Monday, December 05, 2011

Pasadena's Version of a Snow Day

This past Thursday morning, when I woke up, I checked my alarm clock as I always do to see what time it was.

I couldn't, because the power was out.

Although blackouts are by no means common, I've lived through enough of them that I didn't let it bother me too much. I checked my watch to see that it was indeed time to get up, and so attempted to start my day. Since our bathroom has no windows, I could only do even the most basic of necessities by lighting a candle for minimal illumination. Not able to do much else, I decided to go ahead and drive to work early.

I went outside, and saw the first examples of the damage done by the previous night's winds. We'd been told that they'd be pretty severe. "Hurricane force," in fact. So seeing that the pots and plants immediately outside most of my neighbors' apartments had been knocked about, and that the pool was filled with leaves and similar debris, was hardly a surprise, although seeing that the "School Crossing" sign across the street had been blown completely horizontal was rather unusual.

Knowing that the traffic lights immediately surrounding my apartment were likely to be out, I chose a path to work via the freeway. I arrived in Pasadena without serious incident, and just as I was turning into Oakland Avenue, my phone rang with an automated emergency message informing me that the seminary would be closed for the day due to the damage caused by the winds. A look down the road made the decision obvious, but of course I was already there by that point. So I found a place to park and took some pictures.

I've seen wind damage before, but I confess that I've never been to a hurricane site before (or, even a "hurricane force winds site," since that's probably not quite the same thing, although I can't say I'm clear on the distinction), and this was definitely worse than anything I'd seen since moving to Southern California more than a decade ago. The entirety of the open, grassy area that makes up the central part of campus was carpeted in debris. The front of the building that houses the President's and Provost's offices was entirely blocked by a fallen tree, as was the road (just behind and to the right) I would otherwise have used to get to my usual parking space.

When I finally left, I didn't immediately go home (since I didn't have any power there), so I spent more time on surface streets, and thus saw this scene repeated all over not only Pasadena, but the entire San Gabriel Valley. Debris scattered everywhere, trees blocking roads, traffic lights out, and so on. By this time, I had also turned on the radio to hear the news talking about the disaster, and so I had a better idea of just how widespread the situation was. Yet miraculously, there were still no fatalities reported due to the storms by the end of the day Thursday (I don't know if that situation remained the same the rest of the weekend or not).

My wife and I already had to be out of town during the weekend for a convention in Riverside, which turned out to be rather fortuitous timing, as it soon became clear that our apartment in Monrovia would not have power restored by the end of the day. So we arranged to spend Thursday evening with her uncle in Anaheim, and we then proceeded to Riverside the next day to enjoy the convention and wait out the blackout. By the time we returned Saturday afternoon, power was finally back on again, although that meant that we only then were able to get started cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer, since the perishables had all spoiled in the meantime. All in all, we got through the situation pretty well. Although the seminary itself was back open for business on Friday, a fairly large number of my co-workers here at Fuller had still not had power restored at last report Sunday afternoon. I can only hope that they finally have their lights on again by the time I'm writing this on Monday morning.

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