Wind Storm

By Shamus Posted Monday Sep 15, 2008

Filed under: Personal 48 comments

Perhaps you noticed the lack of posts today. Perhaps not. In any case, I’m probably well over 1,000 miles from where Ike made landfall, but even Ike’s far-flung remnants provided us with an annoyingly impressive windstorm. One of those savage windstorms that make you glad you live in a brick house, or make you wish you did.

By morning the wind was gone, along with electricity, internet service, and large parts of the surrounding trees. Everyone’s yard was carpeted with leaves, like some sort of monochrome autumn.

My house seemed to be one of a small number in the neighborhood that still had power, although I don’t know what you’re supposed to do with electricity without the internet. I’d heard it was useful for other things, but I couldn’t remember anything off the top of my head. I tried to Google it, but then I remembered, oh right.

It’s nearly evening now, and you can hear chainsaws all over the neighborhood as people carve up the fallen branches and trees into moveable chunks. Internet is back on (obviously) and everyone seems to have power again. Good show.

I’m not complaining. Many others suffered a lot worse, and a day without internet is a pretty timid calamity. Still, it drove home the point that:

  1. 80% of my day is spent at the computer.
  2. 90% of what I do on the computer requires the internet.

From The Archives:

48 thoughts on “Wind Storm

  1. Deoxy says:

    Welcome to the primary American vulnerability of the day – infrastructure.

    We’ve happily moved vast chunks of what we do onto a system with very few real safety features. It’s a bit disturbing, really. And yes, considering that a great many sub-stations, etc, are “web-enabled”, that often includes power and water.

    “cyber warfare” means a lot more now, doesn’t it?

    Sorry for your difficulties… I just heard that I guy I know from college had his parents’ house wasted by Ike, and his uncle died in that train crash out in California… on the same day. I’m counting my blessings right now, financial difficulties and all.

  2. Jeysie says:

    I feel your pain there. A few weeks ago I got stuck with five days of no internet access due to a screwup by my DSL company, and I was insanely bored after about day two, let alone by the end of all five days.

    We haven’t had a lot of wind or anything up where I am due to Ike, just bucketloads of rain. One of the good things about living in New England… I feel sorry for people down there in Ground Zero for these storms. :/

  3. Lee1255 says:

    Yeah, my wife’s cousin lives in Houston, and things are pretty bad. There’s glass falling from high-rise buildings in downtown Houston, and it’s a pretty bad scene.

    Even still, our business is mostly online, and if we don’t have internet, we don’t work. It sucks because our internet provider is awful, so I hear ya.

  4. Kris says:

    This is why we have a backup generator, two DSL lines on separate physical architecture, and are considering putting in a Satellite based ISP to replace one of those DSL lines. But my dad and I live and work remotely out of the same house. We really can’t afford to lose access or we stop making money. And that would be really bad!

  5. The Lone Duck says:

    I’m up in Minnesota, so no hurricane problems here. Most of what I do when internet goes out is either console-game related or book-related. Glad to hear everything’s hunky-dory.

  6. guy says:

    I had adventures with sump pumps. well, not me so much as my family, but i did have to help bail.

    oh, and i also lost internet, because my ISP cannot seal cables well enough to make them watertight.

  7. Gary says:

    I live in Bullitt County Ky (just south of Louisville) and our power was out for about 4 hrs with pockets here and there that where out until today. Our biggest city Shepherdsville was out until this morning. Alot of Louisville is out and they’re saying it could be a week or more until they get power back.

  8. Nick Istre says:

    Heh, I would say I’d know how you feel, being that I had the eye of a still at least Category 1 Gustav go right by me, but I couldn’t. Yeah, there were 100 MPH gusts going by outside). Yes, there were huge amounts of water, being dumped on us. Almost falling horizontally by the wind, too. You can see some crappy video of it on my blog, if you so desire.

