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Published:July 7th, 2012 18:49 EST
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Surviving The Derecho Windstorm & Power Outage Of 2012

By Robert Paul Reyes

Friday night June 20 I stepped outside the plant where I work, and I was immediately buffeted by a strong wind. I hurried back inside, and a couple of minutes later we lost power.

The workers erupted in cheers - no power meant they couldn`t operate their machines, and they could take a break. I live about five miles from where I work, and the only thought on my mind was "I hope I didn`t lose power in my house."

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My shift ended a couple of hours later, and when I left the pitch-black parking lot,I discovered the blackness enveloped the surrounding area. My headlights revealed a surreal landscape of trees there were knocked down by the ferocious wind.

I got home to a dark house, and went to sleep thinking that my power would probably come back in the morning. The battery-operated radio informed me that the power outage might last a couple of days. This was unwelcome and surprising news, I had never experienced a power outage that lasted for more than a couple of hours. By the end of the second day of the power outage, there was crazy talk of the power outage lasting a week or longer.

The outage lasted over a week for me; many of my friends are still out of power. A hellish week of stifling heat (we are in the midst of a heat wave), no refrigeration, no TV, no Internet, no hot water "

The worst part of the ordeal for me wasn`t sweating like a pig all day and all night, waiting in line for hours for gasoline, desperately trying to find precious ice, or trying to quench my thirst with lukewarm water.

The worst aspect was the loss of my Internet connection, which I am still without.

I`ve learned a lot of things during these trying times. I`ve learned that the storm that turned my life upside down is a "derecho". According to Wikipedia, a derecho is a widespread, long, lived, straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving bad of severe thunderstorms. I`ve learned that during a time of crisis, a few individuals react selfishly, but the majority of people look out for their friends and neighbors. I learned that I was woefully unprepared for a blackout: No candles, flashlights, batteries, or generator.

But the most important thing I realized was how much I am dependent on the Internet for news, communicating with my friends, and most critically for publishing my articles. I actually used pen and paper to write this article, and used a library computer to publish it online.

To my friends and faithful readers: I am bored to death without Internet access, miserable that I am unable to express myself in the published word. But I am grateful that my power has been restored, and that my house didn`t suffer any damage.

I`m convinced that the next power outage in the plant where I work will be greeted not with cheers, but anguish.

Follow Robert Paul Reyes on Twitter: http://twitter.com/robertpaulreyes