Monday, February 02, 2009

What Global Warming?

This was written last Wednesday when things were at their worst here. I didn't get power back in the Fortress of Solipsism until last night, Sunday, which was nearly a week after this all started. More than 100,000 homes in Kentucky are still without power.

This is how the world ends. In ice.

December 21st 2012 came early in Paducah, Kentucky.

Right now I’m living through what the governor of Kentucky has called a state of disaster. And I certainly wouldn’t disagree with him. Because it is.

A massive ice storm blew into Kentucky (as well as a few surrounding states) and wiped out pretty much all of the power in the areas where it hit. The only reason I’m able to type this is because I’m in one of the few places in Paducah, in Western Kentucky even, with power, the office building where I work.

Not only is the power out but most of the phone lines and internet are down as well. If you need to call the cops for an emergency you can’t. The phone lines aren’t working and neither are cell phones.

And the roads, Jesus, the roads are downright anarchic.

Driving home last night was like driving through downtown Beirut. Paducah looked like it had been pummeled with bombs. Power lines hung windshield level and huge tree limbs and even whole trees lay across the roads, all caused by the weight of accumulated ice. At times I didn’t think I would be able to make it home through the natural disaster obstacle course, made even more deadly by the fact visibility was low due to everything being ominously dark and rainy.

Here’s something you probably won’t notice until it isn’t there anymore, because I didn’t. Street lights make it a lot easier to see at night. When they’re not working in a place where you’re used to having them it’s hard to even find familiar landmarks.

For me it was like driving through a war torn area in the fucking Twilight Zone.

That feeling has not changed except for the fact I’m not driving.

I don’t know if Kentucky is on the network news or not right now, because I haven’t been able to watch TV due to the whole not having power thing, but I’m betting it is.

Let me tell you what it’s like to live through this shit. Last night when I did manage to make it home by taking several detours, I entered a dark and cold house with no power. I sat down and lit a candle. The only sound I could hear as I watched my breath in the candlelit air was the sound of trees cracking and huge crashing noises as giant limbs fell and hit the ground and, at times, my house and garage. And it kept happening over and over. It was spooky and at times, when it actually did hit the house, downright terrifying.

It’s not really a sound you can go to sleep to easily.

So I had the brilliant idea of going back to work where there was power and heating and no huge trees falling apart above my head. This involved navigating the maze of death back to work, made easier by the fact I’d already driven through it once and knew what to avoid, which was mostly just roads with trees around them.

I made it back to work without dying and just as I was walking in the power cut off. I cursed God for not existing and giving me someone to blame for this crap, but the power kicked back on after a few minutes and I was saved from boredom, paranoia, and fear by distraction.

I spent the next few hours in the comforts of modern man, heating and powered lights and computers and The Wire. I was of course without the internet as I am now even as I type this. I miss the internet and World of Warcraft and piracy and all things good in the world.

The bad thing about going back to work to enjoy all the stuff I didn’t have at home was that I eventually had to go back home because I didn’t really want to sleep at work. The road maze back home at 4 AM was made even worse by the fact that not only had more power lines and tree limbs fallen making roads I’d driven on earlier impassable, but it was snowing so visibility was even shittier than it was at midnight.

I could have been intelligent and just gone to my parents where there was at least heat from their gas burning fireplace and kerosene heater, but I chose the stupidity of braving out the cold in my own home while the giant tree hanging over my house disintegrated and threatened to fall all through the roof on me all night. Like I said earlier, this was not an easy sound to go to sleep to. When I finally did go to sleep I’d wake up to that familiar sound, like tiny gunshots going off, as the limb snapped followed by the inevitable crashing noise as it either hit the ground or shook my house.

And for whatever reason having home owners insurance is not really comforting as your house gets destroyed by a tree and there’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it.

I heard my phone line snap at one point, though the power line seems to have escaped the carnage so far, except for the fact it’s laying in the yard still attached to the pole and my house, with three huge limbs on it. The power line to my garage was snapped as well.

Somehow I finally managed to sleep through the chaos and cold for a few solid hours only to wake up today to more limbs on my house and garage, my neighbor’s new wooden fence crushed in several places by tree limbs from my yard, and three inches of snow on the ground as if the ice just wasn’t enough.

