02 September 2011

I wonder how many people have used the title "Goodnight, Irene" for blog posts this week?

Last weekend was the hurricane weekend, and I figured in NEPA there wouldn't be much of a problem. Some rain, sure. Lots of it, I thought. So Saturday night we rented a movie from Redbox and watched it, or more accurately our son watched it, while I put our daughter to bed and fell asleep doing so and my wife fell asleep supposedly watching the movie. When my wife and I woke up in the middle of the night, the wind was up. I remembered to tie down the patio umbrella and shuffled off to bed.

Sunday when we woke up, we had no power. Not the biggest deal, as we've been there before, but something of an inconvenience. Maybe more so than you'd think.

No power at our country abode means no water after a few flushes of toilets and brushes of teeth -- forget a shower -- because we're on well water. No electricity means no well pump. So we were quickly following the "if it's yellow..." rule.

One of the trees that had contributed to the power outage happened to be lying across our driveway, so that was impassable, which wasn't actually a problem for us. In fact, we didn't fret much over it, since we couldn't get to our cars anyway. They were in the detached garage that has no entry point except the automatic garage doors.

It was all so brilliant.

One of the doors has a keyhole that supposedly would detach the door from the automatic opener chain, but I'm not very confident in that device given how much slack is in the line and the force I know it requires to detach the doors from the chains. Anyway, I couldn't find the key. I know it was in a little dish, the sort of thing you're supposed to use to put peanuts or cashews in if you're having friends over for bridge, or maybe the sort of thing you throw hardly used keys, safety pins, random buttons, and pennies into.

Couldn't find it. Still haven't found it.

So the cars were trapped. All rechargeable devices were losing power, but luckily we still have a land line. We called the power company who weren't overly impressed with the fact that one of their lines was stretched tight under one of the downed trees in our yard, or that we weren't only without power but also without water and with no means to go out and get some. When they did finally show up Sunday night, after we'd used the land line to call Domino's Pizza (all other pizza establishments nearby having lost power as well), they restored power without checking the line to our house.

It's too bad, really, since the ground had snapped on the line to our house. The resulting power surge fried anything we had connected to 220 or 240 volt plugs: clothes dryer, wall oven, and range. It also fried all of our clock radios, several power strips, and oddly enough nearly every lamp we had purchased at Ikea.

We didn't find out these items were fried until an electrician came out on Monday to fix the line, and I won't go into the details of how the power company claimed they were killing the line and how the electrician found out the line wasn't dead at all, but needless to say even though power has been restored to the house, without an oven or a clothes dryer, you're still not in great shape. Also the refrigerator appears to have been damaged by the surge: it's cooling off the food that remains, but its exterior is extremely hot to the touch.

The garage, meanwhile, remains without power, since a tree had actually taken out the electrical mast. However, the electrician hooked a generator up to the panel long enough for us to operate the garage doors and get the cars out. I also took the opportunity to release a door from the chain so we can access the garage until electricity is restored. Another friend brought over a gas powered chainsaw (mine is electric), and it didn't take long to clear the driveway.

In one year I'm going to have plenty of firewood.

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