Monday, July 16, 2012

A Derecho? What is That?

Friday evening, June 29th, started like any other.  But as I caught up on my emails and social media that evening, I noticed a disturbing trend.  First, a weather expert (because I am obsessed with all things weather as a business owner) that I follow on Twitter noted that strong storms would hit Northern Virginia at around 10:30.  We're no stranger to strong thunderstorms in this area and the most I thought about it at the time was how long it might keep me awake.

As I perused Facebook, I started reading the statuses of friends from my hometown in West Virginia, commenting on the winds and loss of power they had just experienced that evening.  I remarked to Jim "I think we have a bad storm coming."  Still, how bad could it really be?

The storm hit our home shortly after 10:30 with wind like I've never heard before, despite having experienced Tropical Storms in Williamsburg and in Northern Virginia.  Our power went out within a minute of the storm starting.  The lightening was intense.  We kept asking ourselves "Where is the rain?"

Once the storm had passed, I immediately began to think about Zoe.  Would there be power?  Would there be phones/internet service?  Would there be damage?  My mind was racing with contingency plans.  I slept fitfully and got up early to try to find some breakfast and get ready for work.

As we drove to Zoe that morning, we did pass through several dark traffic light and by downed trees.  I was so relieved when I got to the store and found that we had power (that was big worry #1 crossed off my list).  But I found that I did not have internet connectivity and my alarm system was on the fritz.  I got the alarm stopped from random beeping and went to work on the internet situation - no internet, no automated credit card processing.

I sent a quick email to my landlord (via my phone) to ask if he had been notified by Comcast about an outage.  After trying to get through to their customer service line several times via phone (and having no success) I took to Twitter.  I tweeted to the ComcastCares account about service status in Alexandria.  Within a minute, I connected with a rep and sent him a DM with my phone number.  He confirmed that we did have service in my area and that a check of the router and modem would probably reveal an internal problem.  After reboots, I was back in business!  While I had the ability to manually process cards the old fashioned way, I was glad to have things back to normal.

With this out of the way, I did a check of the inside and outside of the space.  I did find a water leak at the window that faces Union Street.  I took a picture of the water pooled on the window sill to send to my landlord and then cleaned it up.  Fortunately, no clothing or wood was damaged by the water that had gotten into the space.

Shortly after I opened, I met a couple visiting from Houston who had come to town for a wedding.  The wedding location had no power and no plumbing!  They told me that the bride was scrambling to find a new venue for the wedding that afternoon!  Later that morning, I met another couple attending the same wedding who confirmed that the bride had found a hotel in Old Town to accommodate her.  Even though I didn't know her, I was so pleased to hear of the happy ending!

The storm created so much damage, loss of life, loss of power, and severe impacts on businesses.  I was  so thankful that the effects at Zoe were so minor.

Next up:  Summertime Window Decorations

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