Lights Out!

Wednesday started out as a typical day. Extremely hot, but typical nonetheless. It very quickly spiraled out of control into a crazy series of misfortunes. Chris called me mid afternoon to inform me that he had stopped by the house and we had no water. No water? What? Why? I called the water company, and here’s the story:

We moved into the house in early April. On April 3, I scheduled the water company to come out and read the meter so they could switch the water bill over to our name. I gave them my phone number to call me, as I couldn’t wait around all day for them. They were to call before coming out so that someone could meet them. No one called that day. Or the next. I assumed (I know, not a good thing to do) that they had come out and read the meter already. I have no idea where the meter is; maybe it’s on the side of the house or something. But we had water and no cut off notices, so I thought everything was fine.

The water company says this: The water company was scheduled to come out April 3, but since no one was home, they ‘rescheduled’ for April 4th. No one was home on the 4th, so they just dropped the order.

And they did not call us. At all. Evidently, they had been trying to bill the guy who previously had water at this address, and of course, he wasn’t paying the bill because he no longer lives here. So we didn’t get cut-off notices, bills or anything else. And you’re probably thinking, didn’t you notice you weren’t getting a water bill? Yeah, I did notice, but I thought they billed quarterly, so it really didn’t bother me that we weren’t getting monthly bills.

Anyway, we had no water Wednesday afternoon. The water company said they would come back out on Thursday and turn it back on, but again, someone had to be there. So I gave them my cell phone number and told them to call me in advance and someone would meet them there.

On my way home from work, I picked up a few gallons of water and told the kids we didn’t have water, but it was temporary. No baths tonight. Brandon said, “Well, at least we still have electricity.” Right? Not right.

Storms rolled in Wednesday night. Not storms. Supercells. The winds were horrendous, the thunder and lightening were scary, and by the time it was over, 500,000 people were without power, including us. Now he had no water and no electricity. We sat in the living room, with the flashlight on, listening to the storms move on through. By 9 pm it was very hot in the house, and we decided we’d go for a drive, since we could run the air conditioning in the car. We drove through the neighborhood, not really being able to see if there was any destruction. Down at the corner, some neighbors had set up a road blockade because a power line was down in the road.

We drove to Chris’ office, which amazingly had electricity. We watched the weather and news reports which indicated widespread power outages, a couple of buildings collapsed, the roof of one of the airport concourses was now in the middle of I-70 and trees were down everywhere. And the Cardinals-Braves game was delayed.

Since we had power at Chris’ office, we slept there Wednesday night. We got up Thursday and I took the kids to daycare, which had power, and therefore, entertainment. Chris and I both went to work, where there was power. No comment on entertainment.

Needless to say, the water company didn’t call me Thursday. I called them. Three times. The first two times, they assured me they were on their way, just be patient and they’d call me. The third time, the service rep told me that they were busy with water main breaks and they would get to me when they could.

[Translation: We’ll be out much later, even though it was our own incompetence that caused your water to be turned off on the hottest day of the year. And who would have thought that the power would go off, too? What are the chances? But now, we’re busy with bigger problems, and the fact that we mistakenly turned off your water is really of no consequence to us right now. Thanks for using Water Company. Stay on the line for a short survey.]

By Thursday, friends had heard of our plight of no electricity and no water, and so we spent the night with some friends from church who so graciously opened their home (and their shower!) to us and allowed us to wash some clothes.

Friday, I didn’t go to work. I had no clean work clothes, and Chris’ mom was flying in to surprise her husband for his birthday. (They are in the process of moving up here; he’s already here and she’s finishing up her job and trying to sell the house.) We planned on driving to Mt. Vernon, IL (where Chris’ mom and husband are moving) to spend the night at a hotel there. All the hotels here were booked. We had reservations and planned to spend the weekend there. Everything was looking better. After I picked her up from the airport, another storm system came through, knocking out more power lines.

The storms rumbled through St. Louis, and . . . Mt. Vernon, IL, where they had massive power outages and storm damage. I called the hotel to verify it was still there. It was, but it had no power. Bad luck was following us, even out of state!

Fortunately, more friends offered their house (with water and electricity) to us on Friday night, but miracle of miracles, our water and electricity came back on within 30 minutes of each other Friday night. We slept in our own beds and took hot showers. We rejoiced with much rejoicing.

Saturday, Chris’ mom was finally able to ‘surprise’ her husband for his birthday. She had to tell him Friday that she was here, and he came and picked her up on Saturday. I went grocery shopping to replace all the food we lost in the power outage and washed many, many clothes.

So, that’s what’s been going on here in STL. The National Guard is here, hauling off debris and offering water and cookies to people. Our grocery store reopened yesterday, and by today had been completely restocked. However, there are soooo many more people out there with no electricity. I just checked the electric company website, and right of this minute, 348,000 people are without power.

It’s so good to be home.


One Response

  1. Wonderful to hear you are all back home safe and have water and electricity again! I think our power was finally restored today as well . . . now on to replacing food . . . and massive amounts of laundry. 🙂

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