A storm hit Auckland on Tuesday night; wind gusts of 170 km/ph were recorded, the Harbour Bridge was closed to trucks, ferry sailings were cancelled, boats were torn from moorings and hurled against rocks and around 70,000 homes and businesses lost electricity as trees, trampolines and assorted flying debris downed power lines.
Our power went off just after 1am. I know this because the wind was so strong it rattled our normally very robust windows and woke me.
Lack of electricity in the middle of the night wouldn’t usually be a problem for us, as even the Big T has usually retired by then. But of course, Tuesday night had to be THE night he had two conference calls – one at 2am, the other at 6am. He managed both, sitting in the dark of our living room (which is warmer than his office when there’s no heating), though the battery on his phone barely lasted.
When I got up at 7am there was still no electricity and with it no chance of a shower or a proper cup of coffee. The boy-child is home from school with glandular fever, so at least we were spared the nightmare of trying to get him to the bus-stop in gridlocked traffic (traffic lights were out as well).
So it was an odd day.
The storm itself had passed, and as the day progressed, the sky became increasingly blue. Our neighbourhood was eerily quiet – the only people out seemed to be workers clearing away fallen branches and repairing power lines.
That took until about 3pm.
So it was an odd day. Our house wasn’t damaged, so we had shelter. We had food and as much hot water as could be boiled on the gas cook-top. We even managed to make one pot of coffee before the pre-ground stuff ran out and we realised our coffee grinder is electric. It wasn’t a particularly cold day, so the lack of heating wasn’t a problem. Our house has good natural light, so we didn’t have to resort to torches and candles. Really, we had pretty much everything we needed. Except the ability to work.
Without our computers, internet access and the ability to charge phone/iPad batteries – neither the Big T nor I could do much actual work. At one stage we were both sitting in our cars, charging our phone batteries and answering emails, but the newsletter I was working on had to be abandoned, as did a report I wanted to write for a meeting last night.
First world problems; and I am more than a little ashamed of myself for complaining about the lack of a latte and the possibility of a cold shower. I’m ashamed when I think of large families in cold, damp houses struggling to get children fed and off to school, before they faced the traffic to reach jobs where lateness – whatever the cause – has a financial penalty. I’m more ashamed when I think of Auckland’s homeless population, and of the people of Christchurch who have endured three years of post-Earthquake disruption to the fabric of their daily lives, and in particular those whose homes flood in storms like Tuesday night’s.
The Auckland City Mission has long been our family’s “Christmas” charity, but of course compassion is for life, not just for Christmas.