Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Irene: The Aftermath

Hurricane Irene Reaches New York CityImage by NASA Goddard Photo and Video via FlickrHurricane Irene has come and gone.  I am happy to say that we fared pretty well, all things considered.  While there are many saying that the DC area was not hit as badly as they had feared that it would, that is little consolation for those who are still without power.  For example, my sister and her family are still without power.

My power company, Baltimore Gas & Electric, posted an update on Facebook today stating that they had restored power to more than half of the people who were without power.  However, they also posted that there are still 5000 downed power lines and around 400 poles that need to be repaired or replaced. Some people may not have power again until Friday.

Back in 2003, when Hurricane Isabel came through we lost our power for three days.  It was a pretty brutal experience.  My son was only 9 years old at the time. He could not understand why he could not use all his electronic devices.  Even worse, we were not in the least bit prepared.  We had no batteries, no ice, nothing.

This year, I prepared for the worst.  I bought dry ice, bottled water, and a bunch of non-perishable foods.  Should the power go out, the dry ice would go into the freezer and refrigerator to keep the foods cold.  Some would go into a regular cooler to be covered by regular ice to keep cold drinks.  I had enough dry ice to keep things cold for three days.

It started raining here around 10:00 Saturday morning, and was steady throughout the day.  As the rain was really starting to get consistently heavy and the winds picking up, I was heading out to deliver pizza.  On my first delivery, the road I had to travel on already had two trees down.  Things gradually deteriorated as the night went on.

Fortunately, we were not very busy.  I think most people probably thought we would be closed.  There were a few people who were extra generous with their tips given the weather conditions.  My last delivery was a little more than $25.  The customer handed me $40 and as I was getting change out of my pocket he told me that given the weather to keep it.  Still others, tipped as if it were just a normal night.

Around 9:30, the rain was coming down much harder and so was the wind.  I was ready to call it a night, but they wouldn't let us go.  We were just starting to cleaning up when two more orders came in just before 10pm.  Just as the pizzas were going into the oven, the power came out and did not come back on.  I was able to head home around 10:30.

When I got home, we still had power at the house.  I puttered around on the computer for about an hour or so and headed up to bed about midnight.  The lights went off briefly for about a minute and came back on.  Finally, at about 12:30 they went out and did not come back on.  I called the outage into the power company and went to sleep.

I awoke at 6am, and the power was still out.  I went downstairs to take care of the dry ice.  One block went into the fridge, and another in the freezer.  Two more blocks went into my large freezer in the basement.  I then fired up my Samsung Galaxy tablet to check things out on Twitter and see what news I could find.

My son came down the stairs a short time later.  His first step was to try to turn the lights on in living  room.  I told him we had no power and his reply was "that's a whammy."  Then he tried to turn on our desktop computer.  His reply was "that's a double whammy."  He sat with me on the couch and started watching some DVDs on his portable DVD player that was fully charged.  He eventually went back to sleep for a couple hours.

I ventured out around 10am to see if the Wawa up the street was open as I had a coupon for a free coffee.  I also wanted to drive up to the substation a couple blocks away to see if there were any BGE trucks working on fixing the power.  There was.  Somebody from that part of the neighborhood was talking with them.  He told me that they thought the power would be back by the end of the day or within a few hours.

I picked up a coffee for me and a hot dog for my wife at a 7-11 I found that was open.  When I got home, my son was still sleeping on the couch.  After about an hour or so, we decided to wake him to see if he wanted to go to Dave & Buster's to play some skee ball.  Just as we were heading out the door, the lights came on.  All told we were without power for about 12 hours.

As we left the house, we saw a stream of water flowing in the parking lot from all of the sump pumps suddenly starting up and pumping out water.  It made me believe that a lot of the houses had wet basements.  Our's was bone dry thanks to having our basement waterproofed after Hurricane Floyd in 1999.  As part of that we had a sump pump with a battery backup.

Nevertheless, we were extremely grateful that we only lost power for 12 hours, and most of that was while we were sleeping.  I figure that if I had not gone through the effort and expense of preparing ourselves for the storm then we would likely have gone considerably longer without power.  That is usually how things work out for me.
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  1. Glad to hear that all is well with you and yours. Your son's comments are funny!

  2. he picked up "that's a whammy" from watching Whammy the all new press your luck on the game show network. Anytime something goes wrong he says it

  3. I'm really glad to hear that you-all didn't get it bad. CNN has been reporting that some homes in New Jersey won't get their power back on until well into the weekend at best, and some businesses may be out for a month. The shots of those old covered-bridges in Vermont washing away have made me and my wife sick.

  4. thanks, Fish. My sister and her family were told their power, about a 30 minute drive from my house, will not be back until sometime Thursday night



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