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Another Storm, Another Long Power Outage

November 12, 2011

It’s been a while since I posted on my blog.  Needless to say, I have been busy, but one thing that really put a damper on blog posts was the storm that started on Saturday, 10/29.  The snow started falling sometime around noon or so that day and carried on into the night.  It was very wet and heavy snow and easily clung to the tree branches and bushes.  Unfortunately, not all the leaves had fallen from the trees yet so there was even more surface area for the snow to stick to.  By about 4pm, the power had gone out.  I had a feeling we were in for a long haul with the outage since this was no ordinary winter storm.  In fact, it’s not even winter yet, technically speaking.  During the late night and early morning, we had trouble sleeping, because we kept hearing cracking and popping outside as numerous branches broke and fell on the the ground and power lines.  We were really worried about large branches or, even worse, a whole tree falling onto the house or deck.  We even saw what appeared to be lightning during the night, although it was sort of multi-colored due to the snow filled sky.  That was pretty freaky.  Fortunately for us, we only lost a few decent size branches and nothing actually hit the house.

Our crabapple tree laden with heavy snow.

By morning, we took a look outside and could see our power and at&t lines sagging precariously low to the ground because of the weight of snow on the branches of the tree that the wires ran through.  The sun was out and already starting to melt some of the snow, thankfully, and it wasn’t long before some of the trees and bushes were not as weighed down and began to spring back up to normal.  Unfortunately, this caused our at&t line to finally snap off from the house.

Our neighbors' tree hanging on our power line.

Snapped off at&t wire on right. Power lines still attached.

I could tell the power outage was extensive because even my iPhone had no signal.  Clearly the nearby towers didn’t have power either.  I decided to take a drive out and get some gas in the car, charge up my phone and find a signal somewhere to check messages and let my parents know we were okay.  The main road in Vernon had no power either which was bad.  During Hurricane Irene, the power had not gone out in the center of town.  I managed to find a BP station in Manchester that had just opened and filled up with gas.  I got fairly lucky with that because there were very few gas stations open and the Shell across the street already had a huge line that had formed.

After Irene, we had planned to get a generator, but we hadn’t gotten around to it yet.  I don’t think anyone expected another storm so soon that would cripple the power grid again.  I believe there were something like 875,000 Connecticut Light & Power customers without power after the storm.  That’s just crazy.  Fortunately, it wasn’t too cold outside at this point in the year, although it wasn’t exactly warm.  Our house got down to about 50 degrees after the first couple of days.  We didn’t have things too bad though because we have city water, a gas water heater and a large room on the back of the house that has a gas heater built onto the wall. So, while the power was off, we camped out in the back room to stay warm and we were able to take hot showers and even use the gas stove in the kitchen to cook.

This tree pretty much split in half and was laying in the road.

Other folks weren’t so lucky.  Quite a few people have well water that requires an electric pump and oil fired furnaces with integrated hot water heaters.  Those people couldn’t even flush their toilets after the first flush and had no way to take showers.  Temporary shelters opened up to allow people to stay somewhere warm and take showers.  At the office in Hartford, we never lost power, so people were bringing their kids with them to work as many of the schools were closed as well.

Our power finally came back on Friday evening (11/4) and we were practically jumping for joy when it did.  We had actually gone out to eat after being tired of trying to cook simple meals in the dark.  When we came home it was on.  It definitely sucks not having power.  I already have a call into an electrician about getting a transfer switch installed on the house for a generator hookup.  Of course, he’s swamped for the near future, but I’m hoping to get him over here in a few weeks to get it done.  I’m actually considering getting an automatic standby generator.  They are more expensive, but they run with natural gas and come on automatically when they detect that the grid power has gone off.  It would be great even if the power goes off for only a few hours.  The problem with power outages is that you never know how long they will last.  Could be 10 minutes or 10 days.

For the week that the power was off, it’s almost like our lives were on pause.  We didn’t really get anything accomplished because we were just focused on doing what we could to eat and keep warm and still make it to work each day.  As much heat as CL&P has taken as a result of their repair efforts, I do have to give credit to all the men and women that sacrificed their time and came to Connecticut to help restore our power.  The guys that restored power to our neighborhood were from Maine and I saw repair crews from many other states as well.  These people worked day and night to get things back to normal as soon as possible.  Thank you to all who helped!

We had to drive under this tree for about a week until the power company finally removed it.

Lots of cable and telephone wires were broken.

Kyra looking very excited about the prospect of no power for days.

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