Everyday Providence blogger, Jennifer, shares her experiences and insight from last week's storm.
Chocolate! After a hot night of hearing every airplane fly over, every emergency vehicle whiz by, and the neighbor’s coveted generator, we were a little crabby. I opened up a Hershey’s bar and gave everyone a piece before we headed out for breakfast from McDonald’s. It helped.
We got word from the power company that our projected recovery time was 2-3 days (upgraded from 4-5), so I started seriously calling around to see if we could find a generator. The refrigerator would already have to be dumped, and we were unsure about the contents of the freezer part, but a full deep freeze keeps food frozen and safe for up to 48 hours. As we approached 36 hours, if we wanted to save that freezer (and we did!), we needed to figure something out fast.
We have a medium sized freezer, maybe 10 cubic feet. It was full of meat mostly. I’m sure we had hundreds of dollars worth of meat in there. So I was weighing my options about the cost of a generator over the cost of the food in it. We rarely lose power for extended amounts of time, so this is not a regular occurrence. Still, having a generator would be a good thing.
We were lucky to have gorgeous weather, envied by most of the country, highs in the 70’s and lows dipping down in the 50’s. We were not at risk for heat stroke. If temperatures had been high, it would have compounded the problem.
I called several places about a generator. If there’s a “first rule” on things like this here it is: the time to buy a generator is before you need it, not in the middle of crisis. Every home improvement and hardware store in a several hour radius was sold out, but was expecting a shipment in. Now, kudos to the businesses who were hauling generators in by the truckloads. I’m sure there were customers ready and willing to buy them up, and these businesses were meeting the needs of their customers and community. But, I really didn’t want to wait in line without it being a sure thing. Beyond that, I really didn’t know exactly what I needed. So, I called a family member five hours away, who had a generator, fuel container, and extension cords at the ready. Yay! They were at the house within the safety window for our freezer and we had our freezer and one refrigerator up and running in no time. We still didn’t have any lights. We still didn’t have air conditioning, television, or internet, but that’s ok. We had our flashlights and lanterns.
The power company reported that our power would be back on by 6:00 am the next morning, within the 48-hour window. It wasn’t. It took them all of the next day, too. 56 hours total, to restore power, so we were thankful that we found a generator in time.
We were lucky, for us this was a simple power outage. We had virtually no compounding problems. Gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores were open. The weather was mild. We didn’t have any fallen trees to clean up. Emergency responders were available. We had cell phones. We had a vehicle and access to drive where we needed to.
In the end, air conditioning was sorely missed, first and foremost. We’re spoiled. We also missed the tv and internet, and certainly the refrigerator. I laughed as I still flipped switches out of habit while going from room to room, but with flashlights and with the long days of summer, lighting wasn’t the biggest concern this time.
The Big Chicago Storm and Power Outage: Day One
Power Outage Day Two and The Great Generator Search
Chicago Storm Lessons Learned and Preparations that Paid
Generators for Backup Power
Food Safety in Power Outages
An Ounce of Prevention