COLUMNISTS

Silence following aftermath of storm is deafening

Susan Manzke
Another load for the brush pile has pieces of lumber from the destroyed porch deck.

Written the day after severe weather rolled across Wisconsin on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, producing eight tornadoes, including two EF-2 tornadoes and six rated EF-1, according to the National Weather Service. One of the EF-1 tornadoes touched down near Seymour at about 6:17 p.m..

I’m not sure exactly what blew through my area of northeast Wisconsin last Wednesday evening. It could have been a tornado. I was in the basement and not connected to the internet. News reports came to me via family on my cell phone.

Currently I’m without power. This is the day after and I’m one of many thousands in this predicament. I understand the power companies are working to fix things, but with so many trees and powerlines down, it will take a long time, maybe days.

I just happened to have some battery reserve on my laptop, so I thought I’d take some of my free time to write about my experience without power.

First off, it’s just too darn quiet here. Television, which usually fills my home with noise, sits dark and quiet. My Wi-Fi is also a no-go. The DSL comes to me via the phone line and of course that’s out, too. Now, to connect with my family I use my cell phone. At least when the cell doesn’t allow us to talk I can usually Instant Message the rest of the world—I say usually because even IM is iffy.

Except for my furry four-footed family, I’m alone. I hear the ticking of my Cuckoo clock and when it 'coo coos' I know another hour has passed.

Fallen branches gathered in back of Susan’s utility cart.

There’s no burbling from the fish tank filter, or hum from a fan. The worst non-sound is the absence of the refrigerator purr. I know ice is melting in there. So far, I’ve opened the door only to grab melting ice cream. I slurped a good portion of a carton as my lunch.

Many others are a lot worse off than I am. Some have trees on homes. Others have roofs that flew into fields. I just had a bunch of branches to pick up and some of my upper deck railing came down, too.

Ginny, my sister-in-law, finally got her car out of her garage—power garage doors don’t work when electricity is out. Help was needed to lift the door. My car continues to be trapped behind an automatic door, too, until my son Russell arrives this afternoon. Anyway, Ginny brought me a gallon of Seymour water to drink.

Replacement flush water from my friend in Seymour.

I had to stop writing for a moment when my cell phone chimed. Daughter Rebecca said she is bringing me some supplies and more drinking water. I was happy to hear her voice. IM is nice but it can’t replace the actual sound of a human voice.

Russell has a long drive from Middleton and won’t be here for a few hours. He’s bringing his generator so I can plug in the refrigerator and freezer. Maybe all isn’t lost. It would be quite costly replacing all the frozen meats that are waiting for me in my chest freezer.

My oven and range are also run by electricity, so no hot food for me.

Another big problem with loss of power means no running water. Well pumps out in the country run on electricity. Flushing the toilet is a big problem without running water. Luckily, two five-gallon containers of water were left in the basement to use for such a power catastrophe. This water was stashed away for20 years, unused. Because of its age, I wouldn’t risk drinking it, but it works great for washing and flushing.

My first stash of flush water, hidden away in the old basement for twenty years.

So here I sit, listening to the ticking clock and wondering if the generator will be enough to save my food. I guess I am rested enough to return to the chore of picking up branches.

Note: It is now Sunday. I’m doing a happy dance because now I have electricity, but sadly not a landline with my Wi-Fi.

The generator saved my frozen food and Ginny’s too. Russell educated me on the how-to's of keeping that noisy machine running. The first night with the generator running I didn’t sleep well. I was afraid it would run out of gas. When the sun came up, all was well with me, the generator, my fridge, and freezer.

Night seemed extra dark during the power outage and extra quiet. The situation made me miss my late husband, Bob, all the more. Even if he wasn’t well enough to help (which would have driven him crazy) at least he would have been there to talk to me. The days without electricity would have been so different if he was here.

If you want to see real storm damage, check out any of the Green Bay news stations. This is just my little account of the storm. I was very lucky.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; susanmanzke@gmail.com; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.