The sound of generators fills the air as we push the kayaks into the calm lake. It has been a few days since Hurricane Dorian made landfall in Nova Scotia, and the power is still out in our neighbourhood. It has been off long enough for the cold packs in our cooler to warm up and the milk to start to sour. After hurricane Juan in 2003, we were without power for 10 days. That’s when most of our neighbours purchased generators. We don’t own a generator so may be in for a couple of more powerless days yet.
In the sixteen years since the last hurricane, we only had the long-term need for a generator perhaps twice, although I only really remember once. What we do own is a BBQ, a propane camping stove, and a wood stove, which can heat the entire house if necessary. A couple of years ago we managed to complete an entire Christmas dinner for nine people using the BBQ and propane stove. We also have a propane lantern, several flashlights, candles galore and a portable radio. I am not trying to be smug here. We just never felt we needed a generator before, but the topic of purchasing one has come up this week because we are not as young as we used to be and are thinking of ways to make staying in our home easier as we age.
We were fortunate this time round, with only shredded leaves and small branches to clean up. Some of our neighbours lost trees but, in general, the entire region fared better than expected. And certainly much better than the Bahamas, where entire communities were decimated, where people are now homeless and fear for their future.
Even though we are so fortunate to live where we are and not in the Bahamas, people still feel the need to criticize. By the next day, phone-in radio shows were fielding call after call from people complaining about the power company and the power grid. Others complaining about the food going bad in their fridges, thinking they should be compensated, and still others expecting the government to be more proactive or at least reactive enough and fix everything immediately. Yet if you ask these people if they would like to pay higher power rates, higher insurance rates or higher taxes, I guarantee you that the answer will be no.
I had no choice but to listen because this was the station that was providing the best hourly updates, but listening was exhausting. I must admit that I am not good with people who don’t at least take some responsibility for their own well-being. A lot of people worked around the clock to manage Dorian. We had days to prepare for this hurricane. Days to figure out what to do if the power went out. There was constant weather and preparedness information on the news and all over social media. We saw enough images of the Bahamas to realize that this could be a major weather event. The lineups at local stores were long and the shelves emptied. Most of us were getting prepared. And in the end, we all got off pretty easy, several very windy hours that mostly downed trees. There were a couple of reports of roofs being blown off; a construction crane collapsed without causing any injuries; and all the people in the city, who were not used to losing power for as long as those of us outside it do, weren’t happy.
The only inconveniences we personally experienced was having to drive around to charge our cell phones or to find cell service in order to contact family, and the lack of water because we are on a well and the pump requires electricity. Water preparation includes filling jugs and pots for drinking and cooking while also filling the tubs to provide bucketfuls for flushing. We are still safe in our home. We are cooking and eating pretty nice meals thanks to insulating the food in our freezer with a wool blanket and comforter, which kept things from thawing. We are still sleeping in our own bed. The only thing I can foresee is that I may have to drink black tea in the morning, but I will live.
Kayaking is like gardening and yoga for me. It grounds me and keeps me sane. I do all these things to help calm my agitated mind. Besides, there is not much else to do today but pick up sticks and the sticks are still there when we return. On our paddle, we see minimal storm damage, a couple of bald eagles, some ducks and what we think was a tern, possibly blown off course in the storm. Even with the noise of generators in the background it is a pleasant experience. I feel better now. So glad we turned off the portable radio and all the people who needed to whine.
Note: Four hours after writing these words, our power returned. It was out for about 45 hours. Believe me, it could have been so much worse. It could have been 240 hours. We will put away the cooler and the propane lantern and the stove with hopes that it will be a while before we need them again. The cleaning of the fridge and toilets can wait until another day. There will be sticks and leaves around for a while because it is now fall like and they are in every crevice and crack. They stick to the siding and roof. They build up in the edges of the deck boards and drift across the driveway. We will never get them all up in one go. We just do what we can. And, during all these post hurricane tasks, we may be thinking about that generator.