Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Night the Lights Went Out in Webster

When the sirens went off yesterday afternoon, Jim, Kirby and I headed for the basement, flashlights and a crank generated radio in tow. At 4:30 the power went off. We were cautiously optimistic that the wind had only knocked the power out, but when the storm passed we headed outside. Two doors down a 150 year old oak had fallen across Swon Avenue, taking the power lines down with it. We have been in this situation before, and because only a couple dozen houses are impacted we are waaaaay down on the priority list. What makes it more annoying is that the people across the street never lose power. Apparently they are hooked into the transformer that takes care of the courthouse and police/fire station. Whether it is buried or what, I don't know. But I can tell you that as time crawls by with no power for us and their houses blaze with light, nasty thoughts enter my head. Our basement fills with water and our food spoils, and they watch television and play on their computers. At that point in time, they don't care if we are in the National Historic District and they aren't. They have the power!

Fortunately we have a gas stove, so I was able to make pancakes and eggs for supper. Then I showered early to take advantage of what little light was coming through the bathroom window in the gloomy evening. By 8:30 I was in bed attempting to read by the light of candles and a portable book light. At 9:30 I gave up and went to sleep. Jim in the meantime was worried about the water in the basement, and he and the next door neighbor located a generator to power up our respective sump pumps. (We have a generator but Jim couldn't get it to work. That's helpful, right?) A lady around the corner had the balls to come over later and tell them to turn it off because she and her husband couldn't sleep. She didn't care that our possessions were being destroyed by the water.

Since I had gone to sleep so early, I woke up at 5:30 to complete silence. No hum of electricity in the air. Nor any sound of the generator going next door. Uh, oh... The basement wasn't too flooded, fortunately, so Jim waited until 7:30 to purchase more gas for the generator so he could fire it up again. In the meantime, he was down in the basement attempting again to start ours. He got it going for a bit, and before long the gas fumes permeated the main floor of the house. If his beloved dog wasn't by my side, I would have suspected he was going after my life insurance policy! Even I know you aren't supposed to run those things inside a building. "Well, I had it by the back door and the door was open," he said. Yeah, tell it to the coroner, I was thinking. Honestly, the house still smells like gasoline, despite burning candles and opening windows to let in the 55 degree cool air.

I had enough light coming in the windows to cut fabric for the wall quilt I am making for the remodeled bathroom. At least the whole morning wasn't a waste. The power finally was restored at 12:30 this afternoon. You just don't appreciate how much we rely on electricity until you don't have it. So here's a tip of the bonnet to Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can have your little house on the prairie. I'll keep my house on Maple with its electricity. Except when it storms...

1 comment:

Mrs. Wryly said...

Oh, gosh, I had to laugh about the cranky neighbor.

Brings back the memories of the storm a couple of summers ago when we discovered that our little street was on the Sri Lanka grid, while the rest of our subdivision was on the same one as the fire station and Starbucks.

Glad you're back "on"!