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Old 09-01-2011, 12:30 PM
Location: Backwoods of Maine
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Hello all -- just an update. Irene hit us here in RI in the early morning hours on Sunday, the 28th. A good deal of rain, some really gusty winds. We lucked out, had no damage to the house or garage, but lost a few trees out back, and had a monster of a tree branch at the entrance to the driveway. Leaves and small branches everywhere. Landline phone line came down.

Power off, OF COURSE. We got power back at 5:15 pm Wednesday night. We still have no phone. Our generator ran probably 4 hours a day. Some of the neighbors without one, we invited over for hot showers. Neighbors got together to make stews and casseroles with whatever was left in the fridge that they didn't want to waste. Good stuff!

Most people have been getting weary of this "no-power" stuff. Pay attention here...this may be on a test someday! The kids have been given an extended vacation from starting school; they are driving everybody crazy without their X-boxes and play stations. The older ones just live on their smart phones, and are texting away. Even the adults are restless without TV and cable. Even when they get power back, they don't usually get cable.

If you had asked me before, I'd say that loss of lighting, refrigeration, and air conditioning would have been the big issues. But no -- electronic games, computers, TV, microwaves, and hot showers were the things they were complaining about. You go figure.

If you lost power -- and some people here are going on 5 days now -- what would you miss most? What would you expect folks in the cities to get upset about? How about homesteaders who are on the grid?
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Old 09-01-2011, 12:49 PM
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Glad you made it through OK.

I know just what you are talking about with the electronics and our attention addiction to them.

Since my kids were little we have engaged them it lots of off the grid activities. Lots and Lots of board and card games. Build things with junk laying around, arts and crafts. Creating games from imagination like hide and seek, cops and robbers that kind of stuff. Also READING. Being able to sit for several hours with a book and just read.

Even with the e-readers and solar chargers, I am making sure I have a good collection of written reference materials/ manuals and reading books on hand.
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Old 09-01-2011, 04:55 PM
Location: Nebraska
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I don't mind being without power inside the house. I can heat with and cook on my woodstove; I have lots of things to do that don't need power, like handquilting using my quilting frame. Kerosene lamps and candles provide light if we need it. If the power is out too long, we just put everything from the freezer onto the shelves on our (uninsulated) back porch. We can heat water on the cookstove for baths, and we have water storage in the basement if the town pumps go out (although they only use the pumps to fill the tower, everything else is either under natural pressure, wind-pumped or gravity-fed). We play cards and dominoes and board games a lot of the time anyway, so we are never really bored. Outside the house it can be a different matter; if it's below freezing (and it usually is when we lose power!) we have to go break off the ice over the trough so the cattle and horse can drink. If you've ever slammed an iron bar down on an icepack on a trough and had the danged thing BOUNCE up and out of your hand - it's painful, especially in the cold. My critters don't like being cold but I have ones that tolerate it; even the chickens are heavy and well-feathered. They'll complain but that's about it. Sometimes last winter the cattle had a sheet of ice on their backs; as long as it doesn't grow over their muzzles, they're fine. We grain them up pretty heavily in the winter, so they have a good layer of fat. When the wind is harsh (50 mph +) they stay in the corral and barns and nestle in the hay and straw. The cows and chickens are meat on the hoof or claw, if the power goes out for an extended period of time! We have dehydrated as well as home-canned food to rely on. We're on the grid but are trying to wean ourselves off of it; and having a generator (which we do) is a temporary stopgap measure, not something we want to depend on for surviveability.

While some people might group together and survive happily for awhile, sharing soups and stews like you and your neighbors did, an extended power outage that causes food to spoil in homes and in stores, where nothing can be brought in because it can't be stocked in reefers or freezers, city people would start to get anxious. The lack of mind-numbing entertainment on TVs, Computers, and iPods for a few weeks, added to the general fears of not having enough food or not being able to access the food lines or government-sponsored shelters, water bottles, ice, etc, would probably cause many - who live on daily or twice-weekly shopping trips and have no storage to dip into - to get more and more antsy and fearful. Not to mention that in hot weather, diseases can spread rapidly especially if there is no garbage pickup; rats and bugs would become commonplace contenders for homes and food. A minor outbreak of any sort of disease would quickly escalate, if the hospital generators fail and the water and sewer pumps fail. Sick people whose immune systems are weakened by diminished food or contaminated water would infect others, and fear and hunger, thirst and anger, fueled by the heat that is unstoppable with air conditioning or even fans, would continue to deteriorate the social fabric. A shelter or a neighborhood that runs out of ice, or food, or water, would have to be able to deal, and deal quickly, with people who become angry and violent, or riots would start and spread. Many folks can't survive for very long without their washer and dryer, their stove, their coffeemakers, their A/C, heat, and fans, especially after their TV, computers, and iPods die, and many in the inner cities don't have access to grills or fireplaces or woodstoves on which to cook or heat water. If their water is shut off, their stoves don't cook, and they start to get hungry or ill, their thin veneer of civilization will -eventually- crack.
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Old 09-01-2011, 05:58 PM
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I got a buddy in RI, who just came back today. I was on a genny, the whole time till yesterday (Wed). because this place is a business doing international custom machines, we must have full time power for the shop and the house.

