Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane day ride

Yesterday was the day Hurricane Irene hit, and we certainly saw some effects of it here -- a lot of rain and some gusts of wind at the house. But nothing like the various scenes of devastation I saw when I opened up my computer this morning. It seems like Vermont was harder hit than we were, with a lot of river flooding, historic covered bridges washed away, and so forth. A friend sent Jeannine a photo via email today, a shot which her son took of a place in Greenfield, MA at which Jeannine and I swam a few weeks ago -- the concession stand was almost completely under water.

The storm effects were so relatively mild at our house yesterday, though, that I decided to see if I could get in my daily bicycle ride during one particular lull in the rain in the early afternoon. Driving into Northampton, I didn't see much in the way of damage, although in a couple of spots, medium-sized trees had come down across the road, but someone had already cut them up and cleared the way.

When I got to Mirage (where I keep my bicycle) I put on my raincoat, and decided to switch to shorts and sandals (with no socks), as I suspected I might get a little wet. And I did, but not in the way that I was thinking, exactly.

The streets in Northampton were almost deserted -- very few people out and about, and almost no cars.

 It was a little eerie, but it made for easy riding. I'd settled on my favorite route, the dirt roads behind the bowling alley, as my path on this hurricane day. The rain was light, almost just a sprinkle, and the air was surprisingly warm. Well, warm-ish.

As I expected, I encountered some large puddles on Dike Road, the first part of the dirt road loop, but no real flooding or impassable areas.  It was actually kind of nice, though I was a little concerned that the storm effects could kick up at any moment and I would get hammered. But that didn't happen.

I had gotten almost to the end of Dike Road when I came across a small car stuck in a deep puddle, and there was a guy behind it trying to push it out. I offered to try to help him with it, an offer he gladly accepted, so I jumped off my bike and waded into the thigh-deep water. Unfortunately, one of the reasons the car was stuck was that the engine had died and wouldn't restart, so all that we had was muscle power. After about five minutes of struggling, we realized that we were not going to get the car out of there. (It might have worked if his wife and two kids had gotten out of the car while we were trying to push it, but that suggestion of mine fell on deaf ears.) I left them to wait for someone they knew who lived nearby and owned a Jeep which could pull them out.

By now, my lower half was pretty well soaked, but at least it was just my shorts and sandals, which wasn't so bad. I went about another half mile before deciding to turn around. I had started thinking that maybe I should head back to the site of that stuck car and offer those people some help in case their friend was unavailable (I'd driven my truck down to Northampton, and could have been back with it in about twenty or thirty minutes). But just as I reached them, their rescuer in the Jeep arrived, so all was well (or so I assumed -- I didn't stick around to see the actual rescue). As I was biking away, I took this shot with my pocket camera over my shoulder -- you can see the car stuck in the puddle in the distance.

And today, as I write this, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and you would be hard pressed to imagine that there was a hurricane yesterday. Here, anyway -- I guess we were luckier this time than some other parts of New England. -- PL


Mark H said...

I saw some footage from Vermont where the roads where washed away. I was surprised at how much flash flooding they had up there.
We where not hit to bad here in central MA (North Brookfield). I had a huge poplar tree come down across the driveway. When it fell it took down a couple small oak and pine trees with it. It made for a big mess. Nothing that a chainsaw and a few hours of work could not remedy.
I'm a little bummed that my peach tree was split in half like a wishbone. It is in the center of my yard and, it is one of my favorite trees on the property. It will survive I'm sure. It just looks awkward now with half of the tree gone.
Other than a few fallen trees and a bunch of leaves making a mess of the yard we did not receive any real damage. I was out in the latter half of the storm clearing the fallen trees in the driveway.
I went the next town over to Brookfield after the major part of the storm had passed. It was strange to me that in Brookfield there was barley any sign of the storm passing through. Most yards barely had any leaves or branches down on them. I thought it strange how much worse it was for us when the next town over barely looked touched. Weird!
We did loose power hear for 26 hours. I had to stay up all Sunday night feeding gas to our generator. I had to keep power to the sub-pump or the basement would flood. I did not mind much though. I did get a chance to start reading "Conan the Cimmerian" by Robert E. Howard by candlelight.
Seeing some of the footage on the news I'm grateful that it was not so bad here. It could have been worse.
I have to admit that it is pretty awesome that you chose to go out for a bike ride on Sunday. You even tried to help a stranded family! That is pretty cool!
It's good to hear that You and Yours fared well through Irene.

Meal said...

The Housatonic was near to overflowing over here. The last couple days of taking my daily walk have shown dozens of felled trees that somehow all managed to miss the power lines. Though from what I hear, Mass. is lucky to have power; half of Connecticut is still without.

By the way, is there a good place to contact you outside the blogsphere? I'm part of the planning committee for the upcoming Anime Convention in Pittsfield, and wanted to ask you if you were interested in making an appearance.