They called it a derecho. Even with a weather wonk in the house, I’d never heard the term before. Neither had Bob. Wikipedia defines it as a “widespread, long-lived, straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms”. It knocked out power to about 97 percent of West Virginia and much of the East Coast. It didn’t help that it happened in the middle of the worst heat wave the US has experienced in decades.
Throughout our area, ice supplies were depleted almost immediately. Lines at the gas stations that had power and fuel were reminiscent of the OPEC oil embargo in 1973-74. Oh, and in case you haven’t lost power recently, here’s a tip: Keep your cell phone well charged because if your phone is tied to your Internet service, it will go down with the electricity. This can literally be a matter of life and death in an emergency.
Bob and I got lucky. Our power came back on after about 30 hours and we didn’t suffer any major property damage. We lost the food in the fridge and spent a lot of time in our basement, which was about 10 degrees cooler than the main floor of our house.
Not everyone was so lucky. A week after the storm, there were still more than 100,000 people in our state without power. Columnists John Giles and Tom Crouser both lost their air conditioners when the power finally came back on line. That hurts when the mercury is regularly cracking the 100 degree mark.
And the weather troubles were not limited to the eastern part of the country. In Chicago, columnist Steve Johnson’s Copresco lost its roof to a major wind storm. Again, luck held. Because it happened on the weekend, there was no one in the shop and most of the week’s work had been completed and delivered. “No one was hurt and we didn’t lose much work,” he told me. “It could have been much worse.” Even his usual good humor seemed intact.
It’s just a fact of life that we all have to deal with adversity. The recent storms and heat remind us how important it is to be prepared for the unexpected. Now is a good time to make sure that all your insurance policies are current and adequate to cover any losses your company might sustain when the big winds come knocking.