Sunday, December 17, 2006

There but for the grace of God

In case you haven't heard, we've been shaken up like a snow globe here in the Pacific Northwest. Thursday night into Friday (which happened to be my birthday), a massive windstorm blew in. It toppled trees onto cars and homes and left hundreds of thousands of people without power, some are without it still. One woman actually drowned in her basement, in a freak story that has most everyone I know buzzing, trying to figure out how exactly this happens.

It's funny, MSNBC being a national Web site, we usually get most of our photos from wire services, but if you click on the photo slideshow on the first link above, about half of those pics were taken by our own staffers, at and around our newsroom on the Microsoft campus in Redmond. They didn't have to go far to do their jobs; suddenly, we were the story.

Rob and I were among the lucky ones: Aside from the TV flickering somewhat during Thursday's Seahawks loss, we never lost power or were even inconvenienced. Our lights and heat stayed on, our food stayed cold or frozen in the fridge and freezer, no trees fell on our house or blocked our roads, our stores stayed open, stocked and uncrowded.

In the suburbs, or what Seattleites call the Eastside, it was a different story. Everyone we know in the burbs lost their power for at least a day, most for longer. Some were coming to our house to recharge things like cell phones and laptops, we thought some might end up spending the night. The gas stations over there were running out of fuel and had multi-hour-long lines, police actually comandeered one. Stores had no power and very little food -- I ended up pressing a barely touched gallon of milk from my own fridge into the hands of a suburban friend with two little girls when she told me she couldn't find any stores that had milk on her side of the lake. An hour later I was in my own local Safeway marveling at how just a half-hour away from the stricken suburbs, it was as well-stocked and calm as on any day of the year.

The Eastside and the city have a genial rivalry -- the short version of the stereotype is that we think we're cooler because we're urban and hip and next to better restaurants and clubs, they think they're cooler because they have bigger houses and easier commutes (work being Microsoft in most of my circles). But that was pretty much forgotten this week. You help your neighbors when you can, and you know next time it could be you sitting in the cold and the dark.


Sara said...

Thanks again for offering to take me in after that first cold night!

katiedid said...

We fortunately didn't do so badly during the storm. The winds ate part of our roof, but considering we were more worried about the trees smashing us in and killing us, it was almost a relief. Weirdly. I think the saddest thing about that last storm was the inability of rescuers to continue their search for those three hikers up on Mt. Hood. The power outages we had in this area were nothing compared to that tragedy. So sad.

Anonymous said...

We lost power for one week--after toughing it out for three nights at home, we spent two nights in a hotel and one night with friends. Then our power came back on, and what a mess! Still, I think we were very lucky--we are safe and sound!