Thursday, September 1, 2011

It's great to see the light

It is wonderful to have power again. Not political. Electrical.

After Irene blew through, we felt, and were, powerless. In every way.

No matter what title you give it, hurricane, tropical storm or extra-tropical storm, it did a lot of damage. We were not prepared. We were told to get a battery radio. Check. Flashlights. Check. Ice. Right. Get out the old direct-wire telephone, the one that attaches directly to the plug and does not require electricity to work. No caller ID, but so what. Hot water. Took care of that 20 years ago with a gas heater. City water, so no need to fill the bathtub. Grille in the back so food can be cooked before it spoils.

It would have been better if I had had better timing about having foot surgery so I could walk the neighborhood and commiserate with the neighbors, and that makes the feeling of isolation worst. But after the third day, there was work to be done and Starbucks in Orange had electricity and wifi. It became office central and they sold a lot of coffee and other stuff.

We really did not suffer because the house was dark. We had little damage outside and quite a bit of food had to be tossed, but we were lucky.

That does not mean that we should have been treated like serfs by the utility companies.

The worst part of the experience was the lack of information. The idiots on television had told us to tune in for updates. How do you do that without power? Yes, my trusty laptop had three hours or so of power, but that did no good if you could not get onto the Internet. Sure, we could have set up a 3G hot spot, for only for a few minutes until the smart phone ran dry of juice.

On the day of the storm, the disc jockeys at WELI tried to relay information until 1 p.m., then back to the syndicated (and cheap) right-wing yakkers. WELI, news radio, is a cruel joke. I wish the FCC had some teeth so we could get their license pulled. Licensed as caretakers of the public good my left cheek.

Calls to United Illuminating (another cruel joke) were answered with, in other words, "none of your business." The city's emergency information center staff members tried hard, but they had no information to relay. The electric or the nonelectric company had told the city one or two days more, then stopped telling them anything at all.

Finally they got the bright idea of looking for fixes that could put many people on at once. My whole neighborhood lit up the same moment I did. After four days.

Our junior senator, Dick Blumenthal, said he would conduct an investigation.

I wonder why the electric company doesn't have sensors installed one the poles or connections to identify ones that are out. Why not get a satellite photo of the area. They are expensive but also sharp. Do something.

These companies should be punished for not preparing for the storms that always come. Laying off a large percentage of its work force is not a way to prepare for anything except to rake in large amounts of money. Don't blame the stockholders. Blame the officers who pay themselves huge bonuses for keeping us in the dark. And powerless.

Until next time...

No comments: