Back in the far wastelands of 2010, when the Affordable Care Act hadn't been signed yet and so we had all these different and exciting things to fight about, an ice storm blew into Dallas and knocked out our power for four days. This was four days in the coldest part of winter, I might add. I think a couple of nights it got below zero, or very close to zero, and I smuggled in neighborhood cat Orange Guy so that he could sleep somewhere warm. (He was a perfect gentleman, too.) We kept the house sort of warmish with our gas fireplace, and everybody slept on the living room floor in a pile of cushions close to the fire. It was dark and cold and altogether not fun. So you'll pardon me if, every time the power's gone out since, my anxiety skyrockets and I start pacing the floor. On some level I'm just absolutely convinced it's going to happen again.
And as it turned out, I was right. Last Thursday, a storm blew through Dallas. It wasn't really that much to write home about; just some rain and a lot of wind. Fierce wind, but not unusual for around here. I mean, we do get storms here, people. We're at the very south end of Tornado Alley, and just because Dallas County's never been hit with a tornado higher than an EF-2 doesn't mean that it couldn't someday happen. Anyway, 300,000 people across five counties lost power. Including yours truly and Joan, of course.
I will say, losing power in the summer beats the hell out of losing it in the winter. No gas fireplace required, for one thing. We just braced open a couple of windows and got a cross-breeze going. We still had the gas stove upon which to cook, the hot water in the tank stayed relatively hot (seeing as it wasn't cold out), we packed the refrigerator and freezer full of ice to preserve the food, and apart from a total lack of TV, radio, Internet and Words with Friends, it was a lot more survivable. But, again, not exactly what you'd call fun.
This time the power stayed off for three days. I would just like to say, what is up with that? Once again, we get these storms. They happen. Trees get knocked down. Power poles lose their moorings. Why in hell do 300,000 people have to lose power for three days in a situation like this? I mean, I'd suggest we've learned absolutely nothing from past experience, but I personally had all our trees cut back that came anywhere near our power lines (and had one tree removed altogether). And people frequently write outraged letters to the editor when the electric delivery company around here, Oncor, comes around and chops off the tops of their trees. They can do that. It's their job. To gauge from these letters, though, you'd think that Oncor stomped onto their lawns, shotguns drawn, whacked the trees in half, spit on the porch steps and mooned the homeowners on the way out. Honestly. If it were me I'd be thanking them. The last time our tree service came over and did some major work, the bill was well over a thousand dollars.
(And I could point out that if you take care of your own trees and don't let them get tall enough to mess with the power lines, Oncor's never going to bother you, but I get continually reminded about the utter uselessness of attacking a problem like this with logic and reasoning.)
I'm beginning to suspect that we in this town might have what is known as a hopelessly antiquated electrical delivery system. Newer cities do things like bury their electrical lines underground, where they're basically immune to falling trees. (Though I suppose you might find the occasional deep-fried gopher.) I'm wondering what it would take to get our power lines buried here in Dallas. A miracle? An act of Congress? An act of the City Council, anyway, and since that would require spending some money, I'd be tempted to write if off as totally impossible.
I'd also be tempted to get a bunch of my neighbors together, form a special district, apply for grants and see if we can get it done for a fairly reasonable amount of money per homeowner. Which is something else that might be written off as totally impossible.
Except for one small thing. I've done it before.
Or something similar, anyway. Granted, I was the de facto president of a homeowner's association at the time, but I managed to get a heavily Hispanic population of homeowners to pack up all their living beings and move out for termite tenting over EASTER WEEKEND. You know, the biggest religious festival of the year. That thing where everybody has relatives over and throws lots of parties. And no, I didn't pick the weekend. I just got stuck with having to implement it. And implement it I did. Some of them even still spoke to me after it was all over.
Do I miss being the de facto president of a homeowner's association? No, I do not. I'd rather be dragged naked through flaming walls of rabid rattlesnakes. So don't worry, I'm not going to start signing up homeowners tomorrow or anything. But this is an ongoing problem and I don't see it getting any better. What's worse, it's a big problem. The kind you need other people to help solve. I do not want to go through another three-day blackout, no matter what time of year it is. Besides the niceties of existing in the 21st century when you're powered for the 19th, there's the joy of driving to work through traffic caused by flashing red traffic signals. It took me an hour and a half to get to work Friday morning. And it's only a frick'n 20 minute drive.