Sandy. Nor’Easter. Bury the lines.

Living in the North East we recently had the luxury of being put through a Hurricane named Sandy. It was not much of a rain hurricane for us in the NE as much as it was the terrible wind  it bore and resulting tree and power damage that resulted. There was flooding but mainly because of the massive storm surge and not in our area only in those near the bay and beach communities. It was bad for us, and worse for them.

We lost power on monday afternoon as the storm started to kick up and then didn’t get it back until mid-day saturday. We left however late thursday I think. The fridge and freezer was starting to thaw faster than we wanted though it did hold on for several days. We ate most of what was going to spoil, ate by candle light, used wood for heat and took minimal showers to stay clean. Going anywhere wasn’t really an option either. We couldn’t even get out of our neighborhood for 2 days due to all the down power-lines and trees which caused the damage.

I personally, along with 5 or 6 other guys in the neighborhood helped clear 3 or 4 such trees, but that was just to get off our street. After that effort with a clear street and moved wires, we were in an oasis. We could cruise our street but that was it, then the gas crisis. We couldn’t really go anywhere if we wanted to, not for another day or so at least and when we did get gas, it was truly only luck and then we left the next day to stay with family until power came back on. Fortunately for us, we didn’t wait long compared to others, who today still don’t have power.

Getting back to work was even harder. Gas was hard to come by, commuting by train wasn’t much of an option even though my wife attempted it with stir craziness starting to seep in and I stayed at home with the kids most of the time because the schools were just at a loss until power had been restored. We lost almost 2 full weeks of work time and the kids lose 4 days of spring break to make up for it.

The wife and me did what we could to do *some* work but it wasn’t much and it was difficult to accomplish anything at best until more power was restored to our places of business as well.

Fragile as a Rope on Fire

Power. Electricity. We so need it. It runs our lives. My wife and I could get along without it but then when it comes to things like getting gas, storing food, communicating, etc, we’re done for. Really really done for. All of us, until we do better at storing it, instead of transmitting it all the time. Electric transmission wires held up by wooden or concrete poles are so fragile. They rely on and provide support for one another. Any one of the poles gets knocked down and the others near it just get stressed and strained until gravity ultimately wins and the lines come down.

Why? Why would we put a critical infrastructure component in a congested area with trees everywhere and don’t cut any trees down close to the power lines possibly more simply, bury these lines. This outage and crisis which ensued will happen again and I for one vote we change the infrastructure in a very meaningful way by getting rid of lines on poles and improve the wires themselves and bury them. There will be little to no maintenance of the lines if done correctly and a broad base all around the US who bury their lines for us to use as an example.

Not only was there lost productivity, there were major medical problems, people lost lives, froze to death, got sick, starved because of the critical component we need to function all the time that no longer could and cause everything else to stop … *snap* … that fast.

It was crazy. We’re safe, and healthy. If I weren’t a Marine and didn’t know how not to give up, we’d have had a much worse time than we did and I feel sorry for those folks out there who aren’t as capable.

To give you a brief idea of what I mean, we had heat by fire, cooked on the fire, searched for firewood which someone also shared with us. I chopped wood with an axe to add to our stash, bought some from another guy, etc. Next was to wash clothes in the bathtub and my modern-day wife never would’ve had that I’m sure but it was what I was prepared to do. If we’d had to, I was thinking of how we could kill some deer that frequent the property for food if need be. Thankfully it didn’t come to that or even really close, but still, I had to be prepared because of the fragile nature of things. It was a crazy time but my instincts and training were in full swing.

It was nuts, and that was only after about 4 days for a guy with 4 kids and a wife. Whew.