Welcome to 'Attic of the Heart'!

Welcome from north-central Connecticut! In this blog I will share whatever is in my heart, on my mind, or something interesting I've found to share. Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Power outage in CT...

(The branches are usually at least 6 feet off the ground under this oak tree!)

Well, much has happened since my last post. I did promise to do better about posting, and seems
I got worse instead. Here goes another try at doing better. :0)

I'm sure most of you heard about our big snow storm here in Connecticut Halloween weekend. Oh yeah. It was a doozy. We rec'd 12", but I read one area rec'd 32"! Wow. Well, regardless of the amount, we still lost power. The storm started about 1pm on Saturday, October 29th. We were out shopping. We actually stood in front of a kerosene heater at Home Depot, but didn't make a purchase. Go figure... but then again, I haven't heard good things about them. So maybe it was for the best. We will never know.
We decided to come home early as the roads were getting slippery. I ran a bath tub full of water in case the power goes out. You know, I've done this for a long time, and always feel guilty about wasting all that water as we've never needed to use it. WELL! We used nearly every drop of it this time.
I also pulled of 3 pitcher full of water. I figured a day at most, right? We also had gone to Costco, and purchased 2 bulk packs of water for my husband to drink at work. We had one in the cart, and I said 'Honey, why don't we get an extra one so we don't run out before Christmas?' So we did. Am I ever glad! We went through one whole case that week.
I washed up the dishes, checked the flashlights and candles out, so I knew where they were.

That night, after we went to bed, the power went out about midnight. I kept waking up all night long, listening to branches groaning and snapping off. It was eerie. All was very quiet except for that. I kept worrying about the trees close to the house. At one point, I did hear one slid down the side of the house. Turns out, the large branch just messed up the gutter. Thank you Lord!

The next morning told the tale. Did it ever. About 8am I was out taking pictures, wading through the snow. I was astounded. I had never seen devastation from a snow storm like this. Wires were down, branches, trees, it was...unbelievable.

My neighbor had just made a deal to trade his truck in. A WHOLE TREE just missed his truck by less than a foot. Amazing. Not to mention it was scarily close to his house as well. He had to cut it up just to get out of his driveway. Many, MANY people had the same problem. The figures say over 2,000,000 people were without power at one time. Most of CT, parts of MASS, VT, and NH. Even southern Maine. This was an unprecedented event for CT.

So Sunday goes by, with the drama of checking out the neighbors yards, clearing enough brush to get out of one's own driveway, and just coping with the initial shock of things. Sunday night, the temps dropped. Down to 27F. That cooled things off considerably, and we started losing house heat. If it stays above freezing, it's not as bad. But when it gets that cold...

Monday. The power is still off. Reports are filtering in this could take awhile. We are in denial. Can't be! They are just saying that so people won't get their hopes up. We've NEVER been without power longer than 8 hours here in CT. Personally, we did go through the ice storm of 1998, and were without power for 3 days. I moved in with my cousins during that time, as they had a woodstove in their basement. We coped the best we could. No work for my hubby, no power there either. We decided to put the flannels on the bed, and the flannel cover on the duvet. I uncovered the BBQ on the back deck, and boiled water for tea on the propane burner, which we had actually never used before, and we've owned that BBQ for at least 5 years. I BBQ'd something to eat, and tried to use up what I could in the fridge.

That night, we had flannel sheets, 2 duvets, 3 blankets and a quilt on our bed. I wore socks, and flannel nighty to bed. The next night, I added a knit cap to my head, and got into bed with my fleecy slippers on till it warmed up. And we were warm. It was the warmest we would be the whole time. We also have a feather bed topper on our mattress, and that holds heat really nicely. So we were toasty once things warmed up. But boy, that room got cold. Down to 46F.

I started to understand why 'Ma in her kerchief and Pa in his Cap' went to bed with hats on. I really get it now! And it does really help.
I worried about the hot water baseboard pipes freezing. Our house never got below 46F, thank God. But every night, I'd lay awake worrying just the same, when the weather report called for below 32F temps.

First, I would get into bed fully dressed, and warm up my night clothes, and change under the covers. Then I got smart and started dressing for bed in the one room that had a bit of heat, the family room. It has a fireplace, but it smokes quite a bit, so it was hard on us, especially my DH who has a bit of asthma. But we were desperate. We also had only a few chunks of wood from the occasional branch we had cut up the year before. I considered calling to see if we could get a cord delivered, but doubted availability, and how long the power would really be off.

Tuesday, more of the same. Except for a miracle. That night about 6pm, we got a call from a guy who works for my husband. He said he had a camp generator he wasn't using, would be like it? OH YEAH!!!!! We met him half way to pick it up, and was able to get it started about 8pm that night. On the back deck, in the dark, cold, with a flashlight. We didn't know anything about generators, but this came with some gas, oil just changed out, and it started on the second pull.
We also had 2 orange heavy duty outdoor extension cords. I can't tell you how handy those were, because the generator would have been useless to us without them.

