Monday, October 28. Day One of the week-long power outage.
I was in the middle of my linguistics class, where I sat in the front with my right leg propped up on a chair ahead of me, listening to my professor, when the lights suddenly turned off. Everyone was confused, including my professor. He stepped outside for a moment to figure out what was going on. When he returned, he resumed the lesson for an additional fifteen minutes before dismissing us. The power in the building had not returned and I was on the second floor, crutches under my arms, and stitches on my right knee. If it weren’t for the kindness of two strangers, I don’t know how I would have gotten down the flight of stairs.
I managed to find companionship on that first day as I went to the Commons for a source of food. Another kind stranger offered to pay for my meal as I did not have Dining Dollars nor was I on a meal plan, the only way one could receive food from there.
It had been my luck that Day One was when I was scheduled to see the doctor about my knee. From there, my luck was about to get worse.
Wednesday, October 30. Day Two of the week-long power outage.
Once again, I had been scheduled to see the doctor that day, but the previous night indicated that would not be the case. I trudged on, accepting that the campus would be closed.
I woke up at around 10 a.m. that morning to find that my chargers plugged on the outlet were not working. I realized, then, that the power had been shut-off. While the e-mails warned me that the power could be shut-off during a planned campus closure, I had yet to see them follow through on it.
I had to rely on emergency cash to order a pizza for myself and one of my roommates just so we could have something to eat that day. I used my laptop to charge my phone, with two portable chargers in hand. I had to be careful with how I used them for my phone’s battery is very unreliable and in need of constant charging to ensure it won’t die.
Connection to the outside world was limited as my network went on and off on working, even with the Hotspot on for my laptop. I managed to keep in touch with my online friends and my sister, who was three hours away from this mess.
As the day turned to night, I closed my laptop while it was on its last legs and used my most reliable portable to keep my phone on. But at some point, that portable ran out of battery.
I decided to turn my phone off for the night, intent on turning it back on in the morning. I wasn’t sure what I would do the next day.
Thursday, October 31. Day Three of the week-long power outage.
What should have been a day of tricks and treats was a day of worry hanging over my head. I turned my phone back on, only to find that it wouldn’t turn on. I had to resort to using my second portable and waited for my phone to be usable again.
When it became usable, I found out that there was a chance I would have to be evacuated as the fires peaked closer to the area.
I heard that some in the area, some that were farther away from my apartment, were called to evacuate their homes should the fire touch their only known shelter against the high winds.
By noon, I was alone in my apartment. My roommates had places to retreat to in this trying time. I didn’t. My knee still in stitches. My only source of food was Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I did my best to preserve as much juice in my last remaining portable as possible. I’d unplug it when my phone reached 100% and again when I took a nap. The nap was very brief and upon turning my phone back on, my battery had depleted during that time of rest.
I lived off cereal on Day 3 and all I could think to do was check my e-mail and Twitter for any updates. I packed up my laptop bag with my electronic necessities and a small bag to carry at least one day’s worth of clothes, a toothbrush, a hairbrush, tweezers, and a couple of plush toys that would make me feel better should I leave.
That evening was the last of the wrap I could use to put on my knee. If I were to be evacuated, I wouldn’t know how to leave. Even if I didn’t have to evacuate, if the power remained out, I would have to venture out of my apartment to search for a place to charge my electronics so I can be up to date on what’s going on and not go entirely crazy. It would be a real pain trying to get down the stairs. But my resources were running low.
By six in the evening, my last portable worked no more. I still needed to be up to date. At around 6:45, an idea came to me. My laptop wasn’t entirely dead yet.
I turned it on, plugging my phone to the laptop and checking my e-mail. At around 7, the announcement was made that power would return overnight. Relieved, I turned the flashlight of my phone on as my laptop died, having done its job for me. I waved the flashlight in front of my window as did the residents in the building across from me.
I don’t know who those people were. They didn’t know who I was. But we were the ones who remained in the powerless buildings.
About ten minutes later, the lights in my room lit up and we were with power once more.