    But we never lost power or internet. With internet, it seems I was a bit lucky, as it seems much of the city lost phone or cable. But I heard that the local municipally run power company is rated one of the most reliable power companies in the nation, and from this and previous storms, I can see why. Power was out to about 50% in the aftermath of Gustav. The Power company got up to 90% of those up in 2 days, and 100% up within 4. This is while people in other nearby cities are facing 2-6 weeks (yes, six weeks) without power…

    Still, I spent most of the day without internet. I disconnected my computers and moved the more important ones away from windows and doors to protect them. Turned out to be unnecessary, but I’d do it again if another Category 1 or 2 comes my way (Category 3 or higher means I’d be stashing those computers in the car and get the heck out of here after prepping the house…).

    Huh. “An annoyingly impressive windstorm” could be a good way to put it…

    Jersie: It’s not so bad at “ground-zero” if you are prepared for them. Hurricanes should never be considered a possibility, but an inevitability. Basically, keep a store of non-perishables goods like canned foods and water that can sustain you for several days. Keep trees well maintained, and cut them down if they become diseased if they have a risk of falling on your house. It probably would be good to have a battery-powered radio, but I didn’t have one; I kept track of the storm through my iPhone.

    Of course, I’m also not in a flood-prone area. Those that do live in such an area (like, say, somwhere in New Orleans that is below sea level… or is closer to the coast) will have different considerations, and may choose to evacuate for a much weaker storm if the storm surge look to be a problem.

  9. Sam says:

    Kinda frightening when you make those realizations about computer use. The last time I went without internet access it was for about a week and I nearly went insane. That was back in my WoW-playing days, so you can understand how I would be going nuts not being able to level up whatever character I fancied at the time. I blocked that week out of my memory, I think. I can’t remember what I did during that time.

  10. Eric says:

    The storm knocked over a 50 ft. tree in my backyard. Granted the tree was dead or dying, it still took out three other trees that were underneath it as it fell. I thought lightning struck outside our house.

    P.S. The Steelers won last night since you missed it.

  11. Ed says:

    How could you play spore?!? The DRM had no way to phone home!!! What a tragedy!

  12. Tom says:

    Hope no one’s hurt.

    Got pictures of the aftermath?

  13. Sesoron says:

    Yeah, we had something similar over here. And I thought I was safe from hurricanes in FRIGGIN’ OHIO. Alas. Lots of trees and branches down, some of which took power lines with them. We lost power last night for 30-40 minutes, during which time I was glad that, when I recently decided to pick up the guitar, I chose an acoustic guitar instead of electric. But I’d expended most of my repertoire before I turned on my laptop and fired up Audiosurf. I couldn’t help but think of Shamus when I was waiting to see if Steam needed to phone home first…

  14. Joe says:

    Yeah, I remember when hurricane Wilma (2005) came through and turned me and my family into nomads, roaming the land in search of power and internet. From South Florida to Charlotte NC to DC and back… quite an adventure. And absolutely no fun at all at the time. (although I *did* get to drive through some beautiful countryside, and any travails that give me a chance to wander about the Smithsonian again at least can lay claim to a bit of silver lining)

    I’ll also never let my wife live down sending me out for donuts in the eye of hurricane Irene (1999). I will also never cease to be amazed that Dunkin Donuts was open in the eye of hurricane Irene. And serving customers. And actually kinda busy.

  15. Claire says:

    The whole goddamned world is a mess. I’m living in FL about 20 miles from the coat, and always thinking “Oh, I’ll be fine… my lose power for a few hours, or maybe a tree will fall on my car” every time a hurricane blows through. It’s not like I’m ON the coast.” And yet, this weekend, my parents 500 miles from the coast are absolutely screwed beyond any reasonably standard of screwing.

    Can’t wait until the insurance companies fold (or, more likely, get special permission from the government to just not bother paying on their policies), so that everybody can remember this screwing.

    Hopefully FEMA will get its shit in gear before people have to (or, perhaps, finally feel that the minimum justification has been attained, if they’ve been anxious for the chance to) resort to cannibalism.

  16. Mari says:

    Living over here in the desert-y part of Texas, I’m kind of amazed that any of you nuts (Joe) actually deliberately live in places with hurricanes. I mean, the wind I can live with. We do it all the time. It’s called a tornado. But the rain part? Not so much. In fact, between Ike and that weird storm system that hit us from Nebraska just before, it’s been quite wet lately and we’ve discovered that our ISP (the phone company) apparently lives by the motto “Don’t get it wet!” How have we learned this? Since the rainfall began our internet is patchy, leaving us down for up to 12 hours at a time and up for sometimes as little as 3 seconds at a time. When it’s up it crawls and it frequently takes four or five reloads to successfully load, say, Google’s main page completely.

