Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Building Evacuation Part 2

Someone left this in our lobby.
I stood facing 3 firemen outside my condo door and asked if I had time to get my purse. "Ma'am, we're trying to clear the building as quickly as possible," one of them replied. I needed my shoes and coat, so I grabbed my purse as well and ran out my door carrying everything in my arms.

"You can put on your shoes," I was instructed by a baby-faced fireman.

I felt a little foolish, standing in the hallway in my socks, but heck- I was still half asleep. And something was bothering me. I felt like I was forgetting something. "Can I go back and lock my door?" I asked, remembering.

I ran back, grabbed my keys, locked the door and finally headed down the 15 flights of stairs.

In the lobby, it looked as though I was the first resident down. I was told to sign a sheet, so they could keep track of every resident. A woman appeared in the hallway in her pajamas and asked what was going on. I told her we had to evacuate. "I have to get ready for work!" she said in a panic, before running back to her condo.

I put my name on the list, walked out into the darkness and joined a few other people on one of the buses. Not much to do, so I tweeted:

"Just gets better and better! Building being evacuated at 6am due to elevated levels of CO."

Our bus driver was quite the character. People kept asking him questions but he was just there to keep the bus warm and move it if necessary. One woman asked when we could go back in and he answered, "Never!" Lucky for him, we all got the joke and he wasn't beaten to death.

I tried to sleep a little on the bus, but it wasn't comfortable and every time someone new got on there was that loud, "whoooosh" sound of the door opening. A paramedic mounted the bus stairs ("whoooosh!") and asked if anyone was experiencing any symptoms. We all shook our heads. He explained that the device he was holding would measure the amount of CO in our systems if anyone wanted it checked.

Scattered hands were raised, so he attached the clip to the nearest finger and worked his way down the aisle in my direction. He called out the results. "Zero!" "Zero!" No traces of CO. It was my turn, so I casually stuck out my index finger, fully expecting my number to be zero as well. "Four," he announced.

Say what, now? I was told that the number wasn't high enough to worry about but he was curious to know how close my apartment is to the elevator. "Right next door," I told him. "In fact, I can hear the elevator from my bed." "That's why," he said.

Well, that sucks, I thought. If we weren't evacuated, I could I decided not to go there. Instead, I noticed a rumbling in my stomach and wondered where I could get breakfast. There was no reason to stay on the bus and I'm sure the people around me didn't appreciate my hacking cough. I exited into the cold and dark morning, made sure it was OK for me to leave and headed down the circular driveway.

I could NOT believe the number of emergency vehicles parked in the street! A row of trees had blocked them from my view on the bus. Police cars, ambulances and fire trucks, all with lights flashing, made sort of a fortress in front of my building.

And across the street, I spotted our local news crew. I stopped in at the nearest eatery, saw that they had a TV on and tweeted:

"Wow- I found a cafe and they're talking about the situation on the news. The whole street is blocked off. I had no idea."

I became obsessed with tweeting, in fact. It calmed me somehow. Here's what I tweeted:

"I didn't even brush my hair this morning."

"Now I'm wandering aimlessly downtown. I feel like a homeless person. Wait. I guess I am."

"City and Red Cross have stepped in. We're sheltered at a senior center on the next block. Lunch."

"You know what I find frustrating? I have no tv or Internet access but there are 3 diff news crews outside. Wish I knew what they're saying."

"It's very pleasant. It's a senior center with a cafeteria, library, lounge... No sleeping facilities. I'd sure like to curl up on the floor and sleep! But I won't. I'm a frigging lady."

"They're going to give us an update in an hour and a half concerning whether or not we can sleep at home tonight."

"I'm gonna look for a chair in a corner where I can doze off (& hope I don't drool) I should be in bed with this cold."

"I have to hang out to hear the 2:00 update and then I'll split this scene. (homelessness has done something to my speech)"

"Oh wow- maybe it's fatigue but thinking about this morning w/ firemen pounding on the door and me running out just made me cry."

"Yeah, it's sleep deprivation. Everything's fine"

"Now I'm watching a group of seniors do seated exercises to WW2 music. #weirdday"

"In a few minutes I'll know where I can go to get some rest."

"I'm tweet babbling. Twabbling? Update presented by building management, fire dep't and the city about to start"

"You can tell the difference between the update people and the residents. The updaters have had showers."

"CO levels fine. Heat back on (?). No elevators. Water still rising in basement. If that can be reversed by 6:00-we can go in."

"Husband called (he's out of town). His boss said I could sleep at their house tonight if I need to."

"I turned off my phone and tried to sleep in the empty lounge in a chair. Other ppl found this oasis, tho and woke me up."

"Had to buy a phone charger and find a place to plug it in."

"We're not allowed back into the bldg except to get essentials. Must be escorted in by fireman"

"I just walked to my car w/ a friend from the condo to make sure it would start. It did! We were concerned coz it's been sitting outside for 2 days & temps have been brutal"

"Still waiting for my date with a fireman."

"I'm afraid I'll show up at my friend’s house and just collapse in her arms, sobbing. So tired"

"Tonight's parting gift:"

"Finally my turn to climb 15 flights to get my toothbrush"

"Actually, the red cross gave me a toothbrush. I was kidding.  I needed my migraine meds, which I take daily. (preventive)"

"Finally-I'm in a nice warm bed and I told my friend I may sleep til noon. :)"

Next morning:

"I really did sleep til noon! I slept for 12 hours."

"I just found out we can go back into our apartments!! Yay- hope they know what they're doing!! Hope I don't get woken up again!!"

"Firefighter told me during our 15 flight climb last night that the CO levels were at 200 parts per million the morning they evacuated. They evacuate at 30!!"

"Nothing like starting the new year alive."

A bizarre week.


Anonymous said...

What an experience! I'm glad you wrote this blog to keep the details alive. You also had the foresight to take pictures. Caryl, maybe you should have been a reporter! And to think that Greg missed all this fun!

Love, Mom

Shelley-Lynne Domingue said...

I love Twitter Babbling - Twabbling.
And Homelessness has done something to my speech. lol
when you can keep your sense of humour you can survive anything. Glad it all turned out okay.

פינוי דירה said...

First, depending on the age of your children, you may encounter a range of reactions, from enthusiasm to rolled eyes and sarcasm. Do not be discouraged, this is a simple matter of your family's safety and maybe even their life and death. Go into this with a positive attitude; try to keep it upbeat and encouraging.