News about me, and my thoughts, jokes, and stuff.

Sean's Blog

Powerlessness

[Just to note, this is my 200th blog post.]

So, last Saturday, in the midst of the snowstorm (which I wrote about in my last post), I headed out to an event at a church in another town.  The event was a piano concert given by a friend of mine, preceded by a supper.  I arrived at the church to find its power out, but the food had been prepared (in gas ovens) and dining was taking place by candlelight.  The concert was being postponed.

After supper, I gave said friend a ride home, and then went home myself, and while a lot of snow had fallen since I’d headed out, the power was still on at our place… for 30 more minutes.

The power blinked out around 8:30pm or so, and once it became apparent that it wasn’t coming back on right away, we got out the candles.  While we aren’t the type who burn candles normally, we have collected a lot of tea lights and tapers (many of them Halloween ones bought on sale after the holiday in the past – so they were seasonally appropriate), and have a number of holders that we could put them in.  The dining table became the land o’ candles for the next few days.

For many people in the area, losing power meant losing heat.  Fortunately, our house has a wood-burning stove that we use as the main heat source, and it requires no electricity.  The house also has baseboard water registers heated by an oil burner, and the oil also heats our hot water supply.  Since the burner needs electricity to run, we did have some outlying areas of the house that didn’t get so warm, and we didn’t have reliable hot water for showers.  Our electric stove wouldn’t work either, but we discovered (through some experimentation) that we could cook scrambled eggs on the wood stove, so that served as our breakfast on Sunday and Monday.  We also were able to use the wood stove to reheat some soup that I’d made on a previous day.

What we felt the keenest lack of (besides light at night) was Internet connection.  Our phones could get some connectivity through the cell network, but tower signal seemed to get more spotty as the outage wore on.  We ended up going elsewhere Sunday afternoon for some network and power to charge phones and laptops.

While out on Sunday, we also decided to look for open restaurants.  The only place we found was Antonio’s Pizza in downtown Amherst.  They had no power, but since they have gas ovens, and there was enough daylight to see one’s way around in the place, they were furiously making pizzas and selling slices (for cash only), to a crowd that was lined up out the door.  We duly waited our turn and moved through surprisingly quickly, and it was nice to have hot pizza.

The power was still out all through Monday, though I wasn’t home for much of it as I went to work, where there was power.  Having charged the cell phone on Sunday, I used its alarm to wake up in the morning.  Getting to work took longer than usual, as the first two routes I tried driving were blocked by downed power lines.  On Monday evening, I spent most of my time doing the same thing I had done Saturday and Sunday evenings – reading by candlelight.  It can be fun, although some of what I read was graphic novels with dark panels, so it wasn’t as easy as if I’d had more light.

I set the phone alarm again when I went to bed that night, but around 3:30 in the morning, the power came back on (the hallway light came on and woke us up).  I got up and set some clocks, and the normal alarm, and then turned off lights.

Again, we’ve been more fortunate than a lot of people.  Our power has been back on for almost 48 hours, but there are still thousands of households without power, and some co-workers have told me they don’t expect to have theirs back on before this coming weekend.  This is definitely the largest power outage I’ve ever experienced, both in terms of how widespread it is and how long it is lasting, but I’ve also never seen so many trees and limbs knocked down by a storm as I’ve seen the last few days.  The only real saving grace is that we’re still in the Autumn, and while the nights are cold, temperatures are not too bad during the day, and the weather since Saturday has been sunny, helping to warm things.  This whole episode would have had much worse consequences for residents if it had happened in January.  Hopefully we won’t get a similar storm during the winter.

 

Posted by seaking on 11-02-2011 at 10:11 pm
Posted in Meta, News

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