Blog Master G

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Powerless for 3 Days & Counting

Sunday, February 19th, 2006 · 2 Comments

Little did I know the irony that my blog entry from Friday morning would bring (The Winter That Wasn’t), for later on that day a near-hurricane storm (more typical in this area in the summer than in the winter) ripped across northern New York state, with winds recorded as high as 67 miles per hour (a hurricane wind is 73 MPH). Branches fell, trees were knocked down, and a DOT worker was killed in Spa State Park when a tree fell on his truck.

Fortunately for us, our house did not suffer any damage in the high winds on Friday, and the spruce trees in our yard proved their strength, barely rocking in the powerful winds. My backyard ended up as a repository for a neighbor’s wreath and grill cover, along with random debris and stray newspapers.

I began to get calls around noon on Friday from friends who had lost their power. I thought I had lucked out, but then around 2 or 2:30pm Friday my luck ran out. Out went the electricity and with it, the furnace.

Then it got cold. Really cold.

At the peak of the blackout, about 225,000 National Grid customers across the state — including all Saratoga County residents — were without power, and about 65,000 of us, including a good portion of Saratoga Springs, are still without power — three days later. When I called the power company this morning, they told me that it could be 8am Monday morning or later until our power is restored.

We had to leave town Friday night to find a place to eat, so Justin joined us for drinks and dinner at Red Robin in Clifton Park, where we enjoyed the onion ring tower, among other greasy delights.

Friday night we had no heat — just lots of blankets. And Mother Nature pulled a cruel trick on us, deciding to give us single-digit temperatures this weekend when we’re without heat. When we woke up Saturday morning, the thermostat downstairs read 37 degrees at 9:12am (don’t let that 61 on the right in the photo fool you; that’s the target temperature). It was probably much colder than that in the middle of the night.

Luckily, Jen’s from a pretty rural area that loses power a lot, so her family is more prepared for things like this than we were. My father-in-law saved the day yesterday when he arrived with Jen’s uncle’s generator, a 55,000 BTU NASA-esque space heater, and a kerosene space heater. We hooked it all up and watched as the temperature slowly rose from about 41 degrees on Saturday afternoon up to the mid-50s (where we usually keep our thermostat anyway). The concern was that the water in our radiator pipes could freeze and burst, making a tremendous mess.

After we got the heat raised, Jen’s dad pulled the ultimate MacGyver and rewired the electrical outlet on our furnace so that we could plug it in to the generator. And voila! There was heat. We turned off the generator before going to sleep last night, so it was about 40 degrees inside when we woke up this morning before firing up the generator.

It’s been an intense, insightful, and challenging experience so far, and really makes me appreciate our modern conveniences that much more. At night, the stars shine more brightly than ever and it’s really, really quiet. This morning as walked the dogs around our neighborhood, the only sounds were the low rumbles of generators parked outside the cellars of a few fellow holders-on who haven’t left town for warmer ground. We really do take electricity for granted in this country. Our lives and our livelihoods depend on it (can we say solar and wind power?).

Today we’re at a coffee shop in town with power and wifi. Hallelujah! My Internet craving has been sated.

Tomorrow: Day 4 without power.

(More pictures of our MacGyvered setup forthcoming when power is restored. Here they are.)

Tags: saratoga springs

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 M // Feb 19, 2006 at 9:50 pm

    I totally don’t get what’s up with Saratoga’s power. I went into the city today, and the West Side looked fine, traffic lights and everything, but Broadway and east was black. The power’s been on here since midafternoon yesterday, though, and we’re usually the last ones back up in an outage.

    Are people really fleeing town like you say? I figured most people would just be hunkered down with extra blankets — that’s what I did that first night without power. People could also just go to the shelter at Maple Avenue Middle School.

  • 2 Gabe A_nderson // Feb 22, 2006 at 11:25 am

    Yes, I’ve talked to at least a half-dozen people who left town during the outage. I also read in the Saratogian that by 5pm Friday, area hotels with power were all booked up.