Did you see that coming?

As I look back, maybe I should have realized what was happening.
Early last week, New Orleans was bracing for Hurricane Sally. Then the storm took a little turn toward the Louisiana-Mississippi line, then a little more toward Gulfport. Wait … then Sally seemed to take aim at the Mississippi-Alabama line. Then it was all Alabama. Gulf Shores to be more exact. And up to Atmore. Category 2 at the Gulf, category 1 in Atmore.
Wednesday morning, September 16, the wind started howling. Trees started falling. Power lines started coming down. And electricity stopped.
Later in the day, when conditions improved, you could hear chainsaws and generators. Very reminiscent of Hurricane Ivan’s aftermath exactly 16 years earlier, to the day. Overall, Sally was not as bad as Ivan, but she was bad enough.
I didn’t see it coming, and I’ve heard other folks say the same thing. I didn’t make proper preparations – certainly no one’s fault but my own. Lesson learned for next time. I was too complacent. Maybe not paying close enough attention. Not realizing those jogs to the east would put us in the cone … and in the dark.
Getting the papers out
Our conversation in the office early last week was about getting the newspaper out. When did we need to try to deliver papers? Our regular Tuesday afternoon? Hold them until Wednesday, maybe Thursday? Later in the week was our Plan A.
When conditions were not terrible Tuesday morning – and it looked like Wednesday would be worse – we decided to go ahead with our regular schedule. We posted on Facebook we were going to Plan B which was Tuesday afternoon home delivery. Not terrible weather, but rainy and windy. Got the papers out to homes, got the racks filled and worked inside sales at stores. Later that afternoon, we got the mail papers to the McDavid and Atmore post offices.
The next morning, when the rain and wind really started in earnest, I was hoping folks had picked up their papers in the yard and driveway.
What I didn’t know was that the mail papers on the loading dock at the Atmore post office were still sitting there. I don’t know the process for the mail papers – we take them at different times on Tuesday afternoon or evening, and the papers go out.
But not last week.
Post office personnel let us know Thursday that our papers were wet and didn’t go out. I hated that. We pride ourselves on being on time. Later Thursday, we redid the mail papers and got them to the post office. Then we found out the Mobile mail processing center was down due to no power.
Actually, I’m not sure when our papers were mailed.
The ‘new, new normal’
Since March, we’ve dealt with the coronavirus. Every week, it was something else. Masks. Social distancing. Businesses closing, reopening, closing again. No gatherings, small gatherings, larger gatherings with precautions. No school, online school, remote learning, in-person school.
We have all been so tired of our “new normal.” What else could we call life as we’ve known it the past several months. Our “old normal” was replaced with the “new normal.”
Until … Wednesday, September 16, when the electricity went off. Then there was a “new, new normal.” For some of us, it lasted only 24 hours. For others, it was days.
When you think things are pretty bad, they can always get worse as Sally proved. Suddenly, our “new normal” – masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds – didn’t seem so bad if we could have a hot cup of coffee, a little AC and a hot shower. In fact, I don’t think many of us were thinking about those COVID things.
The “new, new normal” was uncomfortable and not at all welcome, especially since we didn’t know how long it would last.
Most of us got back to our “new normal” fairly quickly. Back to distancing, etc. So, is that how our lives change? It’s not as bad as it could be so we don’t mind it as much. Is that how we become accepting of circumstances?
I don’t know. But I’ve been wondering.
Thank you, power company personnel – local and out of town
It seems power was restored in record time after Sally. The sound of generators droned on for weeks after Ivan, but not so this time. By Saturday, power had been restored to all Alabama Power customers in Atmore. Most (if not all) rural areas served by Southern Pine were back up in less than a week.
On Facebook, residents expressed their appreciation to personnel who were working to get the lights back on. Sadly, there were negative comments as well when residents didn’t see a truck on their street. Guess what – you don’t always see the truck.
Thanks to the many workers on the ground and up the poles. Thanks to the men and women behind the scenes. Thanks to Beth Thomas, Corporate Communication Manager, Alabama Power, Mobile Division. Beth kept us apprised of the situation in Atmore with APCO and answered numerous questions, all while she was talking with reporters on Mobile news stations.
To our local power company employees, thanks for taking care of your friends and neighbors. We appreciate you. Maybe we take you for granted sometimes, but we don’t mean to.
To the out-of-town power company personnel, thanks for coming. You’re our new best friends.