Before Frankenstorm Sandy hit, I confess I was one of the doubters who thought the projections were over-hyped and a way for media outlets to use fear to increase viewership. I am not really a weather-watcher; basically, If I walk out the door and a couple raindrops hit my head, I turn around and grab an umbrella. My daughter, on the other hand, watches all the forecasts and pays strict attention to the radar projection videos. The day before the rain started, she announced she was preparing for the storm by baking 2 huge Texas Chocolate Sheetcakes. Being shut in is always easier to tolerate when there's lots of chocolate at-hand! My husband, when he took a break from cleaning leaves off the roof in hopes of preventing water damage, spent countless hours scurrying all over creation hunting down D batteries. I started to feel guilty about doubting the power of mother nature, so I filled our refrigerator and freezer with containers of water because I read that this extends the length of time before food spoils... just in case!
When the storm started ramping up, (and I realized that the media had been right), we sat down in front of the television to see if we could get any visuals about ocean surges and the deteriorating conditions in Ventnor, NJ where we have a family beach house. As soon as the Weather Channel logo appeared, our power went out. It stayed out for almost six days.
Our neighbors across the street, who always seem to have power when we don't, ran a cord to our house so we could plug in our refrigerator, a lamp in the kitchen, and chargers for our phones. By some miracle we had hot water.
Just as we had handled preparations in our own way, we all handled the power outage uniquely, too. My husband escaped often to his well-heated office; I visited homes of neighbors and coffee shops that offered light, warmth and internet access; and my daughter stayed at home, guarding the castle (which, without power, felt more like a fort to me) watching old DVDs on her laptop.
More than once we engaged in conversation about what we missed most. For me it was my treadmill; for my daughter it was the internet; and for my husband, awash in pre-election fervor, it was television... at least until he got to watch his beloved Giants lose and then he decided he really didn't hadn't missed TV that much after all.
In retrospect, what I think we should have discussed is what we liked about being without power. It would have been more positive and would have helped us to enjoy ourselves rather than waiting for and calling about power updates.
I totally enjoyed the forced break from most electronics and I especially liked not being at everyone's beck and call. But the thing that most warmed my heart were the concerned phone calls I got about our beach house. They came from friends and family all over the globe and from all stages of my life as far back as high school. Every call included marvelous shared memories of visits and stays. Shelters may come and go, but relationships and experiences borne within them are ever-lasting. Fortunately, our beach house only had nominal damage.
During the storm I was unable to conduct business because the Women's Yellow Pages is based in my home. Rather than dwell on what I couldn't do, I chose to focus on the parts of my business that I love... and what I enjoy most has nothing at all to do with electricity. Just like the beach house, it's the relationships and shared experiences that stand out. Being without power in your business could make you feel powerless, but when you have a bank of colleagues and business friends ready to help, you realize the true power of being part of a network. Computer back-ups can be done in a matter of hours; starting important business relationships can happen right now. Start today whether or not bad weather is predicted!
Ellen Fisher, Founder and Publisher who will share the amazing Texas Chocolate Sheetcake recipe if you ask.