Wednesday, September 17, 2008


By Annette Dashofy

If you’re expecting to read the second installment of my ride-along adventures, I apologize. While the piece is written, it’s also locked up inside my PC. The one in my home office. Where the remnants of Hurricane Ike blew through on Sunday night and knocked out our electricity.

I won’t mention that the power went out right at kickoff for the Steelers game. I will mention that the power company says it should be restored this afternoon. Two days ago, they said it would be restored by yesterday afternoon. Some reports say power won’t be on until Saturday.

I’m in marathon mode. No more of that sprint mentality. Oh, certainly the electric will be back on in a couple hours.

We have a generator powering our water pump (the joys of country living…no city water), our freezer, and our refrigerator. Our camper sits in the front yard. Its propane provides hot water for showers and washing dishes. It also provides a working stove and oven.

Our phone lines are down, too. Cell service has been iffy. And, obviously, I have no Internet. I’m posting this from my laptop in a coffee shop.

So, I’m in the dark. Powerless. Literally. If there is anything good about having no access to electricity and Internet, it’s that I’m doing the only thing left…I’m reading! No TV, no radio, no distractions. Currently I’m reading MAD MOUSE by Chris Grabenstein.

Unless Allegheny Power pulls a rabbit out of their hat and restores my service early, I won’t be able to respond to comments. So chat among yourselves. What are you reading? Share your stories about being left in the dark.

And come back next week when I will make every effort to post Part 2 of Along for the Ride.


Anonymous said...

Annette -
As a former electric utility employee, my view of service interruptions may be different than many people's. We take electricity so much for granted that we seem to forget how marvelous it is that sufficient power is generally available to meet our needs 24/7. Just stick in a plug and appliances work. Making that power and getting it through hundreds of miles of wire so it comes out in our homes on demand at the proper voltage is incredibly complex, and when a storm like Ike blows through and brings down so many poles and wires, there's really nothing that can be done but put things back together, piece by piece, until the power is safely restored. Be careful when the power comes back on, though. Sometimes when storms topple trees and bring down wires, higher voltage wires will come into contact with lower voltage wires, causing a power surge that damages appliances. As long as the power is off, this isn't noticeable because the damaged appliances aren't working. When the power comes back on though, they may begin to smoke or even spark. It's best to unplug things until you know for sure they're safe.

Anonymous said...

We live in the woods of Aspinwall - a town full of 100 year old maple trees and boy do we get hit. We caught the microburst six months ago that kept jumping up the river - it wiped out a line of sycamores on 4th street and dropped 1/3 of a big maple on top of my neighbors porch. He was pretty cool about it, calling the insurance company and a contractor and telling everyone he was going to save the tree.

Then, on Sunday the maple split in half and took out his porch roof for the second time in six months. I couldn't believe it when I saw it - thought I was having a flashback. Same tree, same porch. Yikes!

Ah, the joys of home ownership!

I hope everyone stays safe!

Anonymous said...

My home was fine, but we were without power at work for a day and a half. Actually, for me it was a blessing. We ended up cancelling the training I was giving Monday, and what looked like it was going to be the week from Hell turned into me actually having a chance to organize my office.

The funniest story from the outage, I think, was yesterday when I got my boss to talk to the bosses from the unit I used to work on about room assignments (rooms without windows being unuseable because of no light.) There's an ongoing rivalry between departments that I've been trying to mend without much success.

The discussion got off to a somewhat defensive/ confrontative start. However, after a few minutes, everyone settled down and we reached a mutually agreeable, workable solution.

A moment later, the lights went back on! Sort of an act of God: our two departments had seen the light. At least, that's how it felt.

All in all, I'm grateful for Hurricane Ike.

Joyce Tremel said...

Out here, north of Pittsburgh, we came through just fine. Our power went out about three times, but the longest was for only a few minutes. I like it when the power goes out, especially if both kids are around. We usually play board games by candlelight.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Here in St. Louis, we've had some reports of 6 to 7 inches of rain in 4 or 5 hours as Ike blew through. 50 mph sustained winds. All the rivers and streams are flooding (AGAIN). The scary part was that rivers and stream levels rose at a rate that we have never seen before.

Many people were caught stranded in trees on car roofs and on the roofs of their homes. Normally I say "Idiots!" However, this flooding was in populated metro areas that have NEVER been flooded before. I think St. Louis is almost back to normal except the major flooding on the major rivers, as I said, again. The Mississippi just got back to its banks last month after being in flood stage since March.

Personally, I spent Sunday morning and early afternoon at Starbucks so I could work on my 2nd novel. We were without power from 8 AM to 2 PM. Unfortunately, the power came on in time to see the end of the RAMS game. Ouch again.

Jenna said...

Nashville was spared this time around. Of course, we have tornadoes touch down pretty regularly... My neighborhood was right in the path of the 1998 tornado, that tore through East Nashville and did millions upon millions of dollars in damage. Electricity was out for a week or more, the inlaws were visiting from PA, I worked for the convention and visitor's bureau at the time, fielding all the calls... In retrospect, though, it was a great thing, because people finally got the money they needed to fix up their houses, much better than they were before the tornado, and the last ten years have been incredible, as far as real estate and property values are concerned. Still, being without electricity is a bummer.

