Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Ice Storm

I know this ice storm in New England was potentially lethal for everyone, but the past few days were harrowing for me. I turned 40 on Wednesday, and on Thursday night the power went out – and stayed out for almost 48 hours. The temperature was around 15 degrees Fahrenheit or less at night and for much of the day, and my life turned into a Jon Krakauer novel very quickly. With multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) everything is inaccessible (so if you’re an EMT, firefighter, hospital worker, M.D., nurse, or shelter worker, think about this). Calling 911 is generally out of the question, emergency rooms are full of toxic cleaning chemicals and scented people, and the carbon monoxide from generators or the toxins from wood smoke can be particularly dangerous or lethal (and hotels: forget about it). Because I was weak and sick going into the outage, I was suddenly like that guy in Into the Wild – picture the end of the movie version of the book – who has eaten the poisonous seeds by accident and thus orbiting around this tiny space, trying to stay warm, totally screwed. Fortunately, the power is back on, and I made it out alive. I might post more of the story at some point, but right now I’m just waiting to hear from some other sick friends who are in other parts of Western Mass. and don’t have power and/or power and phones. I just want to remind everyone to think about vulnerable neighbors this Winter, and don’t assume people don’t need more help. The kindness, action, and advocacy of both friends and strangers got me through the past couple of days (and I can't thank them enough), but it was pretty hairy for awhile, and I know how easily people’s needs can be forgotten when the world assumes that everyone can get to a shelter, hospital, or friend’s house. This video was shot some distance from where I live, but it depicts pretty much what the scene looked like here (I can’t find much footage on YouTube from W. Mass., probably because people are just getting their power restored). Beautiful, awe-inspiring, and scary:



Lots of trees and tree branches were blocking the roads in W. Mass.: