I was at home working on Friday when my phone sounded with a special weather statement alert. The Ottawa area was under a severe storm and tornado warning. If I am being honest, my first thought was that I was going to enjoy the sound of rain, and be entertained by the thunder and lightning show. I have always loved a good rain and thunderstorm. As the wind picked up and things started to really get blustery outside, I decided to text my daughter to check in to see where she was know she was likely to be either at university or on her way home via public transit.
While waiting for a response, I look outside at the backyard and my lilac trees are bending over and almost touching the ground. The fence is rattling and shaking and I decide to go outside to bring in some cushions and secure some of the backyard furniture and decorations. My phone chimes with a text from my daughter saying she is indeed on a bus, already as far as Fallow field station. She shares that everyone’s phone’s alerts went off at the same time. It was a little eerie. She was OK and confident she would be home in 10-15 minutes. I text back a heart emoji and continue with the few tasks outside. The wind continues to gain momentum and I can see that the fence has now given away under the pressure. It’s time to go inside.
As I get myself inside, my daughter is also coming in, and I can now relax a little with both daughters safe at home. My husband is working late for staff training, so I connect to let him know we are all home safe and see how things are going there with a quick text. Power out in the much of west end of town where he is, a tornado reported in Dunrobin area and he is being activated for the city’s Emergency Response and Lodging.
It’s now time to start to take this alert a little more seriously. As I am beginning to gather some basic supplies such as candles and our lantern our power goes out. With the darkness of the sky from the storm the house is fairly dark at just before 6 o’clock at night. So, we light a few candles and sit down together at the table.
The evening was a pleasant one, filled with stories, laughter and some quality old school games. We snacked on munchies and played monopoly for a few hours. Still oblivious to the severity of what was going on all around our city. I checked in with other family members, and called we called it an early night.
With daylight came the reality of the situation for many people within the Ottawa area. Mother Nature had absolutely ravaged areas of the city and surrounding area, creating chaos and damage unlike that which has been seen in our area. It was like out of a storm chasing movie, except this was real and heartbreaking for so many. We are fortunate that with the severity of the storm and tornadoes that there were only a few critical injuries with no fatalities. Certainly, the loss of property and personal valuables for many are heartbreaking.
We know are aware of reality, and are utterly thankful for only having lost power and a small section of our fence during the wind gusts felt in Barrhaven. With no power, the typical plans for the weekend have now changed. Leaving me with ample time to reflect, ponder and write.
Note: I would like to first extend my thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by last week’s storm. I recognize that my lessons and reflections are nothing compared to what you are experiencing and what you will be continuing to face in the coming days, weeks and months ahead. I would like to thank each and every first responder - fire, police and paramedics who worked tirelessly to keep our community safe. To the many hydro workers who got the power back on in record time considering the immense damage and insanely dangerous conditions, thank you. To their family members who were home without them during the storm, thank you.
When the power goes out and your world becomes dark, it is surprising the number of things that actually become illuminated.
Lessons by Candle Light
I consider myself a person who lives life with gratitude on a daily basis. This event has been a catalyst for further reflection and appreciation. For my family, who continued to check in on each other. For neighbors and community members who have gone above and beyond to support and help others. The list is too long to include, but my heart is full.
It’s Time to be Present!
Living on ‘auto-pilot’ isn’t actually living. In not being able to complete my to-do list for the weekend, I was forced be present and fully engaged in each moment. I was able to connect with myself and my daughters.
Being Unplugged is a Gift
For the young adults in my house, this may not be viewed as one of the gifts. They didn’t appreciate not being able to instantly connect with friends, binge watch their weekend TV episodes or play their electronic games. There were times where they didn’t know what to do, or even said they were bored. It didn’t last long however; as the board games came out, the crafts and art activities and even books.
I was able to witness and observe my daughters get back to basics, and connect with each other. I enjoyed the opportunity to slow down. Focus on the simply things.
Magic happens when you Slow Down & Simplify
I am very grateful for having the opportunity to explore my world and develop life skills through both my wonderful parents and in guiding throughout my childhood and youth. Life skills involving basic survival skills through lots of camping, decision making and leadership opportunities. Most importantly the mantra to: ‘Always Be Prepared’
We had everything we needed to survive without power for many days, mostly due to the copious amount of camping supplies we own. This allowed us to be self sufficient and able to help others in the event it was needed.
Of course, we aren’t perfect. I have a list of emergency items and preparedness tasks to ensure that any future scenario we are even better prepared. Lessons learned and shared from others who experienced much more than a simple loss of power.
Did you experience any lessons by candle light? I would love to hear from you.