hurricane addendum

In my previous entry, I noted that my condo and I had been relatively unaffected by the hurricane. On Saturday afternoon, though, when Jeff and I went walking outside to get something to eat, we discovered that the front of the condo building hadn’t been so lucky; three trees on the front lawn had lost a number of large limbs and were leaning badly. A crew was on hand to begin the process of cutting them down and removing them. And, at the end of the street a utility pole in front of an apartment building was leaning precariously. Deciding to drive to a diner rather than eating in the neighborhood, we found the first traffic light up the street not working and orange safety cones set out to prevent left turns onto that side street.

Today there are half a million people in the DC metro area alone still without power, so we really were very fortunate not to lose power or water. In Richmond it’s even worse. My mother has running water but no power in order to boil it, as directed by the County; power to the hospital was restored on Friday, but they only restored water there very early yesterday morning. The utility company is stating that they only expect 75% of those affected to have power by this coming Thursday. Fortunately, my sister is driving to Richmond today, and she’s taking Mom additional bottled water, a cooler full of ice, and a battery-powered radio; Mom’s had only two candles and a single flashlight with which to weather the past four days. Yesterday, she was able to get her first cup of coffee in three days; she’d been drinking warm Dr. Pepper in the interim in order to keep her caffeine levels high enough to prevent withdrawal headaches. She started to venture out on Saturday, but there still were trees across the roads and no working traffic signals, so she parked the car at the hospital and walked the block back to the apartment.

Dad is doing ok. His temperature, from the pneumonia, has been up and down. Currently it’s not terribly high, but several times over the past few days, especially without working air conditioning in the hospital, they’ve had to pack him in ice because his temperature had gotten dangerously high. He’s not yet conscious again, but now that the storm has passed and they’ve restored power they’re again planning to start bringing him back out of sedation. Mom reports that they took out the ventilator tube for a short time on Saturday, and while his breathing muscles were able to work a little (they’re not, in fact, completely paralyzed), his breathing was so labored that they had to put him back on the machine.

All the doctors continue to stress that this is going to be a very, very long recovery process, so we continue to wait.