A few years back I lived in a small house that was built in 1929. It had two tiny rooms, a huge kitchen and a small gathering room. The plumbing was run on an electric well, and there was no central heat or a/c. It had character, though.. it was quaint and the dear people that rented it to me allowed me to have my Sheppard-Akita mix dog.
So…what’s this have to do with the Amish?
That year, hurricane Francis struck. It sat on top of us and didn’t move for hours. It rained, the wind roared and destroyed any weak structure in its path. Fortunately, and miraculously, the little wood frame house survived.
I had done all the things you are supposed to to prepare for hurricanes, Stock up on drinking water, get flashlights, lanterns and batteries, non perishable foods…( peanut butter and canned fruit, anyone?) I felt I was prepared and organized.
The storm came… it’s pretty much impossible to sleep through a hurricane, so when the power went out about 3hours into it, I turned on my little battery operated black and white T.V. to watch updates on the next feeder bands coming through and where there was tornadic activity. The storm finally moved northwest and out of the area.After the storm, the gas stations could not supply gas. The stores had no food. There was no ice for coolers, and the tons of trash from peoples’ refrigerators and the grocers’ coolers was beginning to leave a sickening stench in the air. Bit by bit, the county began to get power, people talked about what stores had food, propane and charcoal. Lines were hours for these items. And there was no guarantee you would get them.
I had no power, no power meant no running water. No running water meant no toilet ,no washing face, or hands or (showers for that matter) or dishes or utensils.
This went on for over 3 weeks. 23 days to be exact. It so happened that this little house, on a dead-end road was considered to a an “unincorporated” section of the county. That meant it had its own unique power grid, so as the rest of the county started to get their power back after a few hours maybe days, we were left literally in the dark. The power company worked to restore the larger grids first. Understandable. People need their Wal-Mart.
During this time I was not only frustrated with the heat and humidity (low temp was 84) I was frustrated at peeing in the back yard- ( I tried to save my other functions for work) I was tired of planning to shower at family members houses across town.I was tired of room temperature meals- tuna ,avocado and lemon juice became a staple- as there was no mayo, nor a way to maintain it’s temperature. Mainly, I became frustrated with my dependence on electricity. I began to think of the Amish, who lived this way by choice. So, I went to the library (they had power) and began to research and learn how they did it.
Our power was turned back on.
A week or so later a stronger storm was headed our way. Jeanne.I prepared.
I bought a solar shower. I harnessed the rain water. I stocked up on paper utensils and plates. I made batches of Cornell bread. I ordered a washboard and basin and clothes ring dryer. I bought a Sterno stove and lots of instant coffee.
The storm came. Stronger than the first. And… the power was out. It was only for 10 days this time. It was better. I was clean. Had clean clothes. Extra water to flush the toilet. Decent bread. And coffee.
The aftermath of both of these storms was nothing like the devastation that Katrina or Andrew left behind. Nor do I dare compare my story with the true tragedies that followed these storms. I was very blessed with both storms. I was very blessed because not only did I survive, but I learned how to cope .