    So, no, I can’t say I’d particularly noticed your absence, Shamus, but it was only due to my own. Besides, I kind of think that acts of God (or global warming or whatever) count as an excused blog absence.

  17. McNutcase says:

    Personally, I think anyone who chooses to live in an area prone to 100+mph winds is insane. You should all move to California, where it’s safe from natural disasters!

  18. Jeysie says:

    @Nick Istre:

    I guess it’s that… where I am, as long as you stay indoors and keep your cupboards stocked, you’re safe during what passes for nasty weather around here. You never have to worry about your house getting trashed or evacuating or anything. Not that there’s a lot else to be said about living up here sometimes, but there’s that!

  19. SolkaTruesilver says:


    That screwing might happen sooner than you expect. The recent hurricane on the financial sector just made the insurance company less… solid than they once were.

  20. ehlijen says:

    Maybe all these natural catastrohies conspiring to stop people from being able to play spore is nothing but God’s comment on the idea of Evolution?

    Just kidding :p He’s probably only mad about the DRM schemes ;)

    Glad it was only damages (didn’t sound like there were any casualties in shamus’ post).

  21. Yeah, that was a fun storm (I’m hailing from northeast Ohio, myself, near Youngstown). I was pretty lucky all in all. Our power stayed mostly on and we didn’t lose our Internet access at all.

    We did have the power blink out a few times. My beastly computer kept running in spite of that (!!) unlike my cute little Dell in the basement, but I ultimately unplugged everything and went into DS mode since I didn’t want to have to buy myself a new PSU/mobo/something else that might have inadvertently gotten fried.

    The surrounding areas resemble warzones more than anything else. I drove through a neighborhood earlier and almost all of the traffic lights were off, with debris and fallen power lines everywhere. Most of the schools in the area had to shut down because they had no power. Even some businesses had to stay closed for the day.

    It’s kind of crazy how much of an impact southern storms can have up here.

  22. Ermel says:

    McNutcase wrote:
    You should all move to California, where it's safe from natural disasters!

    You mean like earthquakes?

  23. SolkaTruesilver says:

    @Ermel & McNutcase

    You should come and move to Canada (Quebec), you will be protected from all the worst natural disaster: Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Earthquakes and the Republican Party.

  24. Viktor says:

    All for the low, low cost of having to live in Canada. <_ < I think I'll stick to Tornado Alley, thanks. If things get really bad, I’ll go to Mexico. :p

  25. SolkaTruesilver says:


    Which low, low cost are you referring about? :D

  26. Viktor says:

    Shame. I was referring to shame.

  27. SolkaTruesilver says:


    You… are saying that it is shameful to live in Canada..?

  28. Shamus says:

    Bad idea: Political swipes.

    Also bad idea: Swipes at other countries.

    Look, this isn’t going anywhere good and will not bring joy to anyone. Let’s not go there.

  29. Viktor says:

    Sorry. I’m Texan. It’s in our nature to think we live in the greatest state/country/planet, no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary. Won’t happen again. At least, not here.

  30. Shamus says:

    For those who wanted pictures of the aftermath, my wife has a few:

    The really impressive damage happened to our neighbors. They have robust, healthy trees that were ripped apart by the wind. We have old, sickly trees that survived with naught more than a few dropped branches.

    I really do need to have those trees down. I’ve been putting it off because it’s so danged expensive. And I’d rather have an XBox 360. But I suppose a few more months without an XBox is better than having a tree fall on the house.

  31. DaveMc says:

    Well, one thing you can do with electricity but without the internet is to play single-player games . . . for the moment, at least. (This just reminded me of past rants about the absurdity of having to go online to access single-player content — being concerned about that probably looks more important than ever, after an net-free day!)

  32. Shamus says:

    Viktor: Thanks so much.

  33. SolkaTruesilver says:

    I guess since I was the one who opened fire, I also should have been the first to apologize. I haven’t though somebody might take that sort of joke seriously.

