Elimloth (elimloth) wrote,

40 hours - no power

Good heavens, it is over; life without power in an all electric house is not comfortable when the outside temps are below 40F. I may have to get supplementary power unit for this place.

Thursday -
The wind storm hit us hard that evening to the point where the sliding glass doors were visibly bowing inward. Selene was finishing up her baking when the lights flickered a few times. At that point I was worried about all the electronics but everything seemed OK. We knew a power failure was possible so we prepared the candles, flashlights, butane lighters, etc. And then the power failed at 10PM, darkness, eerie silence save for the howling gusts outside. The cats freaked and bolted downstairs to hide. We lit the candles, and cleaned up the place. Off to the east, across Lake Washington, we saw a myriad of lights. Though the city was hit, their municipal power company had matters well in hand. Many sections of the city were unaffected and the dark areas quickly lit up again. In the dark it felt as if we were in our dark and cold hovels looking across not a lake, but perhaps, the Rio Grande, looking towards El Norte.

Friday -
Morning. We woke up to utter silence. The wind storm subsided earlier and we were greeted to high clouds enveloping the entire sky. The Olympics glistened in the morning sunlight, though we could not see the sun yet the snowy peaks were bathed in light. The temperature in the house dropped to 60F but we were comfortable, and, the water heater retained plenty of hot water to let us take showers albeit brief ones. Two very large trees had fallen across our driveway, and they were not cleared until late morning by the road crews. Nothing worked, including the phone lines. Our cell phones worked but the signal strength was low. I later found out the cell towers in the east side were down (unbelievable that the cell companies did not have them set up with backup generators). Since our place is up high, we were able to pick up the Seattle cell towers. All this looking bad, we decided to bolster our existing supplies of emergency goods. The trip to the stores wasn't too bad; all the traffic lights were out but most people were stopping at them and rotating through the intersections. A few notable nuts blasted through as if they owned the universe. Fortunately, I noticed some of them were being given tickets to correct them of their incorrect assumptions. All the wood supplies were bought up hours earlier. People were taking anything that could generate heat or light. We ended up buying extra cat litter at Fred Meyers and then we swung over to the PCC in Kirkland. They were technically closed but they were taking orders and picking up supplies from within. We bought three small bundles of seasoned fireplace wood. By evening, it was getting colder, and I stoked up the fireplace. It was clear the thing was more ornamental but it did cast heat for about six feet. We hung out right by it, keeping us warm but it did not have sufficient energy to heat the living room let alone the house. To do that I'd need to add much more wood that what I had in store. So, we kept the fire limited, had a nice quiet evening punctuated with having to clean up the dripping refrigerator. Our friends, Peter and Lee dropped by later that evening, and we sipped a little wine ate some bread and cookies. We decided to get warm, so we headed to Seattle to watch _Eragon_. Afterward, we departed; eventually Selene and I went to bed.

Saturday -
Much colder, 54F. I awoke trapped by my two cats clinging onto each side of my body. They were really unhappy with this situation and they demanded something be done immediately. Having extricated myself from them, I rummaged around and found my portable battery operated TV (with batteries inside and with insulating spacers to keep them from discharging). The news was bad - the entire Eastside from Woodinville to the north all the way past Kent to south had no power. Tacoma and parts of Olympia were also out. Puget Sound Energy had no firm estimates, only a vague 'several days'. Meanwhile the refrigerator had warmed up to 54F and we had to clean up the dripping mess. Fortunately, the freezer half was doing OK. The ice bottles had kept things very cold; only partial defrosting occurred and that we could cook on our neighbor's gas stove. The not-frozen yogurt containers, however, were tossed. But first we needed to get supplies. We headed toward Seattle looking for cook stoves (something we have down in Santa Cruz). No go at REI. Their supply of camp stoves was exhausted and though they had demonstrator models available there was no propane anywhere in the greater Seattle area. Next on our list was more wood. We found a place in Edmonds that was selling seasoned maple and alder in fractional cords- $70 for 1/5th of a cord, but at least it was real firewood. We also filled up our car at the gas station up there. As we approached it, we saw the owner changing the prices; regular was $2.69 and was upping it to $2.89. Fortunately, I ran my card through the reader and started pumping before he got back to the office to change the pump prices. This price gouging did not sit well with people and we were, fortunately, out of there before things got too tense.

I think buying the wood must have been the lucky charm because power finally returned at 1PM, just as we arrived home from our gather. We were lucky, as the temps that night plummeted to 30F and the power held to let the heat pumps (and auxiliary resistance heating elements) raise the house temps to someplace comfortable. I started a very large fire in the fireplace to assist the heating process. My friends Peter, Lee, and David, who were still without power arrived again in the evening, so we fed them hot soup, then we went to Seattle to see _Deja Vu_ in the nice warm theatre.

Sunday -
There are still many areas without power. It is very spotty, probably the main feeder lines have been addressed and now crews have to handle the local downed lines. This time we joined friends to see _The Fountain_ in Bellevue. It looks like Lee and David now have power. Peter's house is still in the dark so he's staying with Lee.


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