Saturday, August 16, 2008

Power Outage and What to Do in One

Friday night at a few minutes after 5:00 pm the power went out. Four hours and fifteen minutes later the power came back on.

What to do with no power and a warm house getting darker?

Cuss at the PG and E (our local utility). This does not bring the power back on but it lets off enough steam so that when the phone call is made the caller (me) can be polite.

Call the utility company. 8000 households are affected. A large portion of my city. Wow! I am not alone, but that doesn't make it better. No word as to what is causing the outage. Should be back on in less than two hours. Do you want a call to let you know when power is restored? This is not as redundant as it sounds, since it includes the option to get more help if the power has not been restored. I say yes and then realize after hanging up that the answering machine is not going to pick up. It's electric.

Wait. Wait some more. Water plants outside. Outside there are no clocks and time is irrelevant and I can enjoy the plants. Talk to my sister and listen to the ticking of the battery clock. Not even the refrigerator is running.

Need batteries for the battery operated lantern to work and the thing is out of my reach anyway. Give it a better spot and buy batteries. In the meantime, it is getting dark outside. Close sliding screen doors, gather together flashlights and a few other things. It is better to go to the bathroom in the dusk than use flashlights in the dark. Crawl into bed and wait. Now it is too dark to see the clock--should have luminescent battery operated clock--so turn on flashlight to see what time it is. Notice that cordless phone does not work--it is connected to an electric power base. Solar rechargeable batteries would make so much more sense here.

Want to fall asleep and wake up when small night stand lamp comes on and the thrum of the refrigerator running wakes me up. No such luck. No sleep. That is what I get for drinking four cups of coffee in one day--twice as much as usual. Wish I had bought a battery operated clip on light so that I could be reading the book I am reading, Mary Stewart's, The Hollow Hills, book two of her Arthurian saga.

Toss and turn. Realize how boring the power outage is, but give thanks that it is not a heat wave or the middle of winter. Almost fall asleep when something changes and I realize the light is on and the refrigerator running.

Do we take power for granted? Oh, my yes we do! Should we? NO. We should indeed be looking for energy independence, not only for our country, but for areas and individuals as well.

The power outage lasted four and one-quarter hours, much longer than was necessary. I believe that first we waited for the crew to come through rush hour traffic. They should be empowered to use sirens and flashing lights just like other emergency vehicles--they are emergency vehicles. This would have cut the initial waiting time. I am sure the next segment of waiting was due to the fact that the new transformer had to be driven from Sacramento, a two and one-half hour drive, if they made good time. These things should be closer. Profit driven utility companies endanger public safety. Let's change this and take back the economy for the people.

Neighbors posted on the list today that their solar panels give them nine hours of battery back-up. This is at the top of my want list. Next is a gas wall heater in my bedroom. I can dream.

Tonight I am grateful for the lights and the power that allows me to sit here and type and blow of steam. I also hope that my desktop computer survived. I think the surge protector is old. The clock was wrong when I booted it up last night to see if everything was all right.

All in all it was an adventure that I truly did not need and could have done without. I am still here though, so that is good. I guess.

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