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Leila S. Case: The night the lights went out

Everyone has a storm story and is eager to share their experience when one or two are gathered together.
We were warned days ahead by agencies dealing with storms that Hurricane Michael was headed for Southwest Georgia, and Sumter County was expected to get hit with winds to exceed 74 to 100 mph. What? A hurricane coming to town? Disrupting our lives for days? This sounds like an unruly child to me that needs to be put in “time out” or be administered an old-fashioned spanking.
But we’re dealing with Mother Nature here — not a misbehaved child — but a monster named Michael. I’m glad the weather folks, or whoever was responsible, for changing hurricane names to the male gender. If not, I suppose our recent natural disaster would have been tagged Michelle.
Among the worst, if you can call any part of it worse than another was that the storm came in the dark of night. Do we sleep through it, we asked one another, or remain on the ready if one of the tall pines crashes onto our house?
Decisions were made quickly and we were prepared the “night the lights went out.”
The chairs in the backyard had been turned upside down; the birdfeeder was tucked under an azalea; the American and Georgia flags and front porch rocker were inside; the political signs hidden behind shrubs; there was enough bottled water to share with Fort Benning troops; torch lights checked; canned goods in stock, including our standby — peanut butter.
We went to bed and prayed, waking often to hear wind howling and rain pelting. So, we rose from our cozy covers, grabbed the torch light and peeked outside but couldn’t see anything. We opened the front door and aimed the light on the tree tops doing the tango, and changed direction to focus on the power lines. They remained taut.
We anticipated the morning, and life without coffee which is most unacceptable. So, at first light and after a tepid shower, we jumped into comfy TePuy activewear, donned a raincoat and told the-man-who-reads-over-my-shoulder our plans to search for hot coffee.
Before we could leave the house, however, son Mark called my cell asking about our welfare. And I told him we’re fine and leaving to find coffee. He told me that a tremendous pecan tree at the edge of his yard fell out into Ga. Highway 195 and was blocking traffic, but he was handling the problem and, of course, he was. He’s our son.
We left home at 7 a.m. hoping the LEOs wouldn’t notice Miss Mini was breaking the 9 o’clock curfew. We headed downtown and found Café Campesino dark; however, the Windsor Hotel lobby lights were brightly shining. Do you think they are serving coffee? Miss Mini kept on course searching for the fast food restaurants open that time of day. Sadly, they were not open, so Miss Mini changed directions and headed west.
Crossing the viaduct at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Miss Mini turned left and headed up the “hill.” Bingo. Waffle House was open and in business. Luckily, I found a parking space and rushed inside to join a crowd of thousands, also coffee-less. The queue stretched outside but we passed the time by swapping storm stories with strangers and friends: Nichole Buchanan, John Stovall, Greg and Karen Austin. Finally, 30 minutes later and with two cups of coffee to go, Miss Mini headed home.
Not knowing when we would have power again, the ordeal of clearing the yard the best we could began in fits and starts.
We were blessed. Our house was not damaged, and we were just merely inconvenienced. Our hearts and prayers are with those who lost so much, including large farm crops.
The real heroes during the aftermath of the hurricane are the hundreds of linemen, LEOs, first responders, tree trimmers, and storm rescue teams.
A special thanks to our loving family, our kind neighbor, Connie and Ronnie Visage, Waffle House, and Captain D’s. Both establishments get a 10-star rating in their crown.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.