Or not. Last week my great aunt and I were going to go to Sears in the mall to get my eyes checked. My glasses have been broken for a while now, and I haven’t had a real eye exam in over 5 years, so I am in desperate need of some new frames and a new prescription. We ended up not going because Cynthia heard on the news that it was going to storm. It ended up briefly raining that evening. We finally went yesterday. The news had called for rain again, but only scattered showers. So we ventured out. Getting to South Hills Village is even more complicated than it has been in the past. More and more bus and street car services are being cut, so now it usually takes a street car and a bus both ways. First you have to go downtown than catch the street car that goes all the way out to South Hills Village. Or you have to take the street car halfway to SHV, then take on the rest of the way. Like I said, either way you have to do it twice, because there are almost no street cars going all the way there anymore. Luckily, there was one a little after two, so we caught a bus and went a ways to Mt. Lebanon because Cythia didn’t want to walk up all the hills to got to the street car near us. We waited about 20-30 minutes both times for the bus and street car. When we got to the mall and into Sears one of the people working there said the eye doctor was at lunch and to check back after 3. So we went to get my Visa gift card first. I always get Visa gift cards twice a year, once with my birthday money, and then in the early spring with my Christmas money. I’ve been doing this for years and never had a problem before, but this time the woman didn’t understand that I wanted ALL of the money on there. I had $100, and it’s about a $3 activation fee. So whatever money I have I get whatever left over put on the card. She just couldn’t understand that. So she only put $95 on there and gave me a two dollars and nickle back. I was so pissed. I don’t do this very often and I didn’t have a lot of money to begin with, every dollar counts.
It was after 3 when we went back to Sears and the eye doctor still wasn’t there. We waited for a while, but I started to feel sick so we gave up and went to eat at Eat n Park. The day hadn’t been great so far, but it wasn’t exactly bad. I got my card, and I got a nice lunch. It was near the end of the meal that things started to go downhill at a fast pace. I was seated facing the window so I noticed it getting darker and darker outside, and then wind started to pick up. The trees outside were really flailing. Then it started to rain. Then pour. Until some moments you couldn’t even see more than a few feet outside. I told my aunt she said the weatherman had said “a chance of showers” not “a chance of armagedon”. Like most of the people in there we waited it out. One of the waitresses said they had gotten a call from someone saying they were being advised on the news not to drive. In terms of severity, there have actually been worse storms. It was quite windy and rained a lot, but except for a lot of lightning flashes in the clouds, and probably no more than three cloud to ground lightning strikes, and one big thunder/lightning clap, at was pretty uneventful. The rain was heavy though. It was even coming in one of Eat n Parks windows. The lights also blinked a few times. But nothing gave any indicator of what we were to see later.
After it stopped raining we walked from Eat n Park down to the parking garage, which you have to pass through to get to the street car. We saw two parked buses out front, one broken down, but didn’t think anything of it then. When we got to the street car some people who had parked there to catch the street car were held up at the pay station. When we approached one of the kids with them said the street cars weren’t running and the man said that the power was down and we’d have to take a bus. They left and the guy at the pay station said that a bus would be coming and we could take that and catch a different street car (he turned out to be wrong). We went to one of the buses out front where another group of stranded people had gathered. We were the last ones on and we left. We came upon what looked like a mass exodus out of the city. Cars were backed up everywhere and many places were without power. Even some traffic lights were down. I told Cynthia there should have been a cop there directing traffic, and there usually is in these situations. Now I guess one was on the way, but he was having trouble because of all the traffic. Some streets were closes because of down trees. I saw one street roped off with a huge tree that had tumbled right into the middle of it. Everyone on the bus was staring at the chaos around them. I think a few micro bursts had to have happened, because I saw one tree that had not only fallen down, but had had its roots ripped right out of the ground. There was about 3 feet of roots/dirt attached to it. Another tree had fallen on the back of someones car. Some trees only had branches snap off, albeit large ones. And of course there were many down power lines. Unfortunately for us our troubles weren’t over yet. As soon as we had set off the bus had been lurching quite a bit, and when we got to Banksville and Potomac the whole thing just stopped. One of the women asked the driver to explain what was going on, because most don’t they just leave you sitting there for a while, but this one seemed nice and after that kept us informed. He said that the last bus he was on broken down and they have him another broken bus, the trasmission and generator were down and he was waiting for another bus to come help. We waited for a while, but after talking on this phone a few times he told us we could stay and wait or walk up the hill to the street car (wrong again). Because of the traffic and how many downed trees there were it would take a while for anyone to get there. Most people decided to take the hill, except for one woman turned back because of how steep it was. And it was steep. Pittsburgh is a very hilly city with some very steep hills, and added to it the uneven and cracked pavements it can be hard to navigate. It took us a while to get up because it was a couple miles. We continued to see more split trees and power lines down. I was on the lookout for them all the time, because many were probably still live.
