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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stormaggedon: Day 3

Tuesday 1AM:  I wake to the sounds of popping and gurgling outside my window.  What the heck is that?  THE GENERATOR!!  Oh, no. Please don't tell me it's dying.  Please!!

I get up out of bed and head to the back door to get my shoes.  I'm half undressed because I'm still partially sleeping.  Once I realize this, I go back in and throw on a sweatshirt.  I head outside.  It's dark.  Very dark.  I forgot my flashlight.  I head back in, grab the industrial Mag lite off the counter and return to a "choked" up generator.  There is white smoke coming out of the engine.  What could be wrong?  Gas?  Oil?  I check all the gauges.  Everything indicates it is ok but the noises, the sputtering, the smoke, what's causing this?  I examine all the knobs and switches.  And then I see it.  Somehow, the choke got switched to the closed position.  I flip it back and the unit fires back up to a dull purr.  Whewww!  That was close.  I return inside, everyone still asleep, crawl back in bed and sigh deeply into my pillow.

Tuesday 6AM:  "I'm leaving for work.  The generator is almost out of gas," she says.  What!  How can that be?  Sunday we ran it all night and there was still over a 1/4 tank left when I woke up.  The space heater!! (in my best Jerry hating Newman voice)  That think sucked over half the power itself and drained the gas quicker.  That's not cool.  Not cool at all.  Especially considering that gas prices shot back up about $.20/gallon right before the storms.  I already filled three of our gas tanks and it cost over $50.  How much more am I going to have to spend?  Are we still going to lose all the groceries in the fridge?  How much longer is this outage going to last?  I check my phone.  Estimated time for restoration of power...THURSDAY!!!  It's getting worse!!

Tuesday 7:30AM:  I decide to go to work early.  My idea is that as long as we don't open the fridge and it doesn't rain, everything will be good.  I'm shutting the generator off and plugging back in the stuff in case by some miracle the power comes back on.  I text her and let her know the plan.  We can turn it back on when she gets home.  Oh, look.  A text from my dad.  "You guys should come stay here tonight.  It's going to be cold."  How much colder can it get?  I look at my phone.  Tonight's low, 28 with windchill feeling like 22.  Ugh.  I text her to get her vibe on the idea.  We agree that unless the power comes back on, that is probably our best bet, preventing us from burning through another tank of gas and freezing to death to boot.  I go back in the house and pack a bag.

Tuesday Noonish:  I check the Estimated times again...still Thursday.  We are listing in one of four areas that took the most damage to equipment.  The estimated times are "worst case scenario" times if they run into problems repairing the broken lines.  But up until I left for work this morning, I hadn't seen one single utility truck on our street except the tree cutter guys clearing the line paths along the road.  The broken poles are still broken, the downed lines are still down.  The overall power outage map has shrunk considerably.  Of the 75,000 people without power, 98% of them have been restored.  Over 50% of those left are in my town and the neighboring town to the north.

Tuesday 3:30PM:  I text her to see when she is leaving work.  They have another case to deal with and it has to be finished before she leaves.  After that, she will head home, turn the generator back on for awhile to cool the fridge back down, empty the sump, and charge the phone.  She has to pack a couple bags of clothes for our overnight sleepover.

Tuesday 4:30ishPM:  I text my ex to see if she is bringing my boys to my office or if I am picking them up.  They are on their way.  The power still isn't on at home so I am just going to bring them to my dad's for awhile too.  But what about food?  I'm not going to assume we are being fed too.  I text to see what the plans plans.  I ask if she wants to meet for food or if we are all fending for ourselves.  She says we can meet.  How about pizza?  Fantastic.  Let's do it.

Tuesday 5:45PM:  I get a table for five at the local pizza place.  They will meet us in a few.  In the meantime, the boys and I settle in for a nice dinner.  They have coloring pages for them to do and after ordering, they go to work on some fall themed pictures.  After about 15 minutes, the others arrive and we make small talk before our food arrives.  This was the first time we have sat down to eat a meal together since Sunday morning.  We discuss the events of the last couple days and voice our concerns going forward if nothing gets fixed.  She mentions that there are 6 utility trucks on our street as we are sitting there, working on the light poles.  They must have heard me.  Maybe we will have power before dinner is done.  Maybe we can cancel the sleepover.

Tuesday 7:30PM:  As we head to my parents house, I decide to detour down our street to assess the situation.  There are the trucks.  There are the workers.  There are the new light poles.  There are all the dark windows of the houses too.  Still no power.  Oh well.  One last check of their website.  Estimated time to restoration of power, Wednesday by day's end.  Wednesday now, huh?  So we moved up?  That's good.  It's still another day to wait but at least it's progress.  Who knows?  Maybe they will get it on sometime tonight.

We finally arrive at my parents.  We are welcomed inside to a warm and invited home.  It's nice to have a place to go and sleep in a warm bed.  Here's hoping tonight is the only night we need to do this.

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