BLACKOUT by Brian Roper

Posted: May 6, 2007 in The Roper Files

MAY 2ND…6PM…Hot muggy day. Come home from a long tedious ten-hour shift and throw my ass down hard on the futon. Put up my tired, throbbing feet and turn on the evening news. The morning news predicted rain for this afternoon; now they’re coming on with tornado warnings. The sun is out. It’s hot. WTF?

Go back to the front door and look. Sure enough, there are a few clouds on the horizon and the wind starts picking up. A few minutes later, the sky turns kind of green and so do I; the last time I saw the sky turn that color was 2000 when we had a tornado here in Fort Worth. Hate this time of year; won’t be able to relax, especially until after the anniversary of May 5th hailstorm that trashed Fort Worth in 1995. We are in the middle of an on-going three-year drought; we need all the rain we can get. All the lakes are down and summer isn’t far off.  But I still stay a bundle of nerves and shake like Don Knotts when the sky turns the wrong color.

It’s Wednesday; one more day of work. On the 5am news, they said it would rain and nothing more. Now at 6pm, they’re pre-empting everything and showing reporters out in remote spots of town south of here. “The lights appear to be going out, yes we are losing power and…” the picture goes out on the television, and then all the power in my place goes out as a LOUD crash of thunder hits close. The house shudders, and then I am standing alone in my darkened living room.

Great. I fumble around the house (Ow!) and successfully locate a candle and matches. Despite all our technological advances, here I am relying on Beverly Hillbillies-age devices to keep from breaking my shins. No Internet. No Cable. No stereo. No movies, VHS or dvds. I break out my 35-year-old acoustic guitar and practice to keep from losing my mind while I wait for the power to come back on.

Being left to my own devices gets old fast. I’m hungry, but both my stove and microwave are disabled. Outside the rain is blowing sideways and the wind is howling with a hurricane-level ferocity.

Just as suddenly as it started, it ends. I open the front door and look around; a neighbor has a tree down but everything looks normal enough. Minutes later, I hear many sirens in the distance. Later, what looks like post-storm sight-seers are driving around. “Hey look, Nadine, that there tree fell down!”

I will find out later that there was indeed a tornado nearby and that damage across Fort Worth is widespread. I got lucky; aside from a few tree limbs in the yard there’s no damage to my wheels or house. Most of the serious damage is in south Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas.

Go to sleep early; nothing to do except read by candlelight like Abe Lincoln. Didn’t do anything wrong, but I’m going to bed without dinner.  Wake up at 1:30 with all the lights in the house on from me walking into every room earlier in the evening and flipping the switch which is what it takes to remind me the power is out.

MAY 6th…7:30am…Sunday…OK , we made it past May 5th one more time. The sun is AWOL and the forecasters are predicting rain for the entire week. Got to keep reminding myself that the lakes are down, we need the rain. We need the rain. We need the rain.



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