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Wednesday night, 8pm, San Telmo. I am annoyed by the woman dithering at the top of the Subte stairs as I come out of the subway. Then I see the rain. I dither alongside her, finding my umbrella and pulling on my jacket. I open my umbrella and start to walk because it seems like regular rain; easy to handle.

I am splashing up the main avenue towards the bank when suddenly the rain stops. Fantastic – a soft, cool breeze and I’ve put the umbrella down. I’ve almost made it to the bank when from nowhere the wind picks up and what seems like a wave of rain floods across the road from my left. The deluge turns the pavements to puddles then to mini-rivers in seconds. I barricade myself between a newspaper kiosk and a wall with an overhanging balcony. Fat lightning skewers hit the ground, a glass door on the restaurant opposite is wrenched from its hinges and shatters. Wheelie bins fly down the street and the power goes off.

Image from TN website

I make a dash to the bookshop to find the top floor flooded and our teacher trying to move the boxes to protect the books. We sit shivering in wet clothes discussing Malamud as the wind howls outside.

At home trees and branches are blown down and strewn across the garden. The top of the water tank is shattered over the newly exposed roots of the towering pine tree that now tips at an angle towards the construction site in the next-door lot.

Our uprooted pine

Mario comes to collect me by car and we weave in and out of the stalled traffic on the freeway, dodging crazy drivers and felled billboards and plastic awnings. The toll booths are deserted and in darkness (some were blown off their foundations in other parts of the city) and we pass through periodic patches of darkness as the lights fail across the city.

At home we have no power. The whole neighbourhood has no power. It is the Easter holidays and there is a shortage of workers, and a shortage of parts. We could be in for a long wait……