Now, I said that both guys were wrong because when we got within distance of where the street car was it was clear none were running. There were many people standing around, and more backed up traffic. None of the places there had power either. We thought that was strange because normally SHV gets bad weather, but our area always seems to avoid it. Not this time. Three street cars in a row, the first one a double, were going out towards the South Hills area were finally going in when we finally made it to Potomac/Dormont. There still weren’t any street cars going our way so we decided to continue walking. A few minutes later one came but we didn’t bother to try to get on. Cynthia wondered why all the street cars including the ones earlier were moving so slow, and I think it’s because they had to be on the lookout for trees on the tracks. If they were going at normal speeds and it one they could derail, and even if they stayed on the tracks people would get hurt when it impacted. Of course with all the street cars moving slow and traffic backed up to begin with people were throwing little hissy fits and honking their horns. It was so ridiculous. Everyone was in the same situation, there’s nothing anyone can do about it. You’re probably not on your way to the hospital, so just deal with it. And they were lucky to be in their cars. We walked about 2-3 miles that day, they just got to sit in their cars in the air conditioning. Before we got home we continued to see downed trees and power lines wherever we went. There were the constant noise of police and fire engine sirens in the distance. Walking home we passed one ambulance, but his sirens weren’t on, saw one police car zoom by, and one small fire engine passed us, sirens blaring. We saw him later parked in someones driveway, but it was a small truck, and there weren’t any hoses out, so I think a tree fell on someones house. We finally got back and a neighbor came out to say how bad it was here, and that some branches fell off her tree and ours. She also said the power was out.
Cynthia had been worried that one of the trees behind her house would fall on the people behind us, but they didn’t. A large branch fell into our yard, the other neighbors had some branches fall in ours, and two trees in ours and there’s were bent over. After surveying the damage and finding nothing too bad, we got out the candles and flash lights, and since she has a land line, Cynthia called Duquesne light to get the ETA on electricity. They didn’t have a time frame, but the recording said 44,000 homes were without power. Then she began calling the extended family. I didn’t bother calling my mom, since she has Comcast, and when the power is out the phone is too. I didn’t try her cell phone because I didn’t think she’d want to waste her minutes. She did call later on though, after she had been drinking a while. The power didn’t come on that evening, so we were left in the dark with nothing to do. I tried to lay down, but even though I was exhausted, it was so hot I couldn’t sleep. I kept checking my little digital clock (Harry Potter golden snitch clip on) and the streets to see if power had come back. The old folks home near here had it of course, because they have a generator. Because Pittsburgh is so hilly you can see pretty far in the distance, and I could see people getting their lights back, until we were the only area around here that didn’t. The moon was very bright at least, even though it was cloudy, and earlier on when the moon as out, it looked yellow orange. Very pretty. If it hadn’t been so cloudy I know we could have seen a lot of stars, since this is the only time we would have been able to. It’s usually too bright in the city to see anything. I finally did fall asleep, and when I woke up at 8 there was still no power. Went back to sleep, and at 1, no power. Cynthia said 22000 homes were still without electricity. Later on someone on Vodeli, a street near here said they had been told not to expect it until Saturday and Sunday. Brookline got their power back, Naomi, a cousin, got her power back, and Gary (probably a cousin) in Carrick got his back. But Pap Pap who lives in an apartment building not too far from Naomi didn’t have any power. So it was spotty. Brookline and Beechview are close to here and most of them had their power, Mt Lebanon didn’t, and I don’t know about Dormont, both those are the places surrounding here. Cynthia, my mom, and I were very pissed off to here no electricity until the weekend. It had already been 24 hours since the power had gone out, and 2-3 days? Ridiculous! The ice cream was melted, the ice cubes were melted, and everything in the fridge was going bad. I settled myself down with some catalogs and magazines to try to distract myself from the heat and boredom. Suddenly, after 5, the power came back on. I heard some people screaming in the streets, and Cynthia and I were just like “praise the lord!” So I got the fan on, and plugged the computer in, because I had already used up it’s 1:40 minutes battery. We’re just happy to have power back now.
The animals were going crazy after the storm happened. I saw a few squirrels running around, and a chipmunk dark across the street, and Cynthia found a poor dead bird this morning. She mentioned that she hadn’t even heard any birds today, so I don’t know where they all went. The only things that aren’t acting strange is the bugs. In the early fall there is a barrage of what they call “stink bugs”. They’re trying to get in everyone’s homes for the winter. Last year, or two years ago, my mom and I were downtown this time of year were saw a these beetle looking bugs everywhere. It was like a plague, they were literally everywhere. We had no idea what they were. I saw an article last week on the stink bugs and I recognized them. They’ve been all over the windows trying to get in, and today, since the windows have been open, one made it in. Cynthia flushed him down the drain in the kitchen. It’s like an invasion. There’ll be 4 at a time on several windows. I saw one caught in a spiders web, and I felt a little sorry for it, but it’s so disgusting having them all over the place all the time that I can’t spare too much pity for them.
The night before last I did manage to see a planet. I heard one was going to be really bright, and if it was that bright here I can’t imagine how it would look in the country. I was just in the living room and I saw a bright speck of light through the gap in the curtains, and was surprised to see the planet. I got an extra treat when a few seconds later I was a raccoon run across the street. At first I thought it was one of the cats of the woman across the street because she lets them out, but I noticed it was built differently. Then I saw it’s point tail and its mask and I recognized it. I was so happy to see the cute little raccoony. I’ve never seen on in person before. Apparently there’s some possums around here too, the woman with the cats leaves food out for them. Not as cute as the coon, but I wouldn’t want them to starve either. I hope they all stay safe though because the people around here are jag offs, especially the neighbors who go hunting. They have a couple of emaciated hunting dogs that get left outside all the time. And that’s how they treat their expensive purebred dogs. After we got back after the storm and we were looking out back we saw the two dogs out in their yard. I hope they didn’t leave the poor things out in the storm.
Edit Edit Edit!!!!: After about an hour and a half the power went out. Bastards.
A minute later: And the power is back on? For now…
Another minute: Off. Right after I turned the fan back on…
Turned the fan back on… now stay on!