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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tornado at Chapin Estate

In my mind, I pictured thousands, if not tens of thousands, of readers waiting anxiously for this long-awaited post (lisa thinks a baker's dozen, max, including family). Truth being, I have been without phone, cable, internet and even electric since Tuesday night when a quasi-twister came twisting through Bethel leaving quite a bit of devastation in its wake. It wasn't as if whole neighborhoods were flattened and all the mobile homes flying through the air (a true air traffic jam because of all the trailers in the county), but a lot of big trees down and enough electric lines down to cause to real hardship and inconvenience for a lot of people. Lisa, Juan, Amy, Amy's parents and myself were down in Barryville enjoying Taco Tuesday at Cedar Rapids campground and missed the storm of century in favor of bad mexican food (hard to do), but on our way back up 55 East we could tell something had just happened - it seemed like the morning after, - lots of leaves, branches, eerie colors and lingering winds. We got back to Chapin Estate and prayed as we pushed our gate opener, hoping the system was working off a backup system or generator or something. Luckily, it opened and Juan and Lisa high-fived.

Trees were down though, and it was dark and raining hard. Within 100 yards on the private Chapin Trail Road leading into the project, a tree was down, blocking any hope of getting by this tree which was tangled in electric wires, phone wires, and cable wires. We got out of the car to check it out, - do we try and pass, or do we not and where do we go for the night? At this point we weren't sure the extent of the damage throughout the county. About that time a big Hummer - yes some people I guess still drive hummers - arrived with Steve Dubrovsky and Mike Watkins, owners of the Chapin Estate. Oddly, they pulled up to the trees, obviously decided not to chance it, and left quickly without a word into the darkness, leaving me and my pregnant wife wondering the best course of action.

So we ended up driving over to Amy's house and her barn and breakfast, and spending the night there. Even 15 miles away, still no electric - meaning no fan and it was still hot hot hot.

Interestingly, it wasn't too bad being off the grid.

Big tree with big branch broken off. Lots of 'b' s in that sentence - illiteration I think they call it.

Some trees were broken in half, other were twisted out of the ground whole.

The thing about trees is that to remove them are expensive, especially if a homeowner pays a retail weekender price. You have to cut up the tree, haul out the wood, get rid of the stump (one stump and roots can fill an entire truck), and then you have to fill the big hole the tree was rooted in. The eye of the storm seem to have gone right through Lot 45, my old house at Chapin Estate and lots of trees were done on this property. The homeowners called their insurance company and they said, with a straight face, 'did the trees fall on the house? No, well you live in the woods right? Trees fall in the woods right?" Classic - I wish I could say such things to my customers.

Here is a picture below of the electrical lines dangling dangerously. I guess it wasn't that dangerous since Chapin Estate founder offered no guidance just after the storm. Hey, what's a little electricity pulsing through the ground and trees.
It was a bit refreshing to be disconnected from email, phones, fax and electric - although no electric means no water, no refrigerator, no air conditioning. I was using my cell phone a lot and had to charge it up in my truck - so not only am I definitely going to exceed my minutes, but I was spending $4.20 a gallon to charge my phone. We had to pay some bills on Thursday and couldn't access our accounting software to see who we owed what - so we decided to hand write the checks but this entailed a calculator not run on electric so we located a solar calculator but then it was too dark in the house for it to work so Deborah the book-keeper had to keep running outside into the sunshine everytime she needed to calculate something.
The one thing we had going for us was the fact that summer was in full swing meaning it stayed light late. No news, no email, no tv. At least we had some scotch to pass the time. Or, as Lisa offered, at least we had each other. She's sweet like dat.