Tag Archives: electricity

and lo, the sound of chainsaws was heard in the land…

There are power trucks parked on our street. Guys with chainsaws in our woods. A sense of hope in the house.

We are far from alone. As of this morning, 20,000+ Indiana residents and 100,000+ Kentucky residents in the Louisville area remain without electricity. (In addition, more than 100,000 remain without power near Cincinnati along with 200,000+ around Columbus, OH.) Some of these people may be waiting as long as another week for power; the utility companies continue to find new nests of downed lines and broken poles, all of which add to the time required for repairs.

Hundreds of people lined up for food assistance in Louisville yesterday.

Hundreds of people lined up for food assistance in Louisville yesterday.

The city governments have set up shelters; the Red Cross and other charities are providing meals. But this ordeal is proving intensely difficult for those who live on limited incomes and have had to throw away all their food, and those with medical conditions that require oxygen or other electric-powered equipment. As it happens, Louisville is hosting the Ryder Cup (a golf tournament that is important enough to merit its own entire section in the newspaper each day), and many people — including me — resent the attention and money being poured into a sporting event while tens of thousands of citizens are suffering.

And somehow, despite the fact that this is the most widespread damage any of the local utilities have dealt with in their history; despite all the people without electricity and, in many cases, water and/or phone; despite the depth of the ordeal that has hit our citizens and businesses; we’ve remained largely absent from the national news. A friend who lives on the west coast had no idea any of this had happened. Everyone knows that Hurricane Ike hit Texas, but no one outside the Midwest seems to know that the hurricane also hit Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, and Ohio.

It has been and continues to be a monumentally strange ride.

I love Home Depot

Our generator is almost but not quite exactly like this one.

Our generator is almost but not quite exactly like this one.

So I was driving home this afternoon and spotted a big hand-painted sign by the road outside our local Home Depot: “Do you want a generator? Come inside!”

Nah, I thought, too good to be true. But when I called, they said yes, they had lots of generators for sale right at the front of the store. A little while later I headed down to check them out. They had received a shipment of about 200 this morning, and thanks to the sign and radio announcements, they had about 30 left by 3:00 p.m. As I stood talking to the clerk, people bought another 5.

Doug made a couple of phone calls and learned that they hadn’t jacked up the price. A little while later, after some discussion, we became the proud owners of a 5,000-watt generator.

It’s running now, safely tucked away behind the house, well out of range of windows and doors. We have hot water. A cold refrigerator. A working computer (and working internet — I’m still not sure how the cable is functioning, but who am I to argue?). A working lamp. We’ve been made incredibly happy by these comparatively small things.

Even if we only use it for one day, it’s worth it, because of the peace of mind we’ll have during future power outages. (And living in a wooded area like we do, there will be future power outages.)

Thanks, Home Depot, for making my week.

midwest hurricane

I’m writing this in the upstairs home office of extremely generous friends who live about 30 minutes from us on the other side of Louisville (thanks, Rick and Holly!). I’ve set up my PC on a card table and am hooked into their cable; my kids are playing their Wii and using a laptop. I’m getting ready to check my email and do some work.

Why are we here? Because on Sunday, the 80 mph remains of Hurricane Ike came to the midwest and knocked the hell out of southern Indiana¬† and the Louisville area. Our power went out Sunday morning as trees began to fall. My mom has a tree through her roof. If we’d been home when the worst winds hit, both of our cars would have been totalled by the immense tree limbs that landed in our driveway. As of this morning, power is still out for nearly 50,000 people in our area of Indiana and more than 200,000 in Louisville. All the schools are closed and may be closed the rest of the week. Every neighborhood is full of downed trees and littered with leaves and branches; power lines dangle from snapped poles.

Yesterday my husband and I went for a walk and saw an enormous tree lying across a road less than a mile from our house; it took down about 200 feet of lines. In a nearby neighborhood another huge tree was snapped and leaning on its neighbor; more power lines were coiled on the grass. This is the reality all around us.

Before we came to visit our friends in their electrified sanctuary, we cleaned out our refrigerator and freezers. Conservatively, $500 or so of food hit the trash: the most depressing part of this yet from my standpoint. We’re now eating out for every meal. Assuming it’s another couple of days before the power comes back, this little adventure is going to get very expensive. Not to mention that I’ll need to find places with plugs and wifi where I can try to get some work done.

For some reason the national news is ignoring our part of the world in their reports on Ike and its aftermath. But friends who’ve talked to folks in Texas and other areas report that we were hit harder than areas more directly in the original hurricane’s path. It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen or dreamed could happen. It’s a crazy nightmare situation. I’m trying to be relieved that we didn’t lose our phone or water, and that our house wasn’t damaged; but optimism is tough right now.