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Location: Middle of Nowhere, Northern Ontario, Canada

Sunday, July 23

A Green Sky is a bad thing

First, sorry Weltek. I hadn't thought about your "picture" being on top during my entire vacation. Here, have some cheese curds from Quebec and some fries and gravy to go with them. *grin* This story should be long enough to bump it down to the bottom.

Now, onto the news. Our vacation started out simply enough. We had a great weekend and had lots of plans for the week. Until the sky turned green on Monday at 6pm. At 5:45 pm the power went out at the cottage. We were just about to fire up the bbq. I had the potatos, salads and mushrooms ready to go when out went the lights. I went out on the deck and looked across the lake because there was a severe thunderstorm warning. Over the tree tops I saw what looked like smoke. Hmmm. As I looked again, I realized that it wasn't smoke but a mini-twister of water pulled up from the lake. The wind gusts were really picking up and the sky was black and nasty looking. The mini-twister of water scared the bejesus out of me and I ran back into the cottage to tell Dave. He looked outside and the wind was getting extremely strong. He yelled to me to close all the windows in the cottage. Our cottage sits on blocks and has no basement to hide in during scary weather.

Once we managed to get the windows closed we stood by the kitchen windows that look out over the lake and into the screened porch. The sky turned an eerie green and the gusts of wind were unbelieveable. Like I've never seen before in my life. The whole cottage was shaking, although, not quite as much as Holly or I. I watched as the rain drove in horizontally through the screened porch and soaked the inside windows. The lightning was wicked. Five and six strikes at a time. A dead spruce tree beside the cottage broke about seven feet up and hung there swinging back and forth for a few minutes before it finally came crashing down towards the front of the cottage. It landed within a couple feet and that sent me into a panic. You could hear other trees cracking and we have some massive trees very close to the cottage. I immediately began thinking of a safe place to hide. I took Holly and crawled up into the lower bunk bed in the spare room. I knew it was a very sturdy place and thought it was the best spot. Still not feeling completely safe though, I though of putting on my snowmobile helmet just in case.

Dave, trying to keep me calm, turned to humor. He came in the bedroom and said, "Holly, I don't think we're in Temiscaming anymore." It was funny afterwards, but it didn't cheer me up much at the time. Then he completely ruined my happy place by telling me that sitting so close to the panel box might not be such a good idea. He RUINED my happy place!!!

I could tell that he was worried too but trying to keep Holly and I calm. The wind was unreal and hearing trees cracking outside left me waiting for one to come through the roof. It was terrifying. After about 20 minutes of this, the wind began to die down and the rain eased off and finally stopped. We cautiously ventured outside to see what had happened and tried to find batteries to power the old radio we found. The radio didn't comfort me though as they were reporting major damage in North Bay and surrounding areas. This was a HUGE storm. Power was out in all of North Bay, roofs were missing off of businesses and transport trailers had been blown over.

We saw people walking down the road and when we went out to the end of the driveway we found a large tree hanging on the power lines and another tree across the road. After hearing how bad the damage was in North Bay we knew we had to head home and get the generator because power wasn't going to come back in an hour or two. The people walking had moved the tree across the road so we headed out to see if we would be able to get all the way home. I'd heard that the highway was closed because of trees down but we had 4 wheel drive and thought we might be able to make it around them.

The highway into Temiscaming was littered with huge trees. We had to drive around at least 10 of them on the highway and we hadn't even made it to Ontario yet. The actual town of Temiscaming didn't look bad at all so we were hoping that it wasn't going to be too bad. As we crossed into Ontario we found many more trees on the highway and on top of the power lines. Many of the poles were snapped like toothpicks and there were wires hanging everywhere. I was driving because Dave felt like he was getting a migraine. With the wicked barometric pressure change I'm amazed that it never developed into one.

