A New Found Appreciation

by Curt Kovener curt-line.jpg

Earlier in his career George Strait sang about the pretty unbelievable “I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona.”

But after Southern Indiana experienced a Category 1 Hurricane on Sunday, Sept. 14, maybe George can see the sea from his front porch.

News and weather forecasters said Hurricane Ike was an incredibly large storm. We Hoosiers sometimes get the heavy rain effect of a former hurricane but this is the first in anyone’s memory we experienced long time sustained wind some weather scientists said were 80 mph. Winds hammered the area all afternoon long.

Power went out on the east side around noon on Sunday and wasn’t restored until Wednesday evening.

Being without electricity for three and a half days caused a new found appreciation for the stable, reliable energy we obviously too often take for granted. A power outage of 3-4 hours is just an mere annoyance, no matter how much important TV viewing you think you might be missing. Power out long enough to cause food to spoil and force us to bed at 9 p.m. because the house is now dark caused me to be philosophical.

Here are some observations of having only home generated power for three days.

•Cell phone batteries die quicker when there is not readily available source to recharge them.

•Dinner by candlelight can be romantic except if that is the only method you have of seeing what is on your plate.

•When the power is off, it is “Early to bed & early to rise” even if that rise is use the flashlight to see if it is time to get up. On that first very dark Monday morning our battery backed up alarm clock went off. Getting up we began our usual beginning the day of brushing teeth, feeding the animals, taking the daily dose of pills. Then I glanced at the battery powered clock. It was 3:30. So we go back to bed and the dog and cats were totally confused.

•In the country it is dark and the stars are vivid because there is no ambient light. When the power is off in town, the stars are just as vivid.

•It is too quiet to sleep when the power is off in town. There is no noise, no fan noise, no refrigerator or freezer noise, no buzzing no humming, nothing—just the whir of tires on pavement from I-65 a mile away. At least at the woodland retreat the crickets, frogs and night birds sing a lullaby to aid in slumber.

•Computers and printers can work off of a small generator, but they don’t like to. Especially when you ask the printer to spit out a newspaper page. The fuser in the printer causes the surge protector to chatter and the governor on the generator to open up.

•I can very quickly grow fatigued of the aroma of small engine exhaust and the splash of gasoline on the hands while refilling a running generator.

•Old habits are hard to break. Numerous times I went into a darkened room knowing there was no electricity but flipped the light switch anyway. A reversal of motions was follow by the self directed comment, “You big dummy.”

•I am grateful for friends and family who came to my aid to keep the freezer frozen and keep the newspaper in production. Miz Mary & I are also grateful my mother lives on the west side where there was power and a hot shower. And coffee—hot, fresh coffee. And I am grateful her wise sons agreed last year that she should get a high speed internet connection for it aided in producing last week & a part of this week’s newspaper.

Despite the travails of enduring three whole days without power, there are others who endured even longer. I have a deeper empathy for their thinning patience and hardship. We all think we have some pioneer spirit remaining in us. And some of us do, but operating 21st century technology can quickly get crosswise with a pioneer spirit.

There was some talk floating about that the reason it was taking so long for electric lines to be re-energized is that Duke Energy sent repair crews from Indiana to help with the power outage problems in Galveston and Houston, Texas. Therefore leaving the home front vulnerable to delayed repairs.

Not true according to Chip Orben, Business Relations Manager with Duke Energy. He said the company saw the inland path weather scientists predicted Ike would take and it led to Indiana. “I’ve heard that story but it is not accurate. We kept our crews here. This was a very widespread storm causing just a lot of damage and that takes time to safely repair,” said Orben, adding that private electric contractors were hired to assist with re-energizing lines.

On Wednesday around noon, about 20 electric & tree service trucks rendevoued at the Dollar Store parking lot like the cavalry about to save the wagon train, like rounding up a posse to rescue a damsel in distress (remember we were without electric so pioneer metaphors are appropriate) And the town was abuzz. We were like being kids on Christmas Eve. We didn’t know exactly when, but we knew it would very soon be very good.

I have some experiences dealing with a variety of insurance claims adjusters. But since I have learned you shouldn’t insult the alligator until after you cross the river, I will withhold comment until after their check clears the bank.

Hurricane in Indiana?…maybe with Global Warming there will be oceanfront property in Arizona.