Al Gore is responsible for this. He taunted Mother Nature. Consider this her memo: Don't Presume To Know What I Have in Store.
Here in Fairfax County, we thought we were prepared. I had purchased enough milk to last our family of five for a week. We had plenty of food. As the blizzard raged Friday night, we were tucked comfortably in the family room under blankets alternately watching a movie and observing the snow blowing sideways past the windows. The only interruptions to our comfort were the obligatory trips to the (decreasingly visible) driveway for Cali, our 10-week-old puppy.
It was around the 3 a.m. outing that the power went out. I hadn't really worried enough about that possibility. Though we often lose power due to summer storms, and occasionally if there's ice, snow has never before left us dark. But this is no ordinary storm. This is Al Gore's blizzard. My husband opened the garage door manually. We fumbled with flashlights to find Cali's leash and get her safely in and out. Back under the covers until 6 a.m., by which time the house was pretty cold and Cali needed to go out again. One of the kids did this trip. The snow was about 10 inches deep but the storm showed no signs of abating.
When the ambient temperature drops below 50 degrees, door handles send a chill down the spine, and we won't speak of bathroom experiences. A warm drink can make all the difference. But our cook top is electric, as is the oven. All was dark and inert. In good pioneer spirit, we lit a fire in the fireplace and used a stainless steel pan to boil water. Those silicon oven mitts have never done more useful service! Pour the boiling water over the (thankfully previously ground beans) et voila -- hot coffee. Slightly smoky tasting, but hot. The world is righted. Repeat procedure for the kids (yes, my teenagers drink coffee).
Our hot water heater uses gas, so we could at least wash our hands and faces in warm water. And unlike our less fortunate neighbors, we have county, not well, water so the lack of electricity doesn't shut down our water supply. But actually taking a shower, only to emerge into near freezing air, didn't seem appealing. We plugged in the one corded phone we keep for such emergencies. Dominion Virginia Power estimated restoration by 11 a.m. Thinking of Sisyphus, we started shoveling. Now there were 13 or 14 inches. We helped the stranded cars near our house dig out.