We pulled into our little town and were completely shocked by the carnage there. So many huge trees down. So many power and phone lines down. It looked like a war zone. Thankfully we didn't see any homes damaged. How they weren't I still don't know. There was a line down across the highway and cars were driving under it but the truck couldn't go under it without hitting it. Dave assured me it was safe seeing as there was no power in the lie so we scooted under it. We made it home and found a few trees down, but no damage to our home or garage. We loaded up the generator and packed up the food in the freezer and fridge and headed back to the cottage. At the store we heard a number of stories from people we knew. We filled up the truck with gas - they had a generator going to pump gas - and then made our way back to get set up for the night.

By the time we made it back to the cottage the trees were all removed from the highway. It's amazing how quickly people come together to get things done. There were extension cords running everywhere but we finally had the fridges and freezer running along with a light or two and the tv and satellite dish. I watched the weather network and the local news to hear what was going on. The phone was dead and even the cell phone was showing no signal. At 10pm we finally sat down to eat our steak, potatoes and salad. We went to bed with the generator running right outside our bedroom window. By the time morning came around, I had decided that it was going to have to move if I was going to get any sleep during the next couple days.

Tuesday morning dawned bright and sunny and looking out over the lake it was hard to believe what had happened the night before, except for the trees laying on the lawn. We made breakfast on the deck on the bbq and I went over to check on one of the ladies who lives alone two doors over. It turned out it was her birthday and I told her that Dave had the coffee on and that made her day. We sat on the deck and her and Dave had coffee and we chatted for a while. We told her that we'd bring the generator over to run her freezer and fridge for a while later in the day. After a trip to town to pick up a few things and another run home to pick up a few more things we were back at the cottage. Around 4pm we took the generator in to our friend's house to run their stuff and while we were there their power came back on. We were sitting on their front deck and the hydro trucks were driving down the street so we clapped and gave them a woohoo. They didn't see us and I suggested that the next time maybe we should flash them to get their attention. *grin*

When we arrived back at the cottage we were told by other neighbors that when the power came back on in town the tree beside our driveway had lit up like a Christmas tree and the live wire broke and was sparking in the ditch. They were on their way to call the fire department but as we watched it there were no fires. We hooked up the birthday lady and her neighbor hooked into it too. By 9pm we were hooked up again and I got to catch Rock Star on the late feed.

We made sure the generator was moved away from the bedroom and had a better sleep on Tuesday night. Wednesday we decided to go for a drive and see how the repairs and clean up were going. We'd heard that the highway between North Bay and our house was unbelieveable. As we drove down the highway we began to think it would be at least a week before we had power at home. The phone at home was working so I called and checked on my parents and sister. They were happy to hear that we were okay. We ended up visiting other friends in the next little town and heard their stories about the storm. Everywhere you went people were talking about it and nothing else. The storm covered over 300 kms of straightline damage. No tornadoes but a ton of microbursts that completely flatted huge areas and left others relatively untouched.

We stopped at home and emptied everything out of the fridges and freezer, unplugged them and shut off the main breaker. There had already been a number of fires due to things left on after the power was restored. During the day we made plans to go check on another friend who was out in our old campground during the storm. They rode it out in their truck down at the beach while many trees were falling around their campers. When we got back to the cottage we ran into the hydro crews and about 10 minutes after getting there, the hydro came back on. Just over 48 hours at the cottage. The trip to the campground was unreal. Some areas were flattened and others untouched. We saw campers with trees on top of them, through them and others perfectly fine. As scary as it was in the cottage, I would have shit my pants in the camper.

That night I had a really frightening nightmare. I had to wake Dave up and have him talk to me for half and hour before I could go back to sleep again. I decided that on Thursday we were not going to talk about the storm or go looking at any more damage. We spent a quiet day at the cottage and just relaxed after a couple of really hectic days.

Friday was a nice day too. We went to our friend's house for a bbq and birthday party. It was quiet but a nice change. Yesterday we puttered around the cottage and cleaned up the trees that had fallen. Around 5pm we headed out on the river to fish. Dave caught one keeper so we had it for breakfast this morning. Mmmmm! The best news was that by Saturday night at 7pm the power was back on at home. Such a relief for so many people. We were fortunate. We had a generator and we had the cottage where the power was only out for 48 hours.

