (on the aforementioned gas stove) knowing fully that the kids would poke at it a little and not eat much, but I wanted to kick a little bit of heat into the air and into our bodies for those who chose to partake. With dinner over and night in full swing, we settled into our respective sleeping areas — hoping the power would come back on in the middle of the night as mysteriously as it had vanished the night before.
I woke several times during the night — once to a loud crashing sound coming from the bedroom, the source of which I never identified — and once to what sounded very much like a coyote yipping outside.
This morning, still no power... and a temperature in the house of 54° and still falling. There was a definite chill in the air at this point, and getting warm was becoming difficult — perhaps another contributing factor to my restless sleep. By now our landline was out too (only the second time I've experienced that in my life), and our cell phones were entering their death throes. After some discussion with the Mrs. and some logistical planning, we decided it was time to abandon ship and schlep down to her mom's house, where power, heat, and coffee could be found in abundance. We packed up a few days' worth of clothes and essentials, gathered up the kids and the cat, cell phones, chargers for everything which had died, and hit the road in both cars.
And driving along with Katie in the passenger seat, the cat wauling in his carrier in the backseat, and trying desperately to find a radio station with a news update, I stopped at Brenda Lee belting out "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" on V-100. It was an absolutely surreal moment, one of those movie moments where the protagonist either has an epiphany or loses his mind. And within that moment, I realized two things: first, 2009 is coming to an end; and second, as years go, it's pretty much been a shitfest. I'm glad it's almost behind us.
But for now we are safe and warm, basking in the glow of the Appalachian Power plant in Glasgow, WV. And I guess we'll swing by the house occasionally over the next few days until the power is back on, then head back and assess the damage. I'm pretty sure the refrigerator's contents are going to be lost, and maybe part of the freezers' as well — though the deep freezer may pull a lot of things through fairly well.
Looking back, I think leaving the house for a few days was the right decision. The electrical grid near our house has always been a little strained, and the power tends to be off longer than you would think. The previous owners had a generator — I suspect installed in either 1993 or 1996 — which, unfortunately, they took with them. But it's a pretty good indicator of how things have gone in the past power-wise. Here's hoping it will be a long time until that decision is forced upon me again.