It’s Gravity season. Time for things to fall. Things like leaves and branches. On power lines, naturally. And roads. Oh joy, be still my beating heart! Since Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and Maria, I’d been meaning to dig out the generator for a test run, and do my other fall emergency checks. Thus begins a short story of preparedness and failure.
I came home from work to find my neighbor parked on the side of the street, eying the large cottonwood branch across his driveway. A branch which had brought down the power line across his driveway with it. That meant that the whole street was without juice. Marvelous. But at least he had not been hit by it. Apparently he’s wife had arrived home about five minutes before it had fallen, and he’d arrived about five minutes after. Very lucky. They’d called the power company, and “hot lines down and across a road” tends to get their attention, so trucks were due soon.
I went home, checked on things and dug out the generator. Pulled the cord, and it started up on the second try. Then started to smoke a bit, and sputter, then after about a minute it died slowly away. Bummer. I tried again – fuel line open, no obvious problems. I pulled the cord a few more times. It turned over, but didn’t catch. Another pull and half-way through and it went CLANK! and the cord stopped cold. No more turning over. Huh. Smell of gas. I looked closely and there was a bit of gas and oil dribbling out.
Long story short, it was not going anywhere without an overhaul of some sort. So, now I need to find a generator / small engine repair place that is reasonably reputable / reasonable.
Ah, finally the power line crew shows up…. then they have to wait for a second cherry-picker and a foreman. Great… Finally, about 9:30 we have power back. YAY! The laptops can charge up, the fridge and freezer can stay cold, clocks and alarms can be reset, etc. Normal life resumes.
I do the things that require power, and am about wrapping up things at 11:30 PM when there is a crash and everything goes black…. Again… I check with the wife: she was upstairs at the time and thought it sounded like something inside the house. Huh. I check the garage and other likely places, find nothing, then go outside.
A different cottonwood tree had dropped another large branch across a different power line, this time the one that crosses the street and goes to just my house. My neighbor (whose driveway was blocked by the first branch) had heard the noise and was also out investigating. I asked him if he’d be so kind as to call the power company again, since he had their number handy already, and he obliged. (Thanks!) This branch wasn’t across my driveway, just the road I live on, blocking in all the rest of the houses. Great….
And I still had no generator. The crew finally showed up, and power was restored around 2:30 AM. Then I had to check things, reset clocks and alarms, etc. My eldest gets up at around 5:30 to start getting ready for going to school. The other around 6.
Oh, joy, two hours or so of sleep before I get up and do things before going to work. Then, while walking the dog, I see a heap of stolen mail someone had taken and opened from a nearby cul-de-sac and dumped along the side of the road. The day just keeps getting better – now I get to add “call the sheriff to report it” to my list of things to do; I don’t expect them to bust anyone, but if they are bored, well… it can’t hurt.
Anyway, it’s pleasant weather to have a power outage and find out the emergency preps are in need of a serious tune-up, so it’s not all bad, I guess. Rather find out now than when it’s 33 and raining hard in a windstorm.
So, as the moral of the story – don’t put off your emergency preps: check them regularly, check them now, and get things taken care of BEFORE the shit-oscillator picks up enough RPMs to be a real do-flinger.