I never thought there would be a time I preferred work over my own house, but this is apparently that time. Why go home? I can’t think of one good reason except to feed my cat.

Tonight I plan on sleeping at my parent’s house even though they’re almost out of kerosene, because at least they have a natural gas fireplace that isn’t going to run out. Oh, did I mention that Paducah is currently out of gasoline because the two gas stations that had power are now out and having to get the police to turn angry people away? We’re also out of kerosene as well. They’ve also stopped all open gas stations from selling diesel fuel to anyone except city trucks involved in the emergency clean up and repair effort.

Another thing I nearly forgot to mention because there’s so much crazy shit going on right now is that the governor of Kentucky has issued a statewide curfew. No one is supposed to be out driving after dark. I have a letter from my work place to be out after dark because I work for a financial institution that must remain open so the few places that are open can do their banking and credit card stuff. I’m sure the main reason he’s issued this curfew is because of the possibility of looting. This place is a looters and criminals wet dream right now. The cops are too busy dealing with the chaos of the storm to deal with anything. It’s not really a pleasant thought knowing no one is watching my house right now. My neighbors have been acting more and more like they’ve lost all touch with reality.

This is from one day without power.

Can you imagine how people here are going to be after seven to ten days of this which is what I’m hearing is going to happen?

Think I’ll go smoke one of the last cigarettes I can even get since there’s no place to get any more.


AndiMAC said...

I think Id rather deal with Hurricanes than ice any day.....Hope that power comes back sooner rather than later.

Smotlock said...

I have power and cable at my house despite the fact that my power line to my house is only about two feet off the ground and the cable line is actually laying on the ground. I have no land line though so I've been forced to betray everything I stand for a get a cell phone.

My biggest concern at this point is getting someone to come cut down the giant limbs that are hanging from my tree that could fall at any second and do more damage.

I got lucky and most of the damage to my house was cosmetic though my unattached garage has a limb sticking through the roof that I have to get fixed.

Still it was nearly a week that I didn't have power at my house and like I said, some people in Kentucky still don't have power. There's people who live on the same street as me who still don't have power and we're in the city. The rural areas have it much worse and it's gotten cold again. It had actually warmed up to the fifties for a couple of days.

sara said...

A couple years ago we had a devastating wind storm in Washington that had a very similar outcome. Trees and power lines down everywhere, massive, long-term power outages, tons of homes damaged.

It really was incredibly eerie in the first few days, before any cleanup could take place. It looked like a war zone. It really did.

The night of the storm, I was lying in bed in my new apartment, listening to the howling wind and the sound of trees crashing. Then I heard this loud, fast ping-ping-ping-ping sound. I had no idea what it was until I got up the next morning and saw that all of the power lines had come down at once, all in a row.

The sound was the lines ripping loose from the power poles and slamming into dozens of cars in the parking lot. There were downed power lines everywhere. One was directly on top of my car, even.

Some guy actually stepped on a live line and was killed. Many other people were killed when they used heating sources in their houses that were actually meant for external use only. The build up of carbon dioxide or whatever poisoned several such families.

I had to live in my office for a week, and it was such a fucking nightmare. No one should be exposed to that much fluorescent lighting. I think it did something to my brain.

It's really freaky when you realize how easy it is to completely derail our modern lives.

sara said...


I swear to god, you should get an iPhone. If you've already betrayed your inner-Luddite and gotten a cell phone, go one step further and get an iPhone.

It is seriously the coolest device I've ever gotten my little grubby paws on.

Also, I need more fun people to follow on Twitter. I have no fun people.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the Beirut comment stop me in my tracks of reading.
It is not a good comparison comparing your city with downtown Beirut. Beirut is a beautiful city.
My son spent last summer there. It is not bomb ridden and destroyed.

Smotlock said...

Just pretend I wrote Baghdad.

Anonymous said...

wow. i lost the bookmark to your site ages ago and in a flash of brilliance, recalled my delicious password - and found this.

we had a wicked ass ice storm here years ago... and now we are pretty used to it i guess. i mean, who ever thought global warming could be so cold!


Anonymous said...

Sir, you are, without a doubt, The Shit. I started reading your blog about four years ago, and have been a fan the whole way through. Keep up the good work, man

Ali said...

I like your blog. :) Write some more, please.