Phillepe aftermath…Day one. A tale of survival

Dawn brought an automated call from RSU 64 Superintendant Rhonda Sperry at 6:45 telling us there would be no school because of a power failure.

I turned on the TV hoping to fall back to sleep while watching StarTrek Enterprise. I was eating Chocolate Peanut Butter Cherioes from the box when tragedy struck…We lost power!

I shouted “ALL IS LOST!” and rousted my family.

We made the decision to flee our home. It was not a decision that was difficult to make. No power meant no water, no cooking, and NO INTERNET!

We loaded into the Dodge Grand Caravan preparing to drive off into the storm. Our free ranged chickens had taken shelter under the van,

As I started the engine the chickens scurried away and were caught in a gust of wind. They cleared the treetops in a matter of seconds and were soon blown out of sight.

(If folks in the Exeter area could keep an eye out for a small flock of bantams, I would appreciate it!)

We had barely gotten out of our driveway when we encountered the first tree in the road. Thankfully what looked like a volunteer with a farm tractor had braved the heavy winds, and driving rain to cut up and move the larger trees to maintain at least a single lane.

In less than a mile there were 6 trees or heavy branches in the road. Our plan was to flee to the home of our friends Jenna, and Zachary. They have a generator.

I prayed the roads would remain passable until we made the twenty-mile trip.

Somehow we managed to reach the north bound lane of Interstate 95. Heavy winds and sheets of rain reduced safe traveling speeds to about 60 MPH.

When the wind hit the broad side of the van we would lurch to the left. The possibility of the van being blown off the road and stranding us in the overgrown median was very real, and we could all sense it.

My loving son Will stated, “If we have to resort to cannibalism, I say we eat dad first”

Thankfully we reached our exit safely and continued on toward Hampden. We didn’t make it far before we saw a line of tail lights.

We pulled up to the last car in line, and since I hadn’t seen any oncoming traffic, I continued down the road in the opposite lane for a quarter of a mile before I saw the problem. A live wire down across the road.

I was certain I could make it under the wire, but I decided not to risk it and turned back to the highway.

Downed traffic lights near Hannaford in Hampden

At the next exit, I made my way into the town of Hampden where we found police directing traffic because the traffic lights had broken loose and were dangling just above the road.

We dodged a few more limbs in the road and made our way toward our destination. There was a lot of debris in the road with sawed up trees and limbs on the shoulders indicating that as it had been in Stetson, volunteers were keeping the roads open.

Finally, with less than a mile to go, it seemed we would have to turn around again. Another utility pole had snapped off. The top of the pole was blocking a lane, and a grounding cable was on the road.

A pick-up truck closest to the pole was going to attempt to get under it. He had already had to detour in two other places and was frustrated.

I knew if he made it, we could too. But before we could decide one way or the other, a volunteer showed up and lifted the pole up with his bare hands.

Truthfully I am glad he was successful because if he had been zapped I would have had to risk my life attempting to rescue him!

In the end, we made it safely! For now, the generator is running. The Internet is working. There is enough food, so my loving family and friends won’t have to slaughter me for food.

All is right in our little corner of the world! God bless Zack and Jenna! They are more than just friends!! They are family!!!

I pray the rest of you are warm and dry!

Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.