Im told that within another month the state will come up with a total damage estimate for the storm that hit the city last Friday.
Over at Miss Virginias Mission House, they wont be adding any numbers to the states total. They were lucky.
Miss Virginias, on Hanna Street, had about 10,000 pounds of meat tucked in its freezer when the storm ripped through about 3 p.m. Friday and knocked out power. The mission was without power until sometime Saturday evening.
At Miss Virginias, though, officials kept the freezer and refrigerator doors closed, and the temperature inside the freezer rose only about 6 degrees. Thats less than the typical temperature rise that occurs when the staff opens the freezer to take out food for distribution.
Luckily, the power was off for only about a day. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says freezers can be without power for up to two days without any damage to the food.
Had the power been out for longer, it could have been a disaster for the mission. People all over the city were sitting on piles of food that were spoiling. Had the missions food become at risk, and if it had had to distribute the food, there might have been few takers.
I can understand why. Two days after the storm hit, there were still 60,000 people without power, and without power you cant microwave anything or cook on an electric stove. Even if you had a gas stove, with the power out and temperatures in the 90s, do you really want to be roasting things in the oven or frying on the top of the stove?
What I wonder is exactly how much food was actually lost as a result of the storm, which left nearly 40,000 homes and businesses without power for three days or longer.
I spent Sunday afternoon emptying the refrigerator and freezer of everything that had begun to spoil, filling a garbage can likely far beyond its recommended maximum weight.
I saved the jelly, though. Apple jelly lasts forever in or out of the refrigerator.
Then theres the freezer in the basement that has yet to be emptied. Everything there has been lost, but it was mostly frozen pizzas and other frozen dinners – things I generally dont eat.
I have no idea the value of all the food we lost in my house, but it was substantial. Just the basics – mayonnaise, salad dressing, orange juice, eggs, sausage, bacon, vegetables that got soggy, some meats, ice cream and that – would add up to an expensive trip to the grocery.
Add up everything, and the food I lost was worth a bundle.
Multiply all the food lost by the 40,000 homes that were without power for two or more days and were talking millions of dollars in losses, far more than the projected cost of cleaning up the downed trees in the city.
The state is going to be asking people to submit damage estimates. I dont know whether a bunch of wasted pizzas, TV dinners, meats, shrimp and ice cream counts as damage, but I dont think Im going to bother to report it. I didnt add the value up as I loaded it all into garbage bags and hauled it to the garbage can.
Besides, Im not going to get reimbursed by anyone for all the food turned to muck, so why bother?
In the future, Ill just buy less food, except for peanut butter and apple jelly. That stuff keeps in all weather.