    Anyway, I am always fuzzy about hurricane insurance, Shamus. Will you be covered?

  34. HeatherRae says:

    I just got power on last night. We lost everything in our freezer.

    The level of hate that I feel towards our power company right now is bordering on disturbing. I suppose it’s due to their attitude towards myself and my neighbors.

    Next door neighbor has a young autistic son and a newborn. She’s on food stamps. All the food she bought with her food stamps? Rotting in her freezer/fridge. The heat, and the strange noises, and the changes in routine have been stressing her son to the breaking point. She calls up our power company (SWEPCO for anyone interested) and begs the person she talks to to send someone out to fix our power lines. Literally, the only thing keeping us from power is a single transformer, we even know what it is – because we saw it blow. The people in front of us have power. The people behind us have power. The people further up the street have power. We’re the only ones without. She explains this to the lady, explains her situation, how she isn’t going to have food to feed her baby if the power doesn’t come on soon, that she can’t replace the foodstamps she already spent to buy groceries for the month, that her son is literally being made sick by the situation and she’s worried she’ll have to take him to the hospital. The power company’s response?

    “Well, we don’t restore power based on necessity. We do it based on ticket number.”

    And that, my friends, is why regulated electricity needs to be stabbed in the face.

    (Is my current bitterness leaking out? LOL I don’t have any food right now, and I don’t have any money to buy food. It’s lovely, really.)

  35. We go to Galveston once a year, every year and I have friends in Houston, not to mention I’m waiting on an affidavit back from someone there.

    I wish you well. You’ve probably missed the fact that the demise of FASA and the demise of Ensemble are both related to successes they’ve had rather than failures. What a mess, though I just blogged about it.

  36. SolkaTruesilver says:

    [I]And that, my friends, is why regulated electricity needs to be stabbed in the face.[/I]

    I remember in Quebec, during the great freezing rain storm 10 years ago, a huge area’s power infrastructure was completely wreaked, and that kind of situation happened a lot – I was in the middle of it -. A whole month of problems here and there, and the people got together to help..

    I… I don’t mean to be rude, but at the time, people who had power (my family’s remote members lent us a generator, so we were the only in out town area to have power) helped those who hadn’t, providing shelters. We also got the biggest freezer of the neighbourhood to put people’s food in it so it wouldn’t freeze. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t nice, but at least, no one was left to rot.

    If everybody around the woman has power, why no one has helped? I know the power company has some sort of responsibility in all of it, but it’s also a situation where human cooperation should kick in..

  37. Lady Kat says:

    Apparently, everyone here should drop everything and move to New Jersey. We got the tail end of some of one hurricane or another up here(I honestly couldn’t tell you which, I don’t keep track of things like that), but the rain and wind weren’t bad enough to knock out any vital services or stop me from, oh, I don’t know, going outside and dancing in it.

    Don’t look at me like that, it was FUN.

  38. Roxysteve says:

    Mmm chainsaws. I have four, two of which actually work without endangering the legs of the user.

    I can prove it too.

    When the leccy’s on but the net’s down, time to break out those games that don’t require online handshaking just to get the splashscreen up.


  39. JoeTortuga says:

    I’m in Columbus, and we still have almost 50% without power and more without internet. Work is still up and running, but I don’t have power, and so my website, email,etc is all down too. They’re saying 90% of us will be back online by Sunday.

    Thank goodness one of my friends has power (but even she doesn’t have internet yet).

  40. Viktor says:

    Count yourself lucky. My yard is full of oak trees. Taking even one down usually burns through 2 chains and a Saturday, if we’re lucky. I’m so glad I’m at college and my brother’s the one who has to handle that. :D

  41. Vao Ki says:

    Isn’t storm season fun?

    I live in SE Michigan myself, so hurricanes don’t scare me much, although this one is causing floods even here (lucky for me it’s not in my immediate area). I feel for all of you dealing with this, and furthermore with the organizations who are responsible for aiding you (FEMA, power company, government red tape in general).

    The most we usually have to deal with here are blizzards (been a while since we got a really nasty one), the occasional tornado, and construction season (Michigan has only 2 seasons, Winter and Construction).

