jump to navigation

Lessons from a Snow Storm November 13, 2011

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Personal Observations, Self-Development.

problem inl life


A perfect storm hit the East Coast on October 29th. When I first heard that snow was expected in my area on that Saturday, I dismissed it. Snow this early would surely be a non-event. Another case of Jim Cantore getting hysterical about a weather event that would pass over. And then it started to snow… What I had not taken into consideration was that the snow was extremely wet and heavy and the leaves were still on the trees—a condition that would make for an extremely dangerous situation.

This was not your ordinary snow storm

The first hint that this was going to be an event to be reckoned with was when it started snowing early on Saturday morning. It had been predicted to start at 1 PM—uh-oh. And since the snow was extremely wet, it stuck to everything, including the still-leafy trees. And it kept on snowing. About noon I began to hear periodic cracking in the wooded area around my house. This continued all day. The tree limbs were breaking under the weight of the snow. It occurred to me then that I was going to lose power and I better get prepared. (Better never than late.) So I started to cook. And just as I got out the pots and the ingredients, the power went out—not to come back on for 3 days—and that was good. Many homes were out for almost an entire week.

Turns out that Berks County PA was the ‘epicenter’ for the storm in the Philadelphia/Lehigh region. And my beautifully wooded neighborhood was very hard-hit. As I observed the damage the next day, the word ‘war-zone’ came to mind.

A chance to learn a few more lessons

Those three days were quite difficult and certainly not without their lessons. And naturally I intend to capture some of those lessons in this post.

Lesson #1

So what did I learn? First—be prepared. Yes, I was a Girl Scout—but that was a long time ago. I have re-dedicated myself to that very worthy goal. Being without electricity for three and a half days meant that I virtually got nothing done. I spent my time trying to figure out how to eat warm food and how to stay warm in an unheated house. My son helped me out by lending me a kerosene heater which I finally got fired up about two hours before the power came back. The biggest concern was how to have a hot drink. I tried heating water on my grill and destroyed two of my pots in the process. And when I finally did get the water hot, it stayed warm about 10 minutes since my house was about 48 degrees—sometimes even up to 50.

I have since purchased a propane stove and a propane lantern. My next door neighbor who is an HVAC contractor has offered to hook up a gas heater for me so that I can have heat even without electricity. And if I lose power in the summer months—I’ll go outside, I guess.

Lesson #2

My second lesson was to renew my gratitude for things I often take for granted—like electricity. Life is ever so much easier when the power is on. And I reflect a bit on that each day.

And so on…

Another lesson I learned was to listen and be more sensitive to other people’s troubles. I think I’m pretty good at that already but after this experience I think I can be even better. What prompted this was some of the stupid things people (who had not lost electricity) said to me. When I was on the third day of outage with a promise of least more day ahead, someone said to me. “Oh, well, you only have to wait until tomorrow—that’s not too bad.” That’s what you think, Bub….

So I have resolved to listen more generously when others speak about their problems.

I have reflected before that we silly humans learn our lessons during Significant Emotional Events. Try as I might I have not managed to change that in my own life. So I guess I’ll just take the lessons where they come. You?




1. Jane - November 14, 2011

Lovely post. Experience is the best teacher for so many things, just too bad that it’s often bad experiences that teach the loudest lessons. Our neighbors with two small children lot power for several days in the spring. When the hurricane was forcast this summer he drove all the way to West Virginia to buy a generator to keep a few things like the refrig and a few lights going since his family had felt your same pain. Glad that you’re back to full power in all areas.

2. Karen Talavera (@KarenTalavera) - November 13, 2011

Welcome to my (hurricane country) world. Like I’ve explained to hundreds of people who ask “what’s a hurricane like?” it’s not so much the storm that’s dangerous, it’s the loss of services afterward. Sadly, modern society today is two weeks without power away from meltdown and chaos (Katrina in New Orleans, anyone?). Hopefully thanks to your post more people EVERYWHERE will take the time to seriously reflect on this and be prepared for anything. We really do depend on a central source of power for 95% of how we live. I believe it’s time and money well spent to decide how (and if) you’ll live if that source were to at least temporarily be unavailable.

Glad you survived with minimal downside!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: