The positive aspect of all this labor is that it builds upper body strength and passes the day so you don't notice the power is out. The down side is that the power is out, a disappointment when you finish outside and look forward to air conditioning and a cleansing shower.

No power means no A/C, no lights, no water, no refrigeration, no microwave oven, no TV, no stove, no dishwasher, no clean laundry, no cleanliness or godliness of any kind. It means hauling buckets of water up from the river so you can flush the toilets. It means the whole region turns into a third-world country. It means the racket of generators banging through what remains of the usually quiet woods. It means no Internet access, no ability for a telecommuter to put in productive time at the home office. The novelty of such an adventure wears thin after the first hurricane. By the time Isabel came along, we knew what to expect and were resigned to our fate. We didn't know it would last so long, though.

Isabel damageOur personal storm-related problems were merely annoying; the outside world was impaired to the point of paralysis. Everybody was cut off from all but the most rudimentary news reports. Radio transmitting towers were toppled. Roads and bridges were washed out. The rescue squad of which I was a member at the time had to interrupt transport of a laboring mother to clear trees from the highway several times both en route to the scene and en route to the hospital. Another squad couldn't mobilize its vehicles because fallen trees blocked the doors to its ambulance bays. Downed power lines crisscrossed the highways. Both landline and cell telephone service were out. Emergency services could communicate only through a radio frequency shared by three counties. Gas stations couldn't pump. Grocery stores couldn't operate and lost tons of frozen and refrigerated food. Erosion and 90-knot wind gusts out by the Chesapeake Bay destroyed homes.