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Windstorm, Neighbors 9/7/2012

A windstorm came through Southcentral Alaska Tuesday night. The wind sensors died in some areas, but estimates are that it reached 100 miles an hour in some locations. That would qualify as a category 2 hurricane. Most of us were lucky, with some trees down but no significant damage. A few had trees land on their homes or cars, or had roof damage, etc., and I’m sure their neighbors and the Red Cross are busy with the people who lost their homes. We’re used to getting windstorms in the winter, when the trees have lost their leaves and there’s less to be blown around so the trees were hit harder. This time it was nice to have it warm (in the 50s) instead of near zero degrees, and it didn’t rain until the next day. Could have been worse!

We got a storm warning early that day, so I had water jugs, flashlights and candles  at hand. The storm started in the evening and lasted until early morning. By the time I got up Wednesday morning, the wind was down to a breeze and we could scout out our place. Our grill had scooted across the deck. No trees came down in our yard, which is full of birch, willow, and cottonwoods. We did lose lots of branches, and two trees next door fell against our trees to the point that they’re probably dead and we’ll need to see what to do about them. But that’s it, so we are counting our blessings. Nearby, our family members’ fence blew down, and some don’t have power yet (48 hours later). But we are all healthy.

My husband and I spent the morning clearing out the driveway and gutter, which was carpeted with branches and leaves. The air was ringing with the sound of chainsaws as people cut up trees to move off the street or driveway, or just cut downed trees for firewood. A few generators put-putted to keep refrigerators going. The next door neighbors and I watched a power line pop and arc like weird fireworks and my husband called it in. We chatted about our experiences with the storm, the damage we’d seen or heard about. A neighbor found humor in that the storm took out a tree that he’d wanted to cut and his wife didn’t, so God decided the argument for them.

One person said that if this had happened in the lower 48 states, it would be declared an emergency and the National Guard would be called in. Maybe. Here, people are clearing their own neighborhoods and  taking care of each other. Our power companies are working like mad to get everyone’s electricity back up, and the city workers are clearing the big stuff. But I imagine in a few days the only reminder will be new stumps in yards and our stories of how self-sufficient we are. We’re kind of proud of the fact that we can do so much ourselves, that we know how to keep the food cold and the candles ready.

This is not to belittle the recent hurricane in the Gulf, or say that others can’t be sturdy too. I’m just saying that we were lucky, and we were prepared enough to help each other to do without power for a few days if needed. Another reason to be thankful for my fellow Alaskans.

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I love to share my passion for Alaska and its history in my writing for young adults and their grown ups.

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