Friday, October 28, 2005

Thursday, Oct. 27: It won't end.

3 AM: panic. It is now 52 downstairs and I cannot get warm. I have three shirts, a bathrobe, two pairs of socks, and slippers on. I have a blanket drapped over my back and one over my lap. The orange juice is warm, I don't dare eat anything from the refrigerator, and the cats are miserable and follow me everywhere. I still have water bottles for the cats and the Coke won't go bad. The toilets are alright: my bag system for collecting toilet paper has worked well. This is the first test of the system of decorative hooks on the wall to hold plastic grocery bags. I started up the computer to play some Sudoku but the battery was down to 47% and it immediately shut itself down and won't wake up. I went back to bed and slept until 7 AM.

I had nightmares: Amy is in the backseat of the Saturn wagon, younger than now. We are driving from Glover to Barton and a Vermont Transit bus is speeding towards us when it catches the edge of the road, going over on its side, sliding, spewing brown smoke, and breaking apart. I know it is full of older people who need help, and some may have even died. I scream to Amy to run back to Glover and call 911. She leaves the car and runs off and I wake up. I am so cold. My feet hurt. I bury my hands in the cats that are under the covers and sleep again.

I dream of students who carry miniature houses in their arms. The houses have lights on inside them and I need to find out how they got power. But I can't ask because the people on the bus are my priority, and nobody else seems worried! The men at Currier's say they will wander on down soon. I can't find Amy to find out what happened when she called for help. I drive off again. The Barton ambulance squad is at the bus but people are directing traffic, not rescueing others. I drive by and go, I am waking up.

I am too cold to sleep any longer. It is still too early (7 AM) to bother others and ask for help, so I settle down with my book. I decided that I would moving to the shelter today. They said they would pick me up. Perhaps I could persuade them to help me get my car. Amy calls at 8 AM saying she is coming at 11 AM to pick me up and get the car and bring me to Newport. I am to pack. It is too cold to pack or get dressed, so I continue reading until she comes. She makes sure the cats have enough food and bottled water. She packs up the freezer, which is unfreezing, and the refrigerator as I dress and pack a few items. The village says there may not be power until next week.

The heat in the car is delicious. I turn it up high and I still cannot get warm. My car is fine. There is still snow on the windshield. The bar is empty. We drive into Newport and I am surprised to see that there is barely any snow left there. I am quite upset about leaving the cats. But I can't tolerate thinking of spending another night in the house in the cold and dark. The cats will have to survive somehow. At Andy's house I watch the news (Meirs withdraws her nomination, ten thousand are still without power, maybe until next week) and my soaps. I sleep through most of the soaps. My feet will not warm up. The dogs are so noisy and the cat is a pest. I am definitely miserable about abandoning the house and the cats. We call the village and there is a chance that power will reach me this afternoon. So after Andy leaves for the gym I take a shower. My feet finally warm up. I wait until 4:30 to call the village again, and they are sorry, but no, no power until Saturday.

At this point I lose it and begin crying. Andy has returned. I am upset that Sophie and Scout sleep in the kennels on radiant heat concrete. They don't have pillows or beds. I am upset that the geese don't have a coop to stay warm in. I am not fit to be around other humans, so I pick up my bags and leave and refuse to discuss it with anybody. I get to McDonald's and have some awful food on the way home. There is no power when I get home, so without talking to the cats, I turn around and go to the Red Cross for help. At least in the village I can come home at three in the morning if I feel the need. I can walk around. I can pout.

The Red Cross workers are wonderful. They understand my dismay and smoke with me outside. We all trade stories. Tammy and her daughter Brittany are there. They have power and heat but no food. Nobody has any food. We have tea and conversation all evening. We read. FEMA is here. The governor was there before I came. The village electric workers came in after dark and check their list. I was not re-connected. But two houses below me are. So probably in the morning I will have power. I knew that my neighbors with the horses packed up and left about 8 PM last night, but they are not here. I ended up being the only "disaster victim" that stays the night but the Red Cross workers stay. There are five of them: Barton firepeople and son, daughter and granddaughter and an EMS person. I fill out the paperwork and decide where I want my cot. I have complete freedom to come and go as I please as long as I sign in and out so they know I am safe. They keep half of the lights on for me so that I can read. I meet more neighbors from Cole Road; John and Mary. There is a hot goulash supper. But by 10 PM I can't stay up any longer and read on my cot and eventually fall asleep. They turn off the lights at some point and I don't wake up until 3 AM.

I think it is 80 degrees in the shelter.

Click on photos to see them full size.


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