Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mother Nature, the Great Disruptor

Electricity is good, very good.  We take it too much for granted.  At least until it's gone, and then we moan and groan and scream and call the power company to get it back.  Mother Nature doesn't care, of course.  She just does her thing anyway, the bigger the better (at least, in America where that is an actual belief, I think). 

Last Friday, first in the wee hours of the morning, and then at the height of DVD viewing in the evening, Mother Nature raged in the form of powerful storms that hit the metro.  Was this event on national news?  A major metropolitan area had sustained a direct hit from Mother Nature's fist, not once but twice.  Over 500,000 customers were without power after the hits.  Over 800 trees had been split, uprooted, and otherwise mangled, felled by Mother Nature's breath.  She also enjoyed tormenting the trees by ripping branches of varying sizes off of them and hurling those branches at other objects like houses, streetlights, power lines.  She pushed trees over onto houses and cars.  It's astounding that no one was hurt or killed.

How we respond to a natural disaster says a lot about us as communities as well as individuals.  The power company, Xcel Energy, wasted no time in beginning the assessment of damage and the repair operations so that the largest number of people  would not be without power for long.  The repair crews worked long hours, overnights, eyes on the sky to insure no more storms sneaked up on them.  But there's only so much humans can do and only so much time in which to do it.  Natural disasters are a true test of patience, of going with the flow.

Minnesotans enjoy a reputation for being community-oriented, "nice," courteous and helpful.  I suspect that there were many opportunities for residents to lose tempers at first responders or insurance adjusters, or rage at Mother Nature, but they know better.  Natural disasters have their own time.  Everyone should have power restored by this evening.  Mine returned yesterday morning. 

For individuals, a natural disaster challenges ingenuity, creativity, courage, and patience.  Not knowing how bad Mother Nature had hit us because of the power outage, I assumed that the power would return sometime Friday night.  When it didn't, I began to feel frustrated, annoyed, and above all, powerless.  The restoration of my electrical power was out of my control.  Accept it.  Find other things to do, which I did.  I grew to savor the silence but not being able to cook.  I slept surprisingly well after the first night.  At the hardware store, the clerks listened patiently to customers' stories and contributed their own -- a moment of sharing that also comforted.

Credit: MPR
And for 5 days, the Twin Cities acknowledged a new group of heroes: the people who worked for the power company on repair crews.  Thank you to Xcel Energy and their repair crews!

Today, I work at my computer, and at the same time, run a fan and the AC.  My fridge hums.  The clocks all work.  Life is good.  How quickly we forget......

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