Saturday, December 29, 2012

Severe storm, power outages

Gale force winds, at first in the night with pouring rain, then later turned to snow. I have never felt wind this strong in my life. Inside the house, when the gusts come, it feels like I’m in an airplane with turbulence, and it’s loud, like a jumbo jet. Is this what it feels like to be in a hurricane? I barely sleep a wink. The house is creaking and groaning. I wake up with a start when the radio goes off at 4am – the power is out!
Kitchen window

The town, otherwise brightly lit by Christmas decorations and streetlamps all night, is black. The power comes on again briefly after an hour but is gone again at 6am. It comes back on at 7am so I get up and take a quick shower, make some coffee and charge my cell phone. As I’m in the middle of breakfast, the power goes out again and I finish my meal by candlelight. When the power comes back on at 9:30 I catch up on the news on the internet. Both generators in town are broke as is the one in Bolungarvík and the power company is juggling power on the grid to give people throughout the Westfjords an hour here and there to get things done. That explains why it keeps going on and off. Everyone is urged to use power very sparingly.

Bedroom window
The hurricane winds continue throughout the day. My windows are all covered with a thick sheet of ice as the ocean spray freezes on contact – I can’t see much outside at all. Arctic winters are dark and even during the brightest hours of the day, it’s impossible to read without artificial light. Around noon the neighbor comes up to borrow some coffee – they have a gas stove and are able to heat water. When I return to my apartment, it’s freezing – the heat is broke! The neighbors have batteries in their radio and heard that the heat all over town is out. The heat stays off for 5 hours and all I can do is huddle under the down blanket with a book and hot water bottle that I reheat at every sporadic outburst of power.

I spend most of the day alternating between dozing and daydreaming under the blanket when the power is out, and rushing around to check the news, eat, make a thermos of tea and heat my water bottle when the power is on. The power comes on around 4pm and I opt for a quick dinner, at 5pm it’s off again and stays off until night. Before going to bed I try making a phone call and sending a few text messages, but my cell phone isn’t working properly. I later learn that the phone lines were also damaged and service disrupted.

Apart from worrying about whether or not the house will hold up in this storm, I absolutely love this new kind of adventure!