I just started reading - of all things - 'Working Stiff' by Tori Carrington yesterday. Fourth in the Sofie Metropolis PI series set in Astoria, Queens, where I used to live. Fun, fun, fun! 'Mad Mouse' is good, though, Annette, once you get over the present tense, which is very jarring to me at first. Chris Grabenstein is excellent, and a very interesting guy, too. Did you know that he was the genius behind the 'Make 7 - Up Yours' T-shirt campaign some years back?

Anonymous said...

After the bowling lanes went dark Sunday night, I drove home via Route 28--avoiding my regular route through town cause I didn't know what traffic lights were working, and I certainly wanted to avoid streets filled with angry (and no doubt drunken) Steeler fans PO'd that their sports bar's screens had gone blank. Talk about a scary ride--leaves and branches and trash were swirling crazily on the road, and the trees above Aspinwall (I feel your pain, Martha) looked as tho they were being twisted out of the ground. Highland Avenue was an obstacle course--Monday was trash day, so the street was littered with all matter of debris. I've never been so glad to get home in one piece. Monday our office building--as well as a good part of Bridgeville--was in the dark. Nice to have an unexpected day off, but on returning to work Tuesday, found my computer's motherboard had burned out! Looks like I'll be getting that new work computer (hooray) sooner rather than later.

Jenna said...

Mike, I remember after the Nashville tornado hit, trying to get home. The tornado happened at 4 o'clock or thereabouts, on a Thursday afternoon. I was in downtown. I lived about two miles away, as the crow flies. I left downtown about 4:30, maybe closer to 5, and I got home at 9, after walking a mile. The rest of the time was spent driving in circles, trying to find a way through. But there were trees and powerlines blocking every street in our part of town, and pitch black. It was like a war zone. Not that I've ever seen one, but that's what I imagine they'd be like. We all walked around in shock for days. Totally freaky. And everything's so quiet when all the generators and refrigerators and air conditioning units are off...

Congratulations on the new computer, though!

Anonymous said...

It's weird when everything goes pitch black, isn't it? I like to go out during the outages that affect my house and walk around the neighborhood -- it looks completely different, no light but candles behind curtains or the occasional passing headlights. Kinda scary, but exhilarating.

Anonymous said...

Jennie, you're right--a post-storm quiet is something else. What was also so remarkable about that drive home--amid all the wind and debris, I would look up and see a practically cloudless sky and a full moon. As for the bowling lanes, another wierd discontent: one minute it's the crash and clang of balls hitting the lanes and pins being reset and music blaring out of oversized speakers and the next it's pitch dark and deadly quiet. Very strange.

Annette said...

Celebration! My power came back on twenty minutes ago. My computer works, my Internet works, nothing smoked or fried (thanks for the information, Gina). But now I have to run off to pick up a prescription for my mom before teaching yoga, so no time to catch up on email.

Glad everyone made it through the storm. Mike, your experience sounds terrifying. Wil, glad you're safe! Wow.

The only news I've had the last few days has been the good old newspaper and stories of Galveston and other areas hard hit by Ike kept me from whining too much about our relatively mild difficulties.

Finished MAD MOUSE this morning, by the way. Loved it. Yes the present tense takes some getting used to, but Chris is one of the few writers who can pull it off.

Okay, folks, I promise to have the Ride Along piece for next week. Thanks for sharing all your tales of storm woes. Feel free to continue the conversation while I go teach yoga...

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Speaking of Galveston and Ike and at the risk of sounding commpassionless. Does anybody have any feelings about the... uh... fine people that required rescueing, even though they were given the mandatory evacuation order three days in advance?

Now, I'm glad those people were rescued, but come on. With he hurricanes we've had over the past few years. Bless their hearts, when will people get it?

Annette said...

Will, if I lived in hurricane country I'd probably be one of the first to vacate the premises, but when Hurricane Ivan (what IS it with the initial "I" hurricanes and Pennsylvania???) hit us with more rain than we'd ever seen before in such a short period of time, I stubbornly stayed home while watching the water creep closer and closer to my house. Before long, if I had wanted to leave, I couldn't as the road in front of my house was under water in both directions.

Yeah, I'd have been one of the idiots needing rescuing IF the water hadn't decided to recede right about then.

Wilfred Bereswill said...


You likely weren't told 3 days beforehand to evacuate. I totally understand when things happen without warning. First, Penns. is a long way from the coast where there's a storm surge of 15 to 20 feet.

Afterall, Galveston was destroyed in 1900. Fool me once...

Annette said...

I have similiar feelings about New Orleans. I mean, it may be lovely and all, but it's BELOW SEA LEVEL, folks! I just don't think I'd be moving back there after Katrina. And I would be on the first bus to Denver at the mere mention of a hurricane heading for the Gulf!