A tale of survival – how we made it through 12 hours without electricity

By | November 1, 2017

While we slept on Sunday night, Maine received a storm of biblical proportions. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating. But it was bad. Winds over 50 mph, lots and lots of rain. I didn’t sleep much because of all the noise outside. I never sleep well during storms.

We woke up with no electricity. Turns out more people lost power from this storm than from the ice storm of 1998.  Trees were down everywhere, including the back of my neighborhood.

There was also no school. It’s very rare in Maine that school is cancelled due to a storm that doesn’t include snow or ice, but you can’t have school without power. And the wind was blowing so hard on Monday morning, some of the walkers might have been blown away.

I figured, no problem. We lose power once in a while and it’s usually back in an hour or two. By 10 o’clock it wasn’t back, so I brought my laptop the the library to go on Central Maine Power’s website. What I saw was not good. Over half their area had no power and they didn’t plan to do any repairs that day. Instead, they were going to shut down dangerous wires and assess what to do. It would likely be several days before we got electricity.

No problem. I have a generator. I hadn’t started it in about 5 years, but it started on the second pull. Hooray! But then the pull cord somehow fell apart – it just snapped in two. The handle and about a foot of cord fell on the ground, and the rest disappeared into the generator while it was running. Sounds impossible, but my life seems to be full of incidents like this.

I tried replacing the cord but it didn’t work. I believe there’s a problem with the entire pull cord recoil mechanism. There are cracked and broken pieces inside which I’m quite sure shouldn’t be that way. Considering I’ve never used the generator, I’m not real happy about it. I’m going to try purchasing a new part. That didn’t help me on Monday, though.

Now I was feeling pretty stressed out. Faced with no power for what could be days, we moved all of the food from the refrigerator into the freezer. In our garage we have a stand-up freezer with several gallons and half gallons of ice inside. My wife says they help keep things cold and therefore reduce the cost of running the freezer. Makes sense to me.

We took a few of the half gallons and put them in the small freezer with the food to keep it cold. Then we gathered all of out flashlights and candles and prepared for an evening of reading by candlelight. By this point, I was kind of looking forward to it.

Around 6:30, as we were eating grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches by candlelight, the power unexpectedly came back on. Exciting, yes, although I really was enjoying reading in the candlelight with my book light(I’m 49 years old – book lights and reading glasses are essential). I wish we’d counted how many light switches we habitually flipped while the power was out.

We somehow survived our 12 hours without power. It was a struggle, but we persevered. Seriously, it’s amazing how much we rely on electricity. We are very grateful to have it back on and hope everyone else gets theirs back soon. In some ways it was very peaceful. But it was also stressful to contemplate 4 or 5 days without power, and I’m definitely hoping to get my generator repaired before the real cold weather hits.


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