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                           (  (                  /\
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           /\      /\        ______    \    /   /\/\  /\/\
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/      \      /XXXXXXXXXX\                  \
        \    /_I_II  I__I_\__________________\
               I_I|  I__I_____[]_|_[]_____I
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               I II__I  I     XXXXXXX     I
            ~~~~~"   "~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wed, 31 Aug 2011

Hurricane Irene

We've had an interesting few days since hurricane (really tropical storm) Irene hit Connecticut. We lost power Sunday morning, and finally got it back Tuesday. This wasn't really an inconvenience for us, as we had a generator and 20 gallons of fuel. That would last almost two weeks - the trick is to realize that you don't need 24x7 power to be comfortable, assuming you are prepared (more about that below). We ran the generator about six hours a day - two hours each morning. afternoon and night. That was enough in 80-degree weather to keep the fridge and freezer cold enough so there was no food spoilage. While the generator was off, we relied on stored water (both potable and rainwater for flushing toilets), a propane stove, various solar lights, battery-powered flashlights and oil lanterns. Since it was late August in New England, we did not have to worry about heating the house, although we have a wood stove if it had been necessary.

Some of our neighbors were not as prepared, and after just one day without power, one was plugging into our generator with an extension cord, and another was using our freezer and had asked us to charge one of their cell phones. In a moment of candor, one of them admitted to making fun of people rushing to buy water and toilet paper before the storm (we were also poking fun at the last-minute panic shoppers, but only because we had the things they were buying in storage already).

One source of disappointment was Internet access - we have a digital phone line from Cox that uses our house's existing copper phone lines and their cable, not the Internet, so I assumed it would provide dialtone for some time after a power outage. This would, in theory, have allowed me to use the SDF dialup account I keep as a backup. That plan only worked for about eight hours. One neighbor with an AT&T (formerly SNET) POTS line had dialtone for about 12 hours - not much better. Gone are the days when you could count on phone service for days or weeks after a power outage. I think most people just don't expect phones to work under those conditions - either they have cordless phones which are dead without power anyway, or they use cell phones. So companies stopped spending money on backup infrastructure. Of course, cell (data) service is much more expensive than SDF dialup, even if it would last perhaps a few more days. So I'm not sure what to do about that in the future.

We had no major storm damage to speak of, apart from a tree that fell on the kid's playscape. All things considered, it could have been much worse.

posted at: 09:45 | path: / | permalink | hurricane, irene, preparedness, storm