TWENTY-SIX HOURS WITHOUT POWER

Electricity is such a constant and useful part of our lives that we’re helpless without it. I had this fact amply demonstrated on July 12, 2010 when a severe weather system knocked out the power to my home for twenty-six long hours.

While I was shaving at about 8:30 A.M, the power suddenly failed. I thought this was strange as we had no storms in the area at the time. As soon as I finished, I called the power company to report the outage. Because I had no electricity to run my computers and the UPS back ups wouldn’t last for more than a few minutes, I listened to two audio magazines on cassette.

At 11:00, somebody from the alarm monitoring company called to ask about why my system sent a low battery alert. I explained that we had a power outage and that I had to get off the line as there was a thunder storm overhead.

I called the power company after lunch and felt discouraged by the recorded list of blacked-out areas in the province. After being on hold for a half hour, I spoke to a man who told me the repair crews were working “flat out” and would restore service as soon as possible.

As Canada Pension Plan expects me to seek some sort of gainful employment each working day, I considered what writing-related tasks I could do while the power was out. A woman from Edmonton ordered a copy of <i>When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies)</i> on the previous Thursday but I was too ill to fill it promptly. Fortunately, the blackout didn’t effect my accounting as I still use old-fashioned books. I wrote a receipt, packaged the paperback, and placed it in my bag, awaiting posting the next day.

The power continued to be out all evening. I had wisely bought a gas stove the previous year so I was able to make hot drinks and cook supper. When I moved to this house ten years ago, I foolishly had an electric stove installed without realizing how many times the power would be interrupted.

After supper, I listened to a battery-powered radio with a built in dynamo power generator. When the sky grew dark, I plugged a lamp into my computer’s battery back-up and placed it on top of my fridge. The compact fluorescent bulb stayed lit for several hours, providing me ample light. I could have watched a small black and white TV too but I didn’t care for the local programming.

My security system had been making squealing and bleeping noises since the early afternoon. I became so annoyed with the din that I put duct tape over the intercom speaker grills to stifle the racket. This was only marginally successful.

The power was still out by the time I went to bed. Having no electricity to run the pump in the well, I boiled some water, that I keep in large plastic bottles for such emergencies, and washed my face in it. I had also collected three large pails of water from the down spouts so that I could flush my toilet.

Though it’s dangerous to do so, I slept that night with ear plugs so I wouldn’t be awaken by the alarm’s intercom. It was still whining faintly when I woke up the next morning.

After boiling more water so I could shave in comfort, I phoned the power company again. The recording said that service in some areas would be restored the next day while other areas would be out indefinitely. I called several local folks in Radway, who were no longer affected by the outage, for permission to temporarily store my perishable food in their fridges. One man loaned me the key to the seniors centre, since its fridge was almost empty, and drove me there with my bag of thawing food.

When I returned home, I was astonished to find that the power had been restored. I walked all the way back to the seniors centre, retrieved my groceries, and returned them to my fridge.

I learned from this blackout that my emergency preparations weren’t as adequate as I supposed. I need some way to keep my food cold during prolonged summer outages and a hand pump connected to my well so I can have potable drinking water.

I realized too late that I should have had my old lap top set up so I could continue editing my <i>How I Was Razed</i> manuscript. My hope is to have this book in print by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, my http://www.bruceatchison.blogspot.com page features my two previous books and a short blurb about my writing.

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Author: bruce Atchison - author

I'm a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of three memoirs and scores of articles. Contact me for details.

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