As I entered the neighborhood on a rainy, gloomy Thursday evening in late May, a plethora of tree limbs, leaves and branches met my wet, well-worn tires. I encountered more debris as a power truck passed me by on the other side of the road. The crunching sound of my automobile smashing twigs and pine cones mixed with the rain made my heart pound a bit. After I was away at my daughter’s gymnastics class for just one hour, I quickly discovered that a massive rainstorm plowed through the area.
“This couldn’t be good,” I thought to myself. When I came upon the road leading into my subdivision, there was a fire truck blocking its entrance. A tree had fallen on the one line that feeds power to the subdivision in which I live. I know this drill all too well. I’ve been living in this house for 17 years and in Georgia for 22 respectively. Once something like this hits, it takes the dedicated workers at the power company several hours to restore electricity. Believe me; I have worked crazy hours for the better part of the past 28 years. I feel their pain to some degree.
There I was along with my neighbors on this spring evening, out of power and out of choices as to how we would enter and exit the neighborhood. I took the long way back to my house from another direction. A tree’s branch was blocking that road. I had visions of leaving the car and taking on the role of television’s MacGyver. For those of you who never followed the TV show, Mac Gyver used raw materials to overcome obstacles. I felt like the television character: a person on a mission who needed to get around Mother Nature’s wrath. The good news was that there was room to squeeze by on the road as the rain was pounding our car roofs. Fellow post-storm drivers were quite courteous letting vehicles take their turns getting around the large branch which looked like it would take an army to remove.
I was quite nervous as I approached my house which very well could have had trees taking up space in it. As I meandered around the remnants of pine trees, I made it back to the house. The roof, windows, siding and yard were festooned with leaves. Branches and twigs were lodged into the wet Georgia red clay.
I entered the humid house. The silence was deafening. I opened up the windows to let the then-cool air in. Late evening light gave way to total darkness. Flashlights became my best friends. As my daughter cleaned out her backpack under the limited light, I couldn’t help but stare out into the night. I thought to myself that this could have been much worse like the devastation that took place only a few days earlier in Joplin, Missouri. As a video editor, I worked with the footage and interviews coming out of that tornado-ravaged area. I was and still am, haunted by those images. Yes, I experienced the after-effects of the twisters that skipped through these parts 13 years ago, but I just couldn’t believe what happened in Joplin. I digressed, came back to the present and gazed at the light pollution to our south, where other power customers had electricity. After being in a news blackout until morning, I learned that a great deal of the metro area was equally devastated. As I drove to work, I heard that there were some fatalities from the storm. I was at a stoplight, once again, staring out into the darkness looking for answers instead of light.