I just spent 3 days in my neighborhood, AND the 3 surrounding towns without power. Well, WE had power, our little sky castle, but everyone else (of those on grid power) were without power. On Sunday afternoon, we were in our second or third day of freezing fog and drizzle, most people had gone into town and stocked up on supplies, mostly food and water type stuff. I was at the grocery store myself to stock up on supplies for the week because of family coming out for the week of Thanksgiving.
I was somewhat surprised at the number of people in the store the week before Thanksgiving, I expected to see it that busy later on in the week, then I remembered we were in for a few days of freezing weather, fog and sleet. I noticed several shelves that were cleaned out, fully cleaned out of whatever had been there, it made me think of the way people will clear out a store when things are going wrong.
On Sunday, while getting ready for family to arrive for a near week long visit, there was a thick layer of ice on everything, we were worried about our family making it safely across Texas. We had been in phone contact with them, and watching the weather online, when the power went out. We quickly discovered it was out in the whole neighborhood, the only reason we knew the power had gone out was because out internet connection ceased to exist. Our internet connection relies on grid power.
At this point, I figured we wouldn’t be without power in the neighborhood for long, little did we know that it would last 3 days. 3 days doesn’t seem like a long time, AFTER the power comes back on, but during the time it’s out, it seems like an eternity. Of course for us, we had power, lights, water, heat… everyone else was sitting in the dark, in sub freezing weather, during those days, the highs never got above freezing. Some people out here rely fully on electricity to keep warm, I wonder how they got through, I also know that the people in the immediate neighborhood rely on electricity to pump their water (from wells and/or tanks), that is IF their water lines weren’t frozen solid.
On beginning of the second day, we knew our neighbor’s refrigerator was going to start having trouble, we had food in that fridge as well as our fridge, so using about 300 feet of a heavy extension cord, we hooked our neighbor’s fridge up to our power. This is the second time in several years that we have had to do that, the last time was when the power was out for 4 days because of a huge wildfire.
Fortunately we didn’t have to keep it going for long, by the third day, the power came back on, I learned later that some of the surrounding towns were without power for another day. It was another day or two before the internet came back on. Of course, if the power had stayed off and we couldn’t maintain our neighbor’s refrigerator, we COULD have removed the food and kept it outside in a secure (from critters) location and it would have been just fine as long as the temps stayed cold.
This just reinforced the need to be ready to as many problems (short term AND long term) as possible. Even though WE had power, communications were broken, with no internet connection, there was phone service still in the neighborhood BUT most everyone out here has cordless phones, I’m talking about land lines, cell phones generally don’t work out here.
Here is the problem, cordless phones REQUIRE power to work, we wanted to make a phone call and had to go to a friend’s house across the neighborhood to make that call, she has a corded phone that works without power.
Something I am going to do asap is go to the store in town and buy a plain-Jane corded phone to keep around as a backup. We HAD one many years ago, but it’s been long lost, we sorely need another one. I feel fortunate that this was our biggest problem, not having ready communications, it could have been a lot worse, and for many people, it WAS a lot worse. Each time we go through something like this, it helps us to be more ready for the next problem.
One thing we didn’t have trouble with is heat, we heat with wood and propane (mostly wood), I wondered how those who are all electric dealt with the lack of heat. It’s imperative to have a backup source of heat as well as a way to cook and lights. Everything else is secondary. Even those who use gas (propane or natural gas in town) to heat their homes, most of them rely on electricity to blow the heat around their homes and without power, their gas heaters are useless. My immediate neighbor has that problem, he heats with propane, BUT without electricity his heaters would not function.
This was but a tiny taste of what could happen, and although we are personally ready for many things, we know that most around us are not ready, I am hoping that this experience has encouraged everyone to have backups of the things necessary for life.
BTW, our family made it out safely, we spent those 3 days with heat, lights and the necessities for life, now things are back to normal. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, we are truly thankful for what we have and what we are prepared for.
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