So this morning we packed up and prepared to come home after our week of vacation. It certainly wasn't boring. I'm glad we were on holidays when this hit because getting to work would have been a real hassle without water or power.

This storm was a real wakeup call to us all. We get snowstorms and icestorms but this was the first major wind storm ever in our area. I can't even imagine how people handle living in tornado prone areas. *shiver* On Thursday there were storm warnings again and we did have more thunder and lightning but thankfully the wind wasn't anywhere near as bad as Monday. I was extremely nervous just the same. It amazes me how people pull together in times like this. It makes me proud to see how these little towns manage and take care of each other.

Back to work tomorrow morning. I'll never forget this week of vacation. I'll try to post a picture or two sometime this week.

Stay safe everyone.


Blogger Swami said...

I left a long message earlier, but Blogger ate it. I hate that!

Anyway. I'm glad you are okay. Green sky is bad, for sure. The safest place to be in a tornado or high wind condition is your bathtub, with a mattress pulled over the top of the tub. People have survived the toal destruction of thier houses while hanging out in a tub.

Mon. Jul. 24, 02:44:00 p.m. EDT  
Blogger bobdechemist said...

I think you need a vacation to recover from the vacation.

Mon. Jul. 24, 03:20:00 p.m. EDT  
Blogger Seana said...

Holy heck, lights!

What a harrowing experience. Poor Holly. I'm glad you and Dave are OK.

What a vacation!

I did like the part about everyone pitching in together to get things back to normal.

*hugs* and *smooches*

Mon. Jul. 24, 03:45:00 p.m. EDT  
Blogger MTW said...

Wow! *edited to remove unfunny joke*
Glad you're okay! :)

And I figured out all the pics below except for the skirt ones and those? I just don't wanna know! *smile*

Mon. Jul. 24, 08:47:00 p.m. EDT  
Blogger Bravie said...

Holy crap, Lightsy. *hugs* So glad that you are okay.
Now i know. Don't eat green snow and watch out for yellow skies. *grin*

Mon. Jul. 24, 10:05:00 p.m. EDT  
Blogger HistoryDetective said...

I agree with Bob. A vacation from your vacation is in order!

Mon. Jul. 24, 10:11:00 p.m. EDT  
Blogger Puffy said...

What an experience! I'm shakin' in my boots (well, I'm barefoot, but you get the picture). I'm glad that you're all ok. This weather is starting to suck big time.

Tue. Jul. 25, 05:51:00 p.m. EDT  
Blogger ~Nutz said...

Oh crap! That had to be scary! Glad all is OK now.


Tue. Jul. 25, 07:22:00 p.m. EDT  
Blogger mm said...

Poor Lightsy! So glad you are ok!!


Wed. Jul. 26, 04:28:00 a.m. EDT  
Blogger Jen said...

Yikes! I love a good storm, but that sounds way too scary. Glad you're alright! *smooch*

Wed. Jul. 26, 12:05:00 p.m. EDT  
Blogger lights said...

Well I've almost made it through my first week back to work. Yesterday was the hardest. Needed a caffinated pop to get me through it.

Things are getting back to normal around here. We're heading to the cottage after work tomorrow and on Saturday night we're going to Mattawa Voyageur Days. It's a small town festival with great bands. Dr. Hook is playing on Saturday night and I just have to see them.

Swami, no tub at the cottage but I'll remember that if we're ever at home when a storm hits.

*makes mental note to keep Carey out of the green snow if she comes to visit*

Thu. Jul. 27, 07:10:00 p.m. EDT  
Blogger miamicatt said...

Holy shit, Lightsy. I'm glad you're back and I'm glad you're safe.

Sat. Jul. 29, 12:22:00 p.m. EDT  
Blogger mysticwolf said...

Wow! Glad you were okay and neither house nor cottage were damaged. Tornados and their cousins can be scary stuff. {{hugs}}

Sun. Jul. 30, 08:25:00 p.m. EDT  
Blogger Bravie said...

I don't like your new work schedule. That is all.

Tue. Aug. 08, 10:03:00 p.m. EDT  

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