We had heat!!!! and Lights!!! We have a floor to ceiling curtain hung in the doorway of our family room in the winter, to keep the heat in that room, as my honey likes to run the electric heater there in the evenings to be extra toasty. So we plugged in the heater, and a light. We even managed to run the TV as well. We had to run the cords under the patio doors. We ran one to the kitchen, then into the family room afterwards along with the other.

The generator was a Honda 2000W. If you've never checked out the wattages on your appliances, now is the time. For instance. The electric heater takes 1500 W. This means only 500 watts left for lights, tv, freezer, fridge. The electric tea kettle, hair dryer, toaster oven, microwave all take at least 1200W - 1800W EACH. This means I could only use one item at a time. It wasn't nearly enough to run the stove or dryer.

We did have the neighbor wire up the furnace through the circuit breaker, but ran into trouble with the furnace. We ended up getting a new one. I think something cracked in it - it was 25 years old and was going down hill fast. In hind sight, we wouldn't run the furnace without the water pump too, as it's an oil-fired hot water boiler. This meant we had to limp along for5 more days after the power came on with a 1/2 working fumey furnace. I had to run a window fan 24/7 so we wouldn't breath nasty fumes.

Wednesday, it was starting to sink in that this really would last awhile. I was also starting to get a routine down. My routine began with boiling water first, to wash up and wash my hair. Washing my hair made me feel so much better that I began doing it every morning. The first 3 days, I didn't wash it at all. By Wednesday, I couldn't stand it anymore, even though it didn't look that bad.
I can't tell you how good a hot wet facecloth feels with your kitchen is 46 - 50F. What a wonderful thing! :0)

Then I plugged the hair dryer in and dried my hair. I was starting to feel half way normal! Then, I ran the toaster oven to heat my muffin. Fortunately I had a big supply of homemade muffins in the freezer. Speaking of the freezer, we managed, just in the nick of time, to save everything except the seafood and fish. That seems to thaw out so quickly, so we tossed it to be safe. Also lost all the dairy in the fridge, but most things were ok. We would run both a couple of times a day for a few hours to keep things cold. Even then, the freezer never got as cold as it does when running full time.

I then had to plan what I was going to BBQ that day. I did chicken, pork chops, fried eggs on the griddle part of the BBQ, and boiled potatoes and veggies on the burner. It was a good meal. I also ran the microwave no longer than 2 minutes at a time to reheat things, because it didn't seem to want to run at full power on the generator. This can ruin them, so I'm told. So be sure to get a bigger generator than this.

I cooked all the food we'd eat that day at noon. It was the sunniest, brightest time of day outside. Days are short in the winter, and I quickly found out I had to do plan my day well to take advantage of the light. Then I'd do the dishes, once each day, late afternoon. I had to boil water for the dishwater, and when it's cold, it doesn't stay hot for very long. Do you know how many times a day I usually wash my hands? Well, I got used to cold water for that.

Speaking of water, since we had no running water, we did the 'if it's yellow, let it mellow' thing. We flushed in the morning, and then before we went to bed, unless needed earlier. We used the water from the tub. Another thing. Have at least 2 buckets on hand. Downright handy things, buckets.

I started getting creative when the water got low in the tub. I found 3 large containers, 2 of them garbage cans, to collect the water from the snow melting off the roof. It filled all three and then some! Of course, that's contingent on warm enough days and snow to melt. It was warmer outside than in my house during the day. I opened the doors and windows, but the sun is so low this time of year, and the days are too short to do any good, unless it's above 60F. And do you think this house has any windows on the south side??! Nope. Definitely NOT a passive solar home. So we spent time outside during the day, just to warm up. By the end of the week, it got to 60F outside, so at least we had that relief, and I worried less about bursting pipes.

By 6pm, I tried to have the family room warming up, soup heated, tea ready to go, and things all done that required light to see by so when my DH got home from work (as production manager, he had to go in each day to try and sub jobs out to those who had power in the lower part of the state, even though no one else came to work, because customers were calling. Those with power had no patience, it seemed. Good grief.).

Even with the generator,you can only plug so many things in at a time. One small light in the kitchen doesn't illuminate much. We had one good flashlight, and a couple 'get by' ones. Everyone should invest in at least one decent flashlight. I can't tell you how handy that was, when we were out in the dark trying to fill the generator with gas, or down in the furnace room mucking up water leaking from the furnace that we discovered just before bedtime.

My DH had to wait over an hour to get gas for the truck and generator. The line was 2 - 3 miles long. There were only 2 gas stations with 1/2 hour that were open. This is a highly populated state. Have 2 gas cans - one as a backup, while you take the other to be filled. Lesson learned.

Well, there are many more things I want to tell you all, but this is enough for now. I really wanted to have this well thought out, and orderly, but I think I'd be here until the New Year in that case, so please bear with me!

Till next time, stay warm, stay safe.