I have to preface this blog with the brutal truth: I am kind of (ok, not kind of) a princess. So recently, on an anything-but-typical Thursday, when storms rolled through Indianapolis, thunder and lightning ensued, and a loud, cracking boom filled the air, followed by our power going out and everything going dead silent. I was nervous. No more lights? No more air conditioning? No more phone charging? No more Lifetime movies?! HALP!
This particular power outage had a strange, almost eerie feel to it. This one just didn’t seem…fleeting. It seemed like whatever happened out there, perhaps a lightning strike to a transformer, really had some gusto to it. And boy, was I right. When all was said and done, our power was out for FIVE days. There were tears, y’all. There was sweat. There was despair. And there were also some laughs and realizations. It was a doo-doo show from the start, that we ultimately learned a lot from in the end.
At the onset of the power outage, my son immediately came to me and asked (with a sweet tone but wild eyes) when the power would come back on. “Um, it should be on soon, right? Right, mommy? Right?!”
I patted him on the back and uttered nervously, “Hopefully,” but I didn’t feel good about the situation at all. And how come this came out of nowhere? I was ready for every Snowpocalypse and Snowmageddon that never happened in the past in Indianapolis, but this blindsided me to the core.
Here my son was worried about PlayStation 5 being down, and I was thinking, how in the world were we going to manage any kind of sleep in 90-degree temperatures without air conditioning or a fan? And gasp…my icemaker wasn’t going to allow me to put ice cubes in my water?! Oh my goodness! This princess knew rough times were ahead but was not fully prepared for how rough they would actually get.
Hour by hour, things escalated. We had never really been without power for more than three hours before; we were now going on 24 hours, and it felt like months. Nothing quite wakes you up like a cold shower in the dark, or the instinctive tendency to flip light switches (only to be reminded time and again there is no light), or pressing the garage door opener, thinking it might actually open, oops. And watching your phone battery slowly but surely diminish and diminish.
This outage started out with more than 47,000 customers without power, and there were no updates provided other than stalking the company’s website. Getting a real person on the line was impossible. We kept checking and seeing the little peas and carrots on the website’s map. We saw numbers go down, but not significantly, and then there were more storms, increasing the numbers. It felt surreal and unimaginable. And helplessness overwhelmed us at times.
We were kind of feeling a bit lost but recognized this outage had no definitive resolution. We were keeping the refrigerator and freezer closed so as to try to preserve the food inside. Without knowing when the power would come back on, though, we were playing a kind of “peek-a-boo” game to see exactly what was inside and what our strategy should be.
On a side note, it was at these peek-a-boo moments when I realized I buy way too many groceries. The freezer was beyond full. Some would say hoarder-level status, my friends. In my defense, those buy one, get two free Tyson chicken offers are just too tantalizing to pass up; they get me every time! And the 99 cents per pound pork chop sales. And buy one, get one free pork tenderloins. Anyways, I digress. The bottom line is we were fully stocked, locked, and totally not ready to rock amidst the power still being out more than 24 hours later.
I was determined to change that and save all the yummy food and protein. I would not falter! I trekked into our garage and, with my son’s help, pulled out every small, medium, and large cooler and freezer tote bag around. There was no room to really walk after we arranged the coolers in the kitchen; it was a Playmate and Igloo cooler war zone, and we were ready to battle. We then jumped in the car and headed for the first of many ice runs. I had absolutely no idea how many bags of ice we needed; sigh. I also was baffled by all the ice options, by the way. Big, small, medium…what in the world?! This princess just wished there was an “easy” button that said how many to buy and of what size. We settled on three jumbo bags of ice and returned to the war zone. I was satisfied at the first wave of battle, but then, it hit me: I had previously ordered online groceries. OH. MY. GOSH.
One of the biggest kicks to my shin amidst our 101 crazy hours without power was this; realizing I had already placed a grocery delivery order *before* the outage, and according to the store, it was too late to cancel. We were already worried about the original items in our fridge and freezer and whether they would survive, and now this. UGH. That grocery delivery truck was coming.
