damage sep 21
Picture from the Montreal Gazette of the area near my house, hit by the Tornado

On the 21st of September a Tornado struck Ottawa-Gatineau. I lived only 5 blocks away from where it hit in Gatineau, and was therefore a part of the event, if only on the periphery. I lost power for 21 hours, the apartment lost some roof tiles, and my garden was trashed. When the power returned I lost a lot of food which had thawed. All relatively minor, especially considering the horrific damage only a few blocks away. I was lucky!!
With the time spent worrying, wondering, and without power I was able to spend a lot of time in contemplation on what it means to be a part of a natural disaster, my coping skills, and my preparedness. Here are some:
• I can live without power for quite a while, comfortably (my cell phone however cannot)
• Keeping my Sony Walkman after the demise of the cassette tape was a good thing – its radio served as my link to the outside world
• My hoarding of candles served me well – there was light!
• I don’t keep enough non-cooking food for snacking in the house – a dinner of crackers was not really that appetizing, or really enough
• A charcoal BBQ is a great thing, but does not light in high winds that were still about on Saturday
• I had batteries in the house – enough for the Walkman and flashlights. I am not always sure that this is the case. Lucky this time.
• Politicians who avoided the area during an election campaign are really quick to visit when there is a tornado. Everyone was here. They are not interested in getting the support of the residents of Mont-Bleu by visiting to campaign, or send out flyers….. [cynical thoughts follow]
• Hydro Quebec were rock stars in getting the power on so quickly despite the devastation to a lot of the area.
• People don’t know how to drive without traffic lights
• People don’t know how to yield to emergency vehicles
• I am utterly grateful I kept my landline and a corded phone – I was never out of reach of help if I needed it
• I have some absolutely wonderful friends who offered their homes, their showers and their electricity for me during the aftermath. Much thanks to Susan for the electricity and a hot cup of tea!!!! to Jane for a lift to a grocery store after the major dump of my fridge’s contents; and to Laurie and Siobhan to send out messages for me on Facebook telling everyone I was alright when I still had no access to internet.
• People are generally really good in times of disaster. The news has been full of people who have offered to help friends, neighbours, strangers. It is wonderful to see.