by Charlene Burgi
High winds tore at the vegetation in Lassen and Modoc counties this past Tuesday. Clouds of dirt and dust were so thick you couldn’t see beyond them. Trees swayed over and were pushed to their limits. Then it happened. Somewhere along the miles of power lines coming through town and countryside, a tree gave way to the gusting winds and we lost our electricity. But I soon discovered it was more of a loss than that.
I was on the computer when the power went down. Our phones went dead as our phone system requires electricity. My cell phone was also dead from lack of use. My car was securely parked in the garage where the walls are filled with 12 inches of concrete to protect us from winter cold. No cell service could penetrate within even if I plugged the phone into the car jack; however, charging the cell phone in the car was an option.
While the phone charged, the thought of losing all means of communication didn’t concern me. I moved on to pending projects not requiring electricity or communication. While working, I made mental notes of other options for freeing myself of electrical dependency in an emergency. One was to get the generator moved back into the garage and review the process of how it works. Jack was out of town, and I knew I couldn’t manage carting the generator from his shop to the house by myself, so that would have to wait.
Several hours later, and a few projects completed, our power was restored. However, I failed to check the access to the internet until the following night. No connection. With it being late, morning sounded like a better time for problem-solving. Equipped with positive thoughts and little knowledge, I tackled the job by disconnecting and reconnecting various cords but to no avail. The computer wouldn’t connect to the internet. Our internet representative made attempts over the phone to walk me through various exercises but with the same outcome I experienced. We came to the conclusion that my modem died in the storm. It would be late the next day before they could send someone out.
My mind reeled as I considered the options I had for getting the blog to you this week. Our closest neighbor doesn’t own a computer. However our new neighbors, living several miles away, are off grid and totally dependent on solar power, and they have internet service. Thanks to them, the blog would go through!
Dependency. This power outage made me realize how dependent we are on electricity. Jack and I are dependent on electricity to move water from the well to the house and horse troughs. We need electricity to water our garden, wash dishes and clothes, draw water for bathing, brush our teeth, and the list goes on.
Losing electricity made me think of the power Marin Municipal Water District uses to move water to your homes also. Most people don’t realize that MMWD is one of Marin’s largest power consumers! I recalled the time many years ago that MMWD lost power and we used generators to keep emergency lighting on in our building. The district had a plan in place to continue providing reliable service to customers, so your water was never interrupted.
This week’s event gave me pause for thought and prompted me to come up with some questions for you:
- Do you have an emergency preparedness plan? (If not, readymarin.org is a great resource.)
- If you lost power, what would you sacrifice? What domino effect would it have on your life?
- How dependent are you on your utilities? Could you live comfortably until all was restored?
- Have you stored an emergency supply of water?
- Can you use a barbecue to cook?
- Are back-up batteries charged or candles at the ready?
- Do you have a generator? And if so, do you have it filled with fuel and know how to use it?
- Or, like our friends, would you be unaffected by the loss of power thanks to progressive thinking in using solar energy and storing water in a tank for such emergencies?
I hope I have convinced you to take a moment now, before an emergency arises, to ask yourself what are you dependent on and what is your “plan B” if that option fails. With this in mind, what will you do differently? Please let us know what plans you have in place to assist with overcoming these dependencies! I, for one, may consider courier pigeons for communication!