There was a big rainstorm in my old hometown one winter's day about 15 years ago. It wasn't all that cold at first but the temperature kept dropping. By the time I left work about 11:30 that evening, the streets were covered with ice. Everything outdoors was covered with ice for a hundred miles.
I was so concerned with navigating the slickened thoroughfares that I neglected to get drunk after work and I made it home safely. And I made it to work safely the next morning too. By the time I got on the road a lot of your major streets had been salted and driven on sufficiently to make them pretty easy for me to get around on. The day was overcast and cold but at least the precipitation had stopped. I bartended that day and waited tables that night. Business was slow that evening and since I was a double, I was out of there before nine o'clock. The streets were still as slick as a buttered insurance agent so I went straight home for the second night in a row. But I noticed that it had gotten warmer.
I relaxed at home. I cracked open a quart of Budweiser. I put on a good CD. If I remember correctly, it was something by Led Zeppelin, featuring the late John Henry "Bonzo" Bonham on drums. Over the din of the stereo, I could hear branches snap outside. It had something to do with things warming up quickly, affecting the ice-encrusted trees. I noticed it, but didn't think too much about it.
I awoke the next morning to a dearth of electricity in my crib. Fortunately, that place had gas heat, so I wasn't cold. I wracked my brain, trying to remember when I'd gotten a cut-off notice. I got ready for work, which took a little longer back then since I still had hair that I had to make look acceptable. I left the shed and got in the car.
As I drove down my little street, I noticed that no one had electricity as near as I could tell and that lots of tree branches were down. Some of the branches were real big and had damaged cars and buildings. I found out later that because a lot of branches had fallen onto power lines, most of the city was without electricity.
Including my work. Not everybody showed up, but those of us who did sat there in the dark. The manager told us to just hang out while he awaited instructions from the owner. We were supposed to open at 11:00. The owner called and said that if there were no powers by 11:30 he'd give up on the day and let us go home. We sat around, drank Cokes and smoked cigarettes. At straight up 11:30, the owner called. I answered the phone. He instructed me to send everyone on. And so I did.
Not a lot of setting up had been done so it wasn't long before we were ready to bail. I fixed myself a stout Jack and Coke, which I intended to ring up on happy hour the next night I worked, and chugged it down. I was about to walk out the door when the phone rang again. Again I answered. It was the owner. "Joe," he said, "Gorman can't make it downtown today, 'cause the weather's got him messed up down there." Gorman was a bartender at our other location and he lived way out in the country. "Being as how they've got powers and y'all aren't going to be open, I need you to go down there and fill in for him today."
There's been a lot of devastion in America recently, mostly in the area roughly described as "the South." While you're on the computer anyway, why not check out http://www.redcross.org/ and see if there's anything you can do to help if you're so motivated and able to. Lots of places have been hit pretty hard, just one of which is Tuscaloosa, AL. The phone number to their United Way down there is (205)-248-5045.