Mining the Good Out of a Stormy Night

Photo of rain cascading down a double-hung window so heavily that the tree branch outside is blurred and the house behind mine is not visible.

On Friday I began drafting an article I planned to use as today’s blog. About 3:00  p.m. , the Kansas City area had a severe thunderstorm. The rain poured out of the sky and the wind roared. Gust reached as much as 100mph. Trees crashed to the ground, not to mention tons of branches down. Cell towers and service went down. Electricity went out for 250,000 plus people, including me. 

Ready or Not

I live in a neighborhood filled with “mature” trees. It’s beautiful, but it’s also problematic. Those trees don’t bend with the wind. They break or fall and take out power lines. Routinely. It’s amazing how quiet the night is when no one’s AC is running.

Most of us long-time residents have chainsaws and generators and candles and flashlights. Prepared, we also know to save the power on our electronic devices. Unfortunately, many of us, myself included, use our devices during the day and recharge them at night. Yup, my phone and laptop were low on energy. 

Quiet No More

Photo of downed branches with green leaves piled on a double driveway. The branches rival the length of an SUV passing by.

The buzz of chainsaws filled the morning after air. A little later in the day, generators growled to life. I was very fortunate this time. There were many 2-3 inch diameter and smaller branches down in my yard, and my roof suffered a bit of damage. I was safe, my house was intact, and I had an ancient generator my son coaxed to life and connected my refrigerator and freezer to it. I used my electronic devices sparingly. Fortunately, reading on my laptop doesn’t use a lot of power.


I read The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. The verisimilitude of reading about a catastrophic event while I had no electricity was surreal. I cared about the characters and their journeys enthralled me. MRK is an excellent writer. I highly recommend this book. If you can read it during a power outage, it will leave a lasting impression. 

Limited Power

Photo of a room lit by a pillar candle. You can see a black tv sitting on a parson's table,  out an open window you see leafy trees, electric wires and a small portion of a house behind mine.

My ancient generator is extremely loud, and it ate gas and oil at an alarming rate. The first day it sputtered and nearly died every fifteen minutes. My handy son came to the rescue again and adjusted things so the generator ran more smoothly. At last I had a box fan, Wi-Fi and could recharge my phone and laptop. 

I didn’t dare run the generator at night. If it ran out of oil and I didn’t know it, it could be catastrophic. Without power at night, I lit candles, conserved the energy on my devices, and used candles for room lights.

Candlelight isn’t romantic when it’s your source of light for a room.

My Dogs

Photo of two Yorkies drinking from a water bowl by flashlight.

My dogs had the best…and the worst of it. They are still in the basement or the backyard for safety reasons while my son and I repair walls, electrical wiring, and repaint. The powerless basement is much cooler than the rest of the house, but it has one window that receives light. One. 

I lit a candle for them (it was in a safe place) but their second problem was the generator. It sat beside the basement’s exterior door.. Did I mention it is loud? 

To my dogs, it must have seemed a giant growling beast. They didn’t want to be near it. So, every 2-3 hours, I carried them out past the beast and into the yard. Then I protected them from the beast (waited in the yard), while they did their business, and carried them back inside. They barely drank or ate or slept while the beast growled. 

The Return of Power

At 3 a.m., fifty hours after my power went out it came back on. YAY! I shuffled around the house, turning off lights that had been on when the storm hit and plugged my refrigerator and freezer into wall outlets. And finally, we all slept. 

Today, I will get some much needed sleep, wash some clothes, and finish the post-storm clean up. I’ve tree branches that split and need to be cut down and safety power cords to coil and store and a generator to clean and return to the shed. The blog post I had drafted is still just a draft. I will post it another time. 

The Gift of Being a Writer

I know I am extremely fortunate. I was safe and had safe places to retreat to if needed. And the damaged to my property was minimal. Beyond that, experiences like this feed my writer’s brain. I’ll record sensations and data points and suppositions that will turn up in a story one day. For now, I’m going to enjoy the return to normal.

What routine-altering events have you experienced?


  1. Thank you, Terry. I have neighbors who have tree limbs through their roofs and damage to vehicles. So I feel very fortunate.

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