    Not to say I’m living in a winter wonderland up here. Our economy is horrible, even compared to the rest of the US. But when disasters strike, such as the hurricanes of the last few years, I count myself lucky.

  42. McNutcase says:

    My comment about California being safe from natural disasters was silly, by design… I know full well we get earthquakes here. No doubt those of you where the ground stays put think I’m nuts for choosing to live pretty much right on top of the Calaveras fault…

  43. Roxysteve says:

    [regulated electricity=satan made manifest] No, that’s why the damage mitigation process of that particular electricity company needs to be “stabbed in the face”.

    Anyone with more than one memory cell should know what happens when you deregulate an essential service after what happened in California. You get cartels and price fixing because the service isn’t something people can walk away from and the “competitors” know it.

    Put three music stores in the same street and CD prices fall. Put three electricity companies in the same state and prices soar. Even the phone companies are suspected of price fixing in certain areas where competition is illusory and infrastructure investment poor.

    Wind and solar won’t pay off in my area of the USA either. That leaves fuel cells, which I’ve been looking at but which are way too expensive at the moment. For the situation you and your neighbour are in, the best suggestion would be for you each to kick in for a shared generator to run essential electric-powered devices.


  44. gorbashin says:

    Hurricanes aren’t too bad if you don’t live near the coast or in a flood area and stock up on food.
    For the less wealthy of us(myself included), a weeks supply of canned food/fruit is easy enough to stock up for. Best to put it all in a box and stick it in a bedroom closet. There’s a D-battery powered fan you can buy for pretty cheap to help you keep cool at night so you can sleep. Also, over the counter sleep-aids wouldn’t hurt either. Fill some containers with tap water before the storm. Get a small barbeque pit and several bags of charcoal. And the most important part…

    Booze. Lots of it. Because when you have nothing else to do but sit around the house waiting for roads to open and power to come back on, booze is your friend. Just wait till AFTER the storm to get good and drunk.

    Oh…and renters insurance. A good policy will cover ‘foodstuffs’ lost due to natural disaster and only costs 5-15 a month. They’ll deposit the value of your lost groceries straight to your account, so you can duck the whole FEMA foodstamp line.

    Oh, and hope your neighbors don’t have generators. Nothings worse than not having power and trying to sleep in the heat with the constant whine of a generator going off next door and the knowledge that the noise-makers are more comfortable than you.

    Now, all this is easy for me because I don’t have kids. I am clueless as to how parents of small children cope without power. I know just enough about kids to know it must be very trying, and my sympathies go out to ya’.

    Back on topic…I hear you about the interweb. We went 8 days without power and 10 without internet. So I would sit around the house, think of something, go to hop online to look it up, facepalm, and go sit back on the couch. It was maddening.

  45. Kevin says:

    Ike missed us more or less completely, but here is an account of our fun with Fay, the storm just before Ike.

  46. Heph says:

    Ah, the wodners of living in a hurricane-free, earthquake-free, flooding-free country. Hurray for Belgium! And I have to say that, indeed, i’m always amazed by the amount of people who choose to live in places where they can expect stuff like this…and then don’t prepare for them. Not talking about places where it’s a freak occurance, but some people live in places that get hit every year, so, you’d imagein taking some precautions. Oh well. Anyway, good luck to everyone who needs it.
    Now, to go back to my *cough* DRM-free version of Spore that doesn’t require the net to play…

  47. Patrick J McGraw says:

    Another Columbus, Ohio resident here. Our power was just finally restored after 44 hours without. This was especially problematic for me because I am a kidney patient on dialysis, and need electricity to heat up my dialysate fluid.

  48. says:

    The longest time I was without power was maybe 3-4 hours (a tree fell on a pole and broke it in half so the state electric company had to replace the whole pole, not just the power lines). Indeed, it’s a great thing living in a flood/earthquake-free region :D
    Two years ago a pretty hefty storm split a small apple tree in half, that’s the only disaster in my lifetime that I can remember of. :)
    I had an picture with the results of a pretty nasty storm (in the nearby woods, a storm broke about 200 20-meter tall pine trees in half in an straight line, it looked like an crashlanding which wasn’t), if I find it, i’ll upload it.
    Glad to hear you’re ok, Shamus.

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