The Windstorm of 2006

It's been a wild time since my last post. Aside from another trip to Whistler (which I'll write about later) we had a big windstorm here in the Seattle area that knocked out power to over a million households and businesses, including Microsoft and our house.

Last Thursday (the evening of the storm), we heard branches hitting the roof all night. (Our neighborhood is filled with huge old fir trees, 18-20" in diameter.) We lost power around 1:00am and woke up to find a cold house. The yard and roof were buried in fallen branches. I went out to meet my neighbors and see the damage.

Neighbor's tree lying across the street.

Next door, the neighbors lost a big tree. It fell away from the house and across the street, blocking it, and miraculously missing two parked cars and the house across the street. Nearby, other neighbors weren't as lucky. I saw at least five houses that had huge trees lying across their roofs. There were power, cable, and phone lines down everywhere and we heard stories of a nearby transformer that had blown up. On the plus side, I did meet a lot more of my neighbors than ever. Everyone was helping each other, offering whatever they could. It was nice to see, really.

Our outdoor heater bashed up.

Fortunately, we weren't totally cut off. We had a battery powered radio (with a crank too, just in case) and our Dash Smartphones. We got online via our phones and learned that Microsoft was down to emergency power only and the campus was closed (Friday was the last day I was planning on working this year, so I got an early start to my holiday.) We also learned that the kids' schools were closed (so Michael got an early start to his vacation too.)

In a stroke of foresight, Michelle figured we'd need hotel rooms for a few nights as the power situation got sorted out over the next few days. She got on the phone with Mike, who served as our travel agent, looking for a hotel room in Seattle that had power. We grabbed a few nights at the W Hotel in Seattle and were set. We stopped off at Microsoft for a bit where there was wireless and the hallway plugs worked. There was a little party of sorts going on in Michelle's hallway. Someone even set up a Nintendo Wii (yes, we allow those...), which kept me and the boys occupied for a while. (They're pretty cool, btw, but I think after Michael bashed the Wiimote controller into the wall a few times that it's not for us.)

So, we had a few nice days downtown, just us and the zillion other refugees looking for a little light and heat. We did a little Christmas shopping, saw Eragon (terrible, btw, more on that later), and played at Gameworks. Pretty fun, actually.

We moved back home Monday after the power came back on. We still don't have Internet access (our cable line is still lying in our front yard), so we're connecting through our cellphones (getting somewhere between 92 and 110kbps - not too bad). Lots of clean-up to do in the yard now, but I think the worst is behind us now. I feel fortunate that we got by so easily and were back up before Christmas.

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