Tuesday, December 19, 2006

4 days without power

My Mom called with updates every few hours... "Still no power!" She lives in the Northwest and was affected by the wind storms that blew though there last week.

Her first call came on Wednesday morning to let me know that her power was out, and had been for several hours. She was in her car driving into town (where the power was already back on) so she could use an internet cafe. Mom lives in a fairly rural area, a place where you can still "drive into town." When the power goes out at her house, it GOES OUT. None of these 20 minute city slicker power outages up where she's at, so I figured it would be a while till her electricity was flowing again. I figured 24 hours.

She's pretty well fortified. Always has logs for the fireplace and canned goods in the pantry, plenty of candles and oil lamps. Not for emergencies necessarily, just because. So I wasn't too worried. She could always stay in a hotel for a few days if things got really dicey.

Thursday she called, again from her cell because all her phones are cordless and so not working during the blackout, to let me know that the temperature had dropped dramatically and the power was still out. This is tough news to hear from all the way across the country. She's a tough lady but she's pushin 70 and in order to keep the house heated she's gotta lug wood from outside. Not to mention all her appliances... electric. So she is heating things to eat with sterno cans. I tell her I wish there was something I could do and suggest she go to the movies in town. It would be warm and she could get a real dinner at a restaurant. She said she'd think about it, and assured me she was fine, "Just wanted to keep you posted!"

Friday. She is out with friends at a bar. She calls to say she is watching the news on TV and since that is the business that I am in she wants to know why her power outage has not made the news yet! I've looked at her local paper online and it appears that most of her area is back on... but there are pockets that they are having problems with. She lives in one of those pockets. It's only a few hundred homes that are still dark.

An ice storm hit Atlanta the first year I lived here and the juice was off for just over 3 days. It was so BORING! No net, no TV, no lights... and reading by candlelight SOUNDS romantic, but it's really just a pain in the ass. At least though I could go down the street to a friends or to work where the generator kept the lights and the heat on. My Mom has been up in hicksville for 72 hours now, each day the temperature dropping a little more.

Saturday night. Still no love from the power company and she's starting to sound nervous. She has plenty of wood but her house is not staying warm... she's worried about pipes freezing... and keeps mentioning how cold it is! I'm HELPLESS and worried. I suggest a hotel, but she doesn't want to leave her cat and she's worried about burglars. I ask how she is keeping busy and she assures me that she's been going through her home office in the daytime, cleaning out files and other things she's been meaning to do, but I can tell she's starting to crack a little.

Sunday Morning. I see it's her calling again. "Well, it's FINALLY back on!" she announces before I even say hello. I can tell she is genuinely relieved, and so am I! We talk for a long time about how she is going to celebrate which is of course going to be by turning on every electric appliance in her home!

Does make you think though... what if? 4 days is a long time, but what if I had to go for a week or a month!? It's not likely but it could happen! When the Y2K scare was building in '99 I have to admit that I (secretly, so no one would think I was one of THOSE people) took that opportunity to stock up on some supplies. Bottled water, canned goods, candles, gas, cash... JUST IN CASE! When all the computers in the world did not stop running at midnight, the cash went back in the bank, I started drinking the bottled water and eating the canned goods, the gas went to a buddy's mower, and the candles provided some lovely ambiance for the first few months of 2000. I'm pretty vulnerable now. Hopefully my 4 days aren't coming any time soon.

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