Sometimes you just hate being right. “We’re going to be out for a week,” I announced Monday morning when the day started without power. Throughout the course of the day I spoke with several folks who thought the outages would be much shorter, with the good weather in our favor. Sounded totally reasonable, but it was not to be.
The next day I figured we had better take in a few things for our emergency supplies, mostly batteries for the LED flashlights, and I expected to see empty shelves. I remembered that when I was small my mother noticed and complained about empty shelves at the store if the word “snow” was so much as breathed in the suburb where I grew up.
I can even recall her noting some obscure item they were out of, like ketchup. People would rush to the store and grab whatever was on the shelves. I guess that was a different time. Now we are advised to maintain a week’s worth of emergency supplies, including water and food for a week. The store seemed sort of quiet. Either most people were just generally prepared or they were tricked into a day-by-day scenario, which was played out rather neatly on CMP’s outage reporting line.
“Assessing, assessing, assessing.” Funny, I can hear that in a nasally robotic tone as I type this. Oh, not the cheerful “Wendy” who would robocall every night between 7 and 8. The first night I missed the call, and when playing back the voicemail directing me to “press three if you have no power,” I repeatedly tried to press three. I called Wendy back, even though she said I didn’t need to, and the line was busy. Guess she was really burning up the phone lines. 474,000 customers wanted their power back.
Finally, as I called it an early night, I got through to CMP and reported for the second time that no, we didn’t have power.
I am sure I am preaching to the choir in regards to all the Lincoln County readers! In case you didn’t know, we got clobbered. Just about every town in Lincoln County was completely out of power.
I know this because I am the proud parent of an “on-schedule-to-the-minute” high schooler who began every morning with the report of “no school” and then an update on the CMP outage line.
I stuck to my guns: “It’s going to be a week.”
Well, we didn’t think it would be a week of no school on top of a week without power! A lot of people I spoke with were taken by surprise. Yes, I ran into the occasional “never lost power” and “my husband gassed everything up on Saturday,” but I also ran into a lot of, “I had no idea.”
I had heard we were in for a lot of wind and rain. But we had just brushed off over 7 inches of rain a few days before. That was how much we got in this neighborhood. My neighbor up above recorded a quarter-inch more.
Sunday was fairly uneventful, and when I awoke Monday to word of a two-hour school delay, and then our road blocked above and below, I started to wonder. I opted to let the geese out before 8 a.m., and as so often happens to me, I found myself drawn down the road to check things out. I wanted to see the downed tree that was blocking us in – we were on a two-hour delay and my high schooler must stay on schedule!
I started chucking tree limbs out of the way before I reached the road, and continued doing so up around the corner. The wind was fierce, and I kept an uneasy eye toward the trees waving and bowing above my head. I rounded the corner and saw a pretty good-sized dead fir tree lying across the road, so I dragged the top out of the way and started in on the limbs. I could hear a sound on the wind, and stopped to listen over the roar and crash of trees all around. A chainsaw!
I could see emergency personnel up the road clearing a downed tree. We passed each other so they could cut the fir trunk and I continued on the road to pick up the junk further on. Several hours later I made the rounds again. I met my neighbor on the road, and we walked a good stretch of road kicking branches out of the way.
The next morning found us closed in again, with a big tree down on the line. A brave soul took it upon themselves to cut it out of the roadway, but the line lay broken for the rest of the week.
I feel pretty strongly that communications failed overall. Anyone following the outage reporting website and receiving robocalls knows what I am talking about. When you aren’t going to have a fridge or freezer for a week, it would be nice for those in charge to have the nerve to come out and tell you.
The local community here was “all over it.” Hats off to Somerville Fire Chief Mike Dostie and crew for keeping the roads cleared and the station going for folks to get water and charge devices.
We’ve invested a lot of money in electrical infrastructure in the last 20 years. No, I am not a CMP spokesman – just look at your monthly bill and over half your bill goes for delivery service. That’s to keep up the service.
I wholeheartedly agree with the idea of microgrids – and to further that, underground service to them. This whole system of overhead lines is so draconian we might as well be sending messenger pigeons to each other on road closings.
The amount of dams that are on the chopping block (or have been chopped) in Lincoln County and surrounding communities is incredible. These dams have stood here for many, many years. It seems a shame than communities cannot get grant money to get a tiny bit of hydro from some of these sites to run – at least – the immediate neighborhood.
I also feel that the amber alert system could be adapted so that people can receive alerts about road closings and downed lines. We have so much advanced technology at our fingertips, it seems counterintuitive to keep folks in the dark – both literally and figuratively.
If my batteries are dead on my cellphone, just send me a pigeon.