Well, we survived.
It was not a pretty snow fall, it was a full on ice storm. Ten at night we had the power flicker and then fail. We stepped out and found the local Fire Department working on removing limbs from power lines up the street. Half-an-hour later the trucks drove away, the power came back up and we figured we’d had our storm moment.
Okay so I shouldn’t have said that.. but I did, my bad.
About one in the morning the whole house shook, the power failed and I was flung out of bed by a rather surprised Copper. We (carefully) peeked around outside, found several damaged trees in the yard, but with the snow and ice was pouring down on our heads, and nothing on top of the house, we decided to head back into the warm house. To prevent any power feedback or surges, I disconnected the main breaker to the house.
Dawn came around and let us look closer at the damage.
We quickly found the source of the power disruption, one of the oaks tore the power lines to the ground.
We discovered that telephone service was down and the cell phones could not get reception at the house. We (very carefully) hiked up to the main road and were able to find a few bars of cell service so we could check in with our employers.
Back at the house, I pulled out the portable station and pressed the battery into service. I needed power to get our cellular mini-repeater back on the air so we could find out what was going on outside our area and report the damage we had to the proper authorities.
With the power out we also lost our hot water heater. So how do we wash our hands and clean dishes? Easy. We’d filled several large thermos containers with boiling hot water the night before, one of these is reserved for hot drinks, the other becomes the hot water spigot for the sink.
We also broke out the camping stove to make a hot breakfast, and start boiling more water to replace what we’ve already used. We set up our temporary kitchen out on the front porch for a few reasons. First, open flame produces carbon-monoxide, something you don’t want inside your house. Normally you run the fan in your kitchen and can draw some of this up the flue – but the power is out so the fan won’t spin, will it? Secondly, being out front put us in a position to help any of our neighbors who might need assistance and enabled us to offer hot chocolate and coffee to the clean-up crews who came to help. I spent quite a few hours out here, not just boiling water but also cooking on the grill. After all, that freezer isn’t going to keep food cold for more than a day or two without power.
In between boiling water and chatting with the work crews and neighbors, we huddled inside with the cats who were as close to the heater as they could be without setting themselves on fire.
Phone service came back online after a while and I was able to add the DSL modem and wifi router to the battery box. I also pulled out a usb multi-charger so we could add power back into the cell phones and tablets. With internet restored we were also able to stream the local news stations over the web and figure out just how bad the storm had walloped the area.
We lived like this for several days until damage assessment teams from the power company drove down the street and realized that we were without power. Somehow they missed us, even though we submitted our storm reports. Remember how we were boiling water outside? Well that is the only reason we got power back after five days, I happened to spot the assessment team driving down the street and stopped them. Four hours, fifty feet of new power line, one new transformer, eleven trucks and two dozen linemen later, the power came back on.
~Geof “frozen solid” Franklin