"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dispatch from the Disaster Zone

I wasn't planning to blog today but...some people might need to know that I'm still able to.

A couple of hours ago a powerful storm passed over the Lodge, but even so I had no idea what had occurred only a couple of miles to the south and east of here. I was unaware of the violence and impact of this weather event until I heard radio reports, which prompted me to turn on the television.

In addition to torrential rains, windstorms, and lightning, we were visited by what might have been a tornado. Reportedly 50-100 homes in my town suffered damage. One, on the next closest lake to our little lake, is completely demolished. Trees are knocked over, roots and all, or snapped like toothpicks. Power lines are down. People are trapped in their cars.

The Governor, who shortly arrived on the scene, was flown in and out in a State Police helicopter and is still on the scene. He saw the damage from the air and says hundreds of homes are damaged and many collapsed. He promptly declared a State of Emergency in 5 counties. (We own property in 2 of them.) As best I can tell, 7 towns are affected. (We own property in 2 of them.)

The "tornado"--if such it turns out to be--passed over about a mile or two east of the Lodge and swept due northward, leaving carnage in its wake, as close as the mountain across the way from the one in our backyard, and as far as Wolfeboro--the town adjacent to our town and village on the Bay.

I've phoned our neighbours at the cottage next to ours on the Big Lake, and they are well and safe. There, as here, they experienced heavy rain and lightning and wind, but no damage. There, unlike here, the power is off.

I'd planned to drive up to the cottage this afternoon with the dogs, but when I heard the weather reports (which did not, of course, include a "tornado"!) I decided to stay at the Lodge till tomorrow morning. As it turns out, I couldn't have got there anyway, the highway is closed in several places. And may continue to be, depending how the road crews are doing.

I had a subcommittee meeting today, too, but I wasn't sure whether the road south was passable, and I knew the major highway, my westward route to the Fish & Game Department was either closed or clogged with traffic and emergency vehicles. I don't even know if the meeting took place, but I phoned in that I wasn't coming.

The Chap, trapped in an all-day meeting, heard rumours of what had happened during his lunch break, and phoned in. My mother saw a report on CNN or MSNBC (both had coverage) and phoned to see if I was all right.

And of course, I've been phoning around myself, checking on friends.

The images of devastation being broadcast on our local television station are heartbreaking. And terrifying. There's already news of one comfirmed death in a collapsed house and optimist though I am I'm prepared for news of injuries. There's a house-to-house search/welfare check underway. Up by the Big Lake, the high school will provide shelter to those who can't get home or whose homes are damaged.

I feel fortunate and blessed. I grieve for those who have suffered property losses, and worse. And I felt somewhat useless, until I started a clothing collection. The Red Cross is probably going to need it.

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