We thought it was MARCH that came in like a lion, not MAY!
Monday night, May 1, following a lovely day, the winds whipped up around 5. We were already warned of tornado possibilities and severe thunderstorms. Around 7:30 pm, Nature rolled up her sleeve, flexed her bicep, formed a fist, and sucker punched us with wind that spun trees like lassos, and smacked us with walls of rain. Power went out, and Little House Living began for the next four days. (To read our power outage tips go here and here.)
It would be reported by The Sullivan Review as “the strongest storm in 30 years.”
It seemed our little mountaintop fared reasonably well with limited damage to property. The top 30 feet of our neighbor’s Norway Spruce spiraled down into their backyard, missing all structures. On Eagles Mere Ave, Hilltop Cottage’s deck rail was damaged, but the rest was unharmed. A garage roof on Allegheny was speared, but the house was spared.
But in fact, the area at large was hard hit. Beginning with the school’s cancellation, “due to wide-spread power outages,” the reports started rolling in of trees on wires, across roads, and damaged homes across the county. Three F-1’s and and and an F-0 were recorded in surrounding counties. And the rain poured down. Nonetheless, here at Fiddlehead Cottage, we believed the lights would be back on by afternoon.
With four substations knocked out, Penelec estimated Thursday at 8 PM–three days from when we went black. This was going to take ice. Lots of it.
But here’s where the Winter Storm Stella prep came in handy. Candles and lamp oil in good supply. Plenty of wood for fires. Gas grill fixed. A bag of ice in storage. We collected spring water from The Barn, and scooped more from the hot tub for flushing. The spa even served as a soapless bath until the third day when it cooled to unpleasant levels.
With cooking a challenge, the Laporte Firemen, in a grand display of community spirit, provided free spaghetti dinners for any who were powerless and even delivered to shut-ins! Only in a small town!
We were also grateful that the Eagles Mere Inn had a generator allowing those weary of grilling in the rain a culinary oasis. Sadly, The Barn, The Jolly Trolley Sidecar, and Country Friends did not. But The Vale in Muncy Valley was open (they must have a generator), and what a land-office biz they did between food, gas, ice, and propane!
More-or-less on schedule, Penelec got Eagles Mere plugged back on though it was apparent we were far down the list of prioritized communities, several of which were restored in 24 hours. Dushore and Laporte were the first, allowing school kids to return with only one day missed.
We here on Fern Lane were back up ahead of schedule by Wednesday night. We felt a little “survivor guilt” when we discovered most others were still in the dark until Thursday and even Friday. Grids! grrr…
Imagine the shock then, when the school sent the kids home mid-day Friday! Saturated ground and a new buffet of wind brought down more trees, even blocking the way for the bus bringing the kids up Rt. 42. Hemlock Cottage in The Park sustained the most serious damage this round with a large maple slicing diagonally across the front porch, demolishing railings, and crushing the roof corners.
Fortunately for EM, the local power stayed on. Now the food was sorted by edibility, flashlights were stored, and hair was washed. It was good to be back in the 21st Century. (Except we did like seeing our teen reading books instead of overdosing on social media.)
This post inspired us to list tips that helped us through this and other outages. It’s especially aimed at vacationers/renters who may not have much experience with Little House in the Mountains Living. Check out Pt 1: Little House Living :Power Outage Tips Tips and Pt 2: Little House Dishwashing!
Here’s to Penelec, and as always the EM crews, our heroes!
Bill and Leslie
P.S. Got a tale of your own to tell? Let us know below!