The outage in upstate New York 1989
One day in summer of 1989, I came back to the apartment in the State University of New York at Albany student village at fuller Road. The sky was dark green and one of the seemingly every three days occurring summer thunder storms was grumbling about a mile or so away. Despite it was late in the afternoon, it seemed dark like dawn. I turned the key, the door squeaked as usual. “Thanks goodness, you are here.” I heard my apartment mate jelling. She sat on the couch and looked scared like she’d had an encounter with an alien or something like that. “What’s up? What happened? Are you ok?” I asked walking towards her. “No, I’m not! There’s an outage. No light, no TV. No micro-wave. It’s dark. I’m scared. What are you thinking why I’m sitting here with candles?” “The electricity will came back. Probably just a tree fell in the power-lines due to the gust front of the thunderstorm. Electricity will be back once they fixed it. Stay calm.” I said. She cried and her body was shaking. I remember I had a hard time trying to calm her down. Back then I didn’t understand why an outage did upset her that much. She was an adult, a 22 year old, straight A student. Why would anyone be scared of an outage?
Skip forward and up North to the Last Frontier
Last week, a warm snow storm went over the Interior of Alaska. It dumped a lot of wet snow. Temperatures were around the freezing point. At about 23F (-5oC), snow is very wet and sticky. Thus, it can accumulate very easily on twigs. It won’t fall off. The trees even bend under the load of snow that just doesn’t slip off. Instead the snow behaves like a big blanket. See the photos of the snow blankets on the railing of our deck. Some of the trees just can’t hold the heavy load and break. When they are close to a power-line they may fall into the line and pull it down. The result: An outage.
What I did when we had an outage last week
Many trees fell into power-lines. We had an outage during the night, which was fixed fast. Then we got several outages early in the morning. One of them lasted, but I had to go to work. Thus, I took my husband’s car repair lamp and put it into the bathroom while I took a shower. I made it short. Water on, getting wet. Water off. Put on soap, water on, rinsed off the soap, water off, out of the shower. Two minutes! Who knows how long the outage will stay? Thus, I wanted to save warm water.
I just wanted to save hot water. I still remember what it means to wash yourself with snow. But that was because we had no water.
Why outages are scary in the Interior in winter
After the snowfall, temperatures dropped. At an ambient air temperature of -4F (-20oC) the temperature in our house drops about 5F every hour when the furnace is off. Unfortunately, furnaces require electricity. When the house’s indoor temperature falls below the freezing point your water pipes will start freezing. Frozen water pipes may break as water extends when it freezes. Everyone probably has made that experience in summer. Putting a bottle of beer in the freezer and forgetting about it. LOL.During outages I'm afraid indoor temperatures could fall below the freezing point. Click To Tweet
So far, in our now over 16.5 years in Alaska, we had been lucky. The longest outage we had was about five hours. But we have friends who had been without power for a week or so.
No electricity means also no internet
That’s the scariest for a fashion blogger. O.k., I’m exaggerating right now. Around New Year’s there were problems with our internet connection due to trees cutting lines. It’s amazing how one misses the internet today. You can’t even look up a telephone number without it. In the Interior, the internet is so vulnerable.
Dressing in the (semi) dark
After my shower I had to dress and do the make-up. I went for a black and white outfit as that’s easiest doing when you have a badly illuminated closet due to an outage. I hoped that the university wouldn’t be affected by the outage as they have their own power plant. I was lucky, they had power so I did my makeup in the restroom at work.
Getting to work when the traffic lights are down
Of course, we had to open the garage door by hand. But that’s not a big deal. However, when I approached the major road I saw that the traffic lights were out. “OMG,” I thought “how long will it take me to cross this major road during rush hour?” This time I was scared about the outage. I feared that I would stand there forever. However, in the Interior people are so friendly. The drivers on that major road stopped when they saw more than three cars in the small roads. They let them pass and then went on. People in the Interior are just fantastic. General support seems like an unwritten law.
What happens when there is an outage where you live? Have you ever had to take a shower or dress in the dark? Are you scared about outage?
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Photos: G. Kramm, N. Mölders
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