Thankfully the buy one, get one free pork shoulder butt roasts ran out, so they informed me they could not be fulfilled and delivered. It was kind of a silver lining. I absolutely did not have space or the ability to keep those large and in charge meats properly stored. But somehow, I fought back tears and found space in coolers and tried to salvage the old and new food…fruits, vegetables, eggs, meats, oh my. Dear goodness, again.
The hours without power were accumulating, and our moods were challenged. I missed cooking. I missed sleeping. I missed normalcy. This particular outage was teaching me how we ultimately take little things for granted and that little things really can be so big. Cooking yummy meals, accessing electronics, enjoying the air conditioning, having warm water, putting on make-up with lights as opposed to guessing in the dark, garage door access via a button, or doing laundry. By the way, I HATE laundry. But the fact I was staring at heaps of laundry in baskets just waiting to be done was really tough. My stress was high, to say the least. Running out to get five-pound bags of ice several times and having our kitchen and house in complete disarray took a toll; the physical clutter was making me feel mentally cluttered.
The worst was the heat, ugh, the heat! And one of our neighbors had an extremely roaring generator. Sleep was awful. I was trying to keep it together for my son, trying to stay positive by uttering, “This, too, shall pass,” but when you’re hot and sleep-deprived, that’s when emotions can be all gas pedal and no brakes. Even my poor dog was panting, looking at the fan, then looking at me, back at the fan, and again staring at me, right into my soul, like, “Aren’t you going to turn that on?!”
If I could pass along some tips for anyone else who might encounter a similar situation, here they are, in no particular order:
Be sure to have flashlights and batteries.
This should be power outage prep 101, tee hee. We discovered we had flashlights but no batteries. Our neighbors shared with us they had batteries but no flashlights. Be sure to have both! And candles and matches as well. Do you have the resources necessary if your power goes out?
Portable car chargers can help.
We didn’t want the car battery to suffer, but we needed a way to charge our phones. The portable car charger really helped us maintain our phone capabilities because otherwise, they would have died, and we would have no access to calls, texts, or communication. We tried to do the charging in spurts so the car would not be affected. I found our car chargers on Amazon a few months ago, not knowing at the time just how valuable they would end up being!
If you do not have a generator, and you really want to save your food, or at least some or most of it, you can. It’s kind of a pain, and you will have to spend money on ice (and take time to go out and get it), but in our case, it was worth it because we saved a lot of items. I did four different ice runs in our five days without power, and between the fridge and freezer staying shut most of the time, and the help of the coolers, it mostly worked out.
Seek healthy options.
Even if you are without power, you do not necessarily have to get fast food or eat out at restaurants the entire time. We enjoyed some fresh rotisserie chickens and rotisserie turkeys from the store; they come in hot or cold options and are delicious! We also fired up the grill one of the days and tried to eat up as much of the produce (corn, green peppers, tomatoes, etc.) and chicken/other meats from our big stash of food.
Stay at a hotel. Seek outside options.
We stayed at a hotel on the third night without power, and it was our best night of sleep. My dog was laying on the bed near the ac unit, just smiling at me. It was a nice way to recharge, and if it were affordable to do every night we were without power, we would have done it. Another night we went to the movies to enjoy entertainment as well as a few hours of air conditioning. I was so relaxed that I fell asleep and missed the entire movie, but oh well! That heat had zapped me.
Consider buying a generator.
A generator might possibly solve 99 percent of the problems outlined in my blog. They can be pricey, but probably worth it.
Overall, during this debacle, we had several friends and family reach out to us with support and offers for help, and that was very heart-warming. Some family time free of devices was also really special. If only it were cooler. I know we could have had it way worse, but I will say this was a very trying time, full of exhaustion from the heat.
As the power company trucks rolled down our street on that final night, I instantly felt tears welling up in my eyes. Neighbors gathered as well, and we were all looking at them like the ice cream truck had just entered our neighborhood! The workers looked tired and nodded at us from their trucks. And just like that, within minutes of them arriving, our power was restored.
Then we had to go put away all the food from the coolers, and I think that earned me a promotion to Queen status.