When a Derecho Hit D.C. Last Week, I Saw the Chaos it Causes — Firsthand

derecho hit D.C.

Flickr: woodleywonderworks

For a thunderstorm that lasted barely an hour and half, last Friday’s derecho sure caused a lot of havoc in the D.C. region. Most people were quite likely enjoying their Friday evenings like they always do. I was at home, getting ready for a trip the next day, when the derecho hit D.C. The sound of gushing winds prompted me to leave my packing and look out the window.

Wish I hadn’t, because I immediately felt like I was on a ship, riding angry waves and beating back relentless wind and torrential rain. Trees were swaying wildly, making disconcerting crackle sounds as they went. On Rockville Pike, cars were going slowly; a couple of drivers had stopped on the side of the road, unsure of how to navigate in the storm. I hadn’t paid attention to news about the weather lately and thought that we were being hit by a hurricane. I panicked.


When the derecho hit D.C., fallen trees like these were found all over the region. Flickr: woodleywonderworks

Then, the power went out. We were in total darkness, listening to the awful storm outside.

When light appeared over the area the following morning, assessment of damage began all over town, and there was plenty. Plenty. The obssesive-compulsive in me was very glad to grab my packed overnight bag and get the heck out of this mess.

Upon returning from my trip. I noted a rundown of things that I (and the million other affected area residents) had to deal with:

  • Inability to sleep well in the sweltering hot apartment. As luck would have it, we’re experiencing a heatwave at the very same time that the derecho hit D.C. Temperatures are reaching 36 C, or 100 F, so imagine not having even a fan in this situation.
  • Sympathy and dismay to see large tree branches laying on neighbours cars. Windshields smashed. I’m really grateful I didn’t have to personally deal with this, or I would have missed my friend’s wedding.
  • Traffic lights out all over town, police had to direct traffic. Actually, I didn’t mind this so much, because drivers were being incredibly considerate. That’s a rarity around here.
  • People killed. RIP.
  • Trees down everywhere. Tree removal crews must have been overwhelmed.
  • Desperate search for candles or flashlights at the stores.
  • Inability to stay in sweltering hot apartment.
  • Fourth of July celebrated in darkness and unbearable heat. Many festivities were cancelled.
  • Short-temperedness from folks around me. Witnessed a fight between neighbours about noise and fumes from a generator that a ground-level apartment resident had set up, apparently to “cool her fridge.” I sided with the anti-generator folks. Lady, everyone around you had to throw out their food. If you’re gonna set up a generator, at least have a decent one that’s quieter and pollutes less.
  • Desperate search for a hotel by Day Three of power outage. Everywhere was fully booked, had no power or were taking advantage of the crisis to impose outrageous and unacceptable policies.

Personally I can’t complain too much, because my building had electricity back by Tuesday afternoon. And I did escape out of town for a day and a half. Some residents, even as far as Baltimore, had to wait ONE WEEK for their electricity to get restored. There might even be a few neighbourhoods still waiting. I’m a tropical gal and all, but in this type of cloudless, relentless heat, I’m not sure that I wouldn’t go out and maul someone. 😐

If you enjoyed this post about life in the USA, you might also be interested in reading about the strict rules that Americans follow when it comes to school busses transporting children to and from school.

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