Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dress Rehearsal for Collapse

Our power went out last night. We had a pretty serious windstorm and a lot of the county went without power. I always treat power outages as dress rehearsals for the proverbial Shit Hitting Fan.

As always we had water, food and flashlights. We heat with wood, so that's never a problem. Our well pump is electric so I always store enough water to cook with and some to flush the toilet.

One of the preparations we're intending to buy in the next year is a hand pump that drops in next to our electrical pump. Ostensibly for emergency use. Not looking like a crazy survivalist is all in the way you frame things to your neighbors.

This is the first outage this winter to last more than a few minutes. In fact, my husband just got off the phone and it appears we'll be out of power for at least the next twenty four hours. As I type this, I am currently taking advantage of the public library which is still firmly in the 21st Century; complete with lights, internet and access to coffee shops.

I must wonder though if, say two years ago, the lights would have been repaired sooner. We were out of electricity for only a day after a similiar 2006 storm. I seem to remember news items last year talking of lay-offs. Maybe there are just not as many electrical repair crews. Perhaps I am in error, or perhaps I'm merely paranoid.

In 2003 after the big blackout, NM governor Bill Richardson said the U.S. was "a superpower with a third-world electricity grid." Seven years on, this is even more true. Worse yet, we don't have the resources to reverse this trend.

Our next round of prep buying will also include a couple deep cycle batteries and some more canning materials. Freezing is an ok option because we have a large chest freezer (they tend to stay frozen through blackouts), but I find that my canned goods are more reliable.

Every power outage is a learning experience. It also seems that we might need to become accustomed to these becoming longer as the power companies struggle to pay the wages and fuel costs for their crews.

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