Friday, September 10, 2010

Can lightning strike twice?

I very rarely swim in the ocean due to my intense fear of sharks. When Rich discovered this little quirk at the beginning of our relationship, he said, "Do you know what the odds of being attacked by a shark are? You're more likely to get hit by lightning. You'll be fine."

The odds of having your healthy full term baby born still is .5 to 1%.

And what about the odds of conceiving spontaneous identical triplets? I have seen so many different statistics on that but the one I like the most is one in a million.

I was seeing a high risk OB (also known as a MFM) at the start of my pregnancy because it had been determined that I was at a higher risk of having another baby born still. My doctor was the "head of high risk" and had been at this particular Boston hospital for 13 years. During that tearful conversation after the girls were discovered, Rich and I were told that in his 13 years of practice at that hospital, I was only his second patient to conceive identical triplets. The first had been 13 years earlier.

Granted there are many great hospitals in Boston and even more doctors but I like to tell that story to put it into perspective. As we were gathering our things and ourselves to walk out of my doctor's office that day, he told us to go buy a lottery ticket.

Wednesday morning, the sky was dark and thunder rumbled in the distance as Rich and I waited for our train into the city. Rich said, "I hope the rain holds off until the train gets here." I agreed. And then a bolt of lightning cut across the sky in front us a little too close for comfort. "Ahhhh," I said, "We may have to go inside if the train isn't here soon. Knowing my luck, I'll get hit by lightning."

A few hours later, Rich calls me at work and says, "The house was hit by lightning."


I was envisioning our 1880's Victorian cottage full of blood, sweat and tears (and new tenants) up in flames. No. Our current house had been struck.

So the story, as Grammy tells me, is that she was in the kitchen at the sink while the girls (after much begging and pleading) were in the family room watching a DVD or "bideo" as Allie calls it. The television is above the fireplace mantel. The girls were in front of the fireplace. Suddenly, there was a loud noise and the house shook. Grammy said that is sounded and felt like something had crashed into the house. The lights turned off and then flashed back on. My poor babies were scared and crying.

Grammy didn't want to go outside because of the lightning so she began to look out the windows to see if anything was out of place. She finally spotted some chunks of concrete in the yard. Our neighbor, who was working from home in an office facing that side of our house, came outside when she saw Grammy out there trying to figure out what had happened. The neighbor said, "That lightning had to have hit something. Our house shook and our internet connection blew out."

That's when they determined that lightning had struck the top of our chimney. The chimney connected to the fireplace in front of which the girls were standing, watching television. Over the phone, I suggested to Rich that someone contact the fire department. There was a news story earlier in the summer of a house that had been hit by lightning in the early morning hours. The family thought that everything was fine and didn't realize that wires were smoldering in their walls until a fire broke out a few hours later.

The fire department arrived fairly quickly and while inspecting the attic, the lights tripped again. They didn't see or smell any signs of fire but to be safe placed a call to the town's electrical inspector. They also called the building inspector so he could determine if there was any structural damage. The electrical inspector didn't see or smell any signs of burnt wires and cleared us. Emily reminded me this morning (Friday), that we are still waiting for the building inspector.

I'll have to use my zoom lens to see if I can get a better picture of the chimney but for now you can see in the middle that the cement cap is missing and the bricks are damaged.


Here's a shot of the yard. I didn't expect the pieces to be so scattered. Thank goodness no one was outside and that no cars are over there.


There were also a ton of little pieces. Rich picked them all up yesterday morning as someone was coming to mow our lawn. As evidence of how forcefully the strike was, Rich said that some of the smaller pieces of cement were really wedged into the ground.


Our phone, cable television and internet is all through Comcast. Rich called them, from work, on Wednesday afternoon to report that the wireless internet, phone and cable tv were not working. This is what Rich wrote to me in an email when I asked what was going on: They want me to do some trouble shooting, which is impossible to do from work.

Okay, troubleshooting? How's this for troubleshooting?

Dear Comcast,

Our house was struck by lightning. We pay you enough money. You do the trouble shooting. Thankyouverymuch.

So here's where things stand now:
  • Someone needs to inspect the chimney and give us an estimate of how much it will cost to repair.
  • The television in the master bedroom will not turn on. The electrician told us it needs to be replaced.
  • The television in the family room does work but there is no sound. Comcast cable is not working. (Interestingly enough, the television in the basement is working with cable just fine.)
  • The internet is not working. We are able to connect to our wifi modem, which doesn't appear to have been damaged, but the modem will not connect to the internet.
  • The furnace is not working. An initial assessment by the electrician indicates that the control panel was blown out and will need to be replaced.

  • Our landline phones are not working.

Our insurance will cover the cost of repairs and replacement televisions but we have a $1,000 deductible.

Our neighbor's modem was fried and she had to have it replaced. They have DSL and are not dealing with Comcast so I'm sure they are back up and running already.

I am extremely thankful that no one was injured in the incident. This was a powerful electrical storm in which three individuals in Massachusetts were either killed or injured from the lightning. I'm still a little freaked out by the fact that the girls were standing directly underneath the spot that was struck. The girls seemed to have recovered. It appears that autumn weather has arrived so we may not have another storm like that for another 8 months or so. I would say that they will probably have forgotten about the incident but they remember everything.

As I was dressing them this morning for preschool orientation, Allie looked at Em's dress and said, "Those are the doctor appoinment dresses. Are the shots still in them?" She was referring to their 3 year check-up (and booster shot) from April!


Janet Dillon Robinson said...

Wow!!!! That is an incredible story, especially hearing that some of the pieces were wedged into the lawn! I'm so sorry to hear about all of the damage. Hopefully everything gets sorted out soon! Best of luck with Comcast, for how much they cost they should send someone out! :)

The Beers Family said...

Glad you are all OK! It was a scary storm. Our satellite dish (or the tree next to it) was struck about 10 years ago and blew up all of our electronics - thank goodness for the Monster surge protector that took the brunt of the hit - it exploded and singed but no fire. Lightning is a scary thing.

Kris said...

And I love the last line best .... A reason to smile :)

Jennifer said...

crazy! i like how you put all the stats in there too. comcast, that is a horror story in and of itself.

Hope's Mama said...

How absolutely terrifying. I'm always worrying about lightning striking again. Both metaphorically speaking and now, literally as well!
Glad everyone is ok. That's of course the main thing. Don't we know it.

Julia said...

I am sorry about the whole mess and glad no one was hurt! Hope the damage is easy and quick to repair.