The Rockford Files

The Perfect Storm

The chain saw screams as it hits the wood, then slides through the first few branches as if they were butter.  I toss them aside, and Jacob and Stephen each grab hold of one, dragging it, struggling, over to the gate and out onto the driveway.  It has been two weeks since the storm, but I hadn’t been able to borrow a chain saw until yesterday; even now, the only ones on the shelves of the hardware stores are electric.  Four days without power has convinced me that a noisy, smoky, gas-guzzling chain saw is the only way to go.

Here on East State Street, at our old house, city crews have already picked up the debris that our former neighbors had dragged to the curb.  It’s one of the few places in Rockford that seems to have returned to normal, as long as you don’t glance up at the jagged tops of the trees lining the main east-west route through the Forest City.  Keep your eyes on the ground, and the only sign of the storm is the occasional patch of dead grass between the sidewalk and the curb, turned brown and yellow by the weight of the debris—that, and the ever-increasing mound of branches in our driveway.

The storm had arrived around 4:17 A.M. on Saturday, July 5—not unexpectedly, but with a ferocity that no one could have predicted.  I woke to the sound of the pounding rain, grabbed my glasses, and looked out of the third-story window at the foot of the bed. ...

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