I took a mc ride yesterday and it's almost impossle in NH to go west from here to even get north into Canada for the moment, if you are east of I-93.

Rt 302 in Glen was a full blown river. The road there is higher than many homes and the homes of course were flooded. The road side there has sand bars now. That's odd looking. Some bridges are just gone, not there. Other placed are missing a lane or more.

Currently roads are blocked, and you can get a big ticket, maybe arrested for any violation, so going to see what's missing is out of the question here.
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Old 09-02-2011, 12:30 AM
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Nor'Eastah - really happy to hear you're safe and sound!

No children in our home and if we lost power for an extended time the biggest issue would be the freezer and bathing. However - we have a smoker, a firepit and a grill with some experience making jerky. All those BOGO roasts and London broils would get spiced and marinated to be dried. And the woodstove would heat enough water to make me able to live with myself.

Entertainment? We have 7 wooded acres of our own plus the surrounding area. I bead and could do it by kerosene light if I was that bored. And we have a cupboard of board games, cards and a cribbage board.
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Old 09-02-2011, 12:51 AM
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I guess I should clarify a bit also - we normally live with computer, television with WAY too many channels, Android phones for both of us etc. However we are really trying to to work towards more self sufficiency and being able to sustain ourselves somewhat. Example is all of the berries, plants, and mushrooms that we have not only on our property but also all over the island we live on.
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:46 AM
Location: Staten Island, New York
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Glad you're OK!
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Old 09-02-2011, 02:07 PM
Location: Backwoods of Maine
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Thanks everybody, for your good wishes, and responses.

I have been thinking about some other lessons to memorize for "someday's" test:

1 - Have a 12VDC charger for your cell, laptop, spotlight, whatever you will need to charge, for the car.
2 - If you are on a well, as we are, and don't have a generator, be sure to fill your tub at the first warning of a potential problem. So many people could not flush the toilets or wash their hands.
3 - Hurricanes usually hit New England in the late August to early October timeframe, when the summer heat has moderated but no heating for winter is needed. Other events may not be so well-timed. Think "portable" and "batteries". If you live in a warm climate, consider an O2Cool fan, which runs on batteries and 12VDC. If you live up north, think about auxiliary heat that's portable, such as kerosene heaters and propane units, like the "Big Buddy" from Mr. Heater.
4 - I was surprised at how many people did not have a portable radio! They had to go out to their cars to get any news. Buy yourself a decent portable radio that runs on batteries, and stock batteries for it. The CCRadio 2 by C. Crane is a good one, as it gets the 2 meter ham band as well as AM and FM. Ham radio monitoring could be crucial in an emergency.
5 - Start to think 12VDC anyway. Automotive or marine batteries are not that expensive. Get a new one and hook it up to a 10 or 20 watt solar panel (small and inexpensive) to keep it charged. You can then run other devices off this. I'm dreaming of a 12VDC house someday!

These are just some of the thoughts that come to mind when thinking over the past week. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that people get weary when the grid is down! Some can tolerate 2-3 days of it, but 5 days gets to most people, and I can only imagine what 2 weeks would do to the majority! Think about where you would go if you had to get away from a throng of people made suddenly upset, angry, and uncomfortable to the point where they could no longer control their frustration over the lack of power, water, news, diversions like TV, and all the rest. Give this some serious thought. We still have folks here in RI getting close to a week with no power!
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Old 09-02-2011, 02:46 PM
Location: FROM Dixie, but IN SoCal
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First and foremost, I'm glad you and yours are okay!!!

Second, since I'm originally from the central Gulf Coast, I understand quite well what you went thru. On the Gulf Coast, peak hurricane season (Aug-Sept) coincides with some of the hottest and most humid weather. So, it seemed, after every hurricane the weather was HOT (90+ degrees) and HUMID (90+ percent) with not even the slightest breeze. Because of the typical heavy cloud "blanket", the night-time temps only dropped into the mid- to high-80's. This, of course, caused the relative humidity to get even higher.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the thing I wished for most was a fan (or a/c, as long as I'm wishing) to help me sleep at night!!!

Last edited by Nighteyes; 09-02-2011 at 03:55 PM..
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Old 09-02-2011, 03:10 PM
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Glad that you are okay. Yes, I have seen people on the news, pretty upset that they don't have power yet. And yes, a battery powered fan is nice to have after a hurricane, that was in my kit when I lived in Florida. I have gone without power in hot weather, and gone with out power in cold weather, and believe me...going without power in hot weather is much better than no power after a blizzard, the house gets cold, and without a fire place, you are really cold! Having experienced it, I never want to live in another home without a fire place or woodstove.
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