I thought I had prepared well last Friday morning – raking the leaves and creating a neat pile of them at the end of my property line. At least if the snow came, the existing leaves would not become mush on my lawn, I thought. I was also delighted that I had acquired a radio with power alternatives consisting of a rechargeable battery, solar panel, and a crank option. I had food in the house.
On Saturday morning I saw that the October snow had begun to fall a half day earlier than expected. Smart me decided to begin to cook two large pots of food just in case power went off and I did not have access to my electronic ignition gas stove and oven. Things were going well, it seemed. Every now and then lights would flicker. I ran to the store for not more than 15 minutes and saw how deceiving things were from my home window. There were downed limbs across stretches of road. The streets seemed as if a giant Slurpee machine dumped gallons of the stuff on them. Traffic light after traffic light were inoperable. I returned home quickly only to find emergency vehicles at a location I had just traveled because of a downed tree limb.
Glad to be home just past mid-day, I decided to update family about how things were. As I typed on the computer I lost power to the house. That was that! So I rounded up candles, the emergency lights, and the radio just in case.
“Just In Case” lasted 3 days! My radio, books, candles, lanterns, and food kept me comfortable as I watched a chunk of my tree fall on the side of my house. There was no heat in addition to no lights. I was smart to take rapidly thawing food to a dear friend’s house after 24 hours. She had her electricity restored. I had saved the charge on my cell phone by having it shut off when not in use. I had a landline telephone in one room that worked independent of the cordless phones in the electrically powered cradles in which they sat.
I was lucky. I had hot water and I had stove top gas. Monday morning was a revelation, however. After listening to the radio of all the school and business closings, and still with no power, I decided to head for warmth at Starbucks where I could sit and use my computer. I also decided to bring my adapters for the radio and lantern so I could charge them in the process. By 11:00 A.M. Starbucks was packed and people were sitting in the frigid cold with laptops plugged in the sockets on the gazebo walls.
I hightailed it to Barnes & Noble and it looked like the day after Christmas there! People were on the floors with computers, people walked around the store with computers in hand, looking for an open socket. Every pillar socket was taken with people charging phones, computers, and emergency gadgets. There were long lines for food and coffee. Suddenly, I realized that a chair was a prized possession. A chair! How simple Life became in a crisis.
A chair was as good as gold. A socket was even more valuable.
With all of our technology, best plans, and forethought, I see that the gizmos and gadgets are only as good as a charge. In a serious crisis our cities are not equipped to handle the volume of need – this we see played out over and over. I think I will really give serious thought and action to contingency plans given the numerous climatic events around the globe and earth rumblings. After all, with all of this, winter did not even get here yet!
I am grateful for caring friends and neighbors because that is what makes a difference for all of us in times of need and crisis.
© Dr. Drayton-Craig, 2011