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Explorations in Just Living

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About this blog

Welcome to the blog of the Enough for Everyone program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). By "just living" we mean both justice-based living and just simply living – freeing ourselves from the clutter of stuff so we can focus on living faithfully and living well. Join us in the exploration!

About the Author
Bryce Wiebe coordinates Enough for Everyone, a ministry of the Presbyterian Hunger Program. He loves slow food and is fascinated by the way things are made.  He is excited to dive into experiments in simplicity with you.  His sacred cow of consumption: kitchen gadgets.

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September 17, 2008

A World Without Power

This past week Hurricane Ike ravaged much of the country. We had been told that the storm would largely miss us and that winds would be around 30 MPH. The forecast was wrong.   Surprisingly, Ike's remnants hit Louisville harder than anyone expected. Louisville was hit by winds up to 75 MPH and not a drop of rain. Winds from Ike knocked out power to more than 375,000 people in our area. This is the largerst power outage in Louisville's history.

I was one of the people who lost electrical power. To my knowledge it still isn't back and may not be for a long time. Initially, I wasn't really bothered by the power loss. I didn't think that it would be out for very long. When I received word to eat the perishables in my fridge, I knew that this was a different sort of power outage. The power restoration efforts were given to me not in hours, but in days or weeks. I was now facing a world without power.

This new world was pretty alien to me. I could, and still did, flip light switches as I entered a room. I suppose I can say that the shock of the event has not yet worn off as I am still surprised when the lights do not come on. When night falls the world becomes dominated by flashlight birthed shadows scurrying across the landscape. Mealtimes bear community as neighbors come together to care for one another. We don't have FEMA or municipal support where I live, but I know that there are many dedicated people trying to restore the power to all who have been affected. I have lost some and the conditions are far from ideal, but throughout this time I think I have gained more than I lost.

What I did lose amounts to a fridge/freezer full of food. While that is a big loss and was difficult, I realize that I have gained a greater sense of community. This disaster, though calling it a disaster feels a little extreme to me, has brought the community I live in closer together. People  share what they have with one another: food, tea lights, company, and stories. We can get together and complain about the cold showers, the reading by candlelight, and the building fire alarm that sounds around four in the morning each night. Community games are also played and there are times when the world feels surprisingly normal.

There are also times when we have gotten together to pray for others who have been hit much harder than we were. Yes, we have lost some of what made our lives livable and comfortable, but this will come back soon enough. Throughout this event I have found great hope in how the community has come together where I live. I hope that people are finding similar support in other regions of the country that have been hit by the storm and continue to pray for people from Galveston to Chicago who have had their worlds turned upside down from this hurricane.