Settle back. This is a long post.

If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen some these photos and commentary already. But there has been too much going on the past few days not to memorialize it in a blog post.

Here goes.

The weather was finally warm enough and I had some free time to pressure-wash our deck. I do this — or force someone else to do it — every summer because the plastic/wood composite decking develops a skim of black mold. It is actually kind of a fun job; I sit in a deck chair, the spray blowback from the pressure washer keeps me cool, and the task itself is very satisfying in the way that coloring is satisfying.

press wash progress

I tried to take an in-process video of the nozzle erasing the mold, but it was too hard to control the wand one-handed. You will have to settle for this.

On Friday afternoon I had to quit around 3:00 pm for reasons; at around 6:00 the sky darkened and Smokey, checking the radar online, said, “There is heavy weather heading our way.”

Smokey is not generally inclined to understatement, but that one was a doozy.

The sky darkened the way it always does when a summer thunderstorm approaches… then it darkened to complete blackness.

The wind kicked up and the rain began.

We watched in awe as mature oaks 12″+ in diameter swayed in the wind as the rain blew sideways. The thunder and lightning was constant. We walked from window to window around the house to see what was happening, but eventually decided it was probably safest to watch through the windows on the lee side of the house. (Reading others’ comments on Facebook and in news stories, I realize we may have been among the very few who did not take shelter in the basement. Curiosity did not kill The Kat™. This time.)

After the storm had passed, we took stock.

broken window

A window had blown out in the (newly-cleaned) porch.

deck after

The deck post-storm.

new view to the lake

We did not used to be able to see the lake through here. Besides the downed trees in the foreground, there are two very large oaks down close to the shore. 

tree on van 1

This is the most spectacular sight. Amazingly, the only damage to the mini-mini-motorhome — which was parked near the house so I could pressure-wash the roof — is a smallish dent at the very back of the fiberglass roof. 

tree on van 2

Why yes, it WAS a good-sized tree.

tree on van 3.jpg

That was not the only tree that went down. I showed you this still-vertical one a couple months ago to display the huge cavity excavated by a pileated woodpecker. In this photo the cavity is hidden by the downed tree.

Because we had no electricity, we decided to go to town to get a bite to eat.

smokey on AL Lane

This is about 20 yards from our driveway. The downed tree and branches were too heavy for Smoke to move, so it was back home to nibble on a salami sandwich on an un-toasted English muffin. At least it was accompanied, for me, by a lovely — and still cool — glass of sauvignon blanc.

Even if the road pictured were passible, there were numerous other blockages on both gravel roads that lead to the paved township road, which was itself blocked in several places. Lots of trees down. The sound of chain saws was ever-present Friday evening and ever since.

Saturday dawned more or less and, happily, cooler. We had been suffering all week in hot muggy weather, which of course is what had fueled that intense storm. It would have added insult to injury to have that weather without air conditioning. (Note: white people’s problem. We contemplated what it is like in Puerto Rico since hurricane Maria and gave thanks for our repairable infrastructure.)

Surveying the damage in full daylight, we found this.

The corner of our roof. Photo at right is where it came from. The only damage appears to be a dent in the metal flashing.

All in all, we consider ourselves to be lucky. Around our lake, a tree went through the roof of one cabin, two pontoon boats were trashed by falling trees, and others lost many more trees than we did.

arch over drive

We now have an arch over the driveway.

Polk County has been declared a [potential] disaster area, depending on how much the clean-up and recovery costs are. Twin Cities TV story about the storm. Josh Hallberg, quoted in the story and shown in the video, is the guy who defeated me in the 2014 county board election. And that 5-1/2″ of rain in the rain gauge? That fell in less than an hour. (Our rain gauge blew over so we don’t know exactly how much we got.)

We have been without electricity or phone service since 7:26 on Friday evening. However, Smokey is exceedingly resourceful. He rigged a car battery to our (newly installed last summer!) fiber optic phone connection so that we can have internet when we need it. Today he got our smaller generator working. (The larger one will have to wait for a new gas tank, expected by the end of the month. Hopefully, we won’t need it by then.)

freezer cozy

A freezer cozy to keep the frozen food more-or-less frozen.


Enter the generator (outside on the deck; no need for its exhaust in the house): it is powering the freezer, plus charging two laptops, my pocket charger, an iPhone and an iPad. Electrons, at your service!

Word among the folks on our lake, one of whom apparently called the power company, is that we will be off-line possibly until the end of the week. I hope that is them tamping down expectations, but we are doing quite well thanks to my husband’s skills, not to mention his ingenuity and persistence. I keep checking the utility’s outage map; the blue dot marking our lake still does not have a yellow hard hat on it, which would signify a crew had been assigned. There are only 42 service addresses affected here, and fewer than ten are not are seasonal and weekend cabins; it makes sense that our lake will be low on the the priority list for power restoration.


On Saturday we were able to drive into town for a hot meal. The restaurant and bar were hopping! This is practically the entire population of Milltown, Wisconsin.

On Sunday Younger Son drove up to help out. The internet and generator situation were smoothed, the driveway was cleared of debris, and merriment abounded. We all went out for dinner as he left; on our way home we saw a caravan of five or six utility bucket trucks heading toward the turnoff to our lake. Sadly, they turned the other way.

branch on wire

Just one of the many hindrances to properly flowing electrons.

As I said, we are fairly lucky. No major damage, no injuries, and nowhere that we have to be in the next few days. Thanks to Smokey we have internet and electricity; I made arrangements to shower and top up our drinking water jugs at a friend’s house tomorrow, and if the outage continues through Wednesday another friend has offered use of her laundry facilities.

It is really a lot like camping, but being able to sleep in our own beds 😉

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9 Responses to Settle back. This is a long post.

  1. Oh gosh I’m glad you’re okay and didn’t get too much damage!

  2. Chris says:

    Oh, wow! I’m so glad that you’re ok and sustained minimal damage!

    I don’t remember what we had Friday evening. Here it was Saturday morning that was kind of nasty. Didn’t get hail, fortunately, but it was so dark the streetlights were on until noon!

  3. Kat says:

    Oh man! I am so glad you are safe (and I am hoping for a much sooner return of electricity for all of you!)

  4. gayle says:

    Golly! Glad you’re safe and with minimal damage considering the general devastation. Storms are scary and it looks like this one was a doozy!

  5. Carole Julius says:

    That was a powerful storm and I’m so glad your problems aren’t serious! Smokey is quite resourceful indeed and good for you for making the best of an uncomfortable situation.

  6. OH my gosh. Katherine!!!!!!!! Im so sorry. WOW. Im so glad you van survived without damage. That’s kind of unreal since you showed us the photo!!!! Oh my goodness. can we help you in anyway”

  7. Rhonda Brodbeck says:

    So lucky! Is your mini mini a RoadTrek? I recently acquired a 1997 Dodge 170 Popular and plan my first outing on Thursday!

  8. Nicole says:

    Wow! I’m so glad you’re safe. Hopefully things get back to business as usual soon!

  9. Pingback: Good news Tuesday, 12/20/22. | kmkat & her kneedles

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