Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ice storms, dead trees, and Lady Luck

Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don't. This has been my lucky couple of weeks:

Two weeks ago, at 2 AM, the skies were clear, and there was no wind. A dead tree at the side of our yard decided to fall over. In the process it fell on the electric power lines to the house, breaking one of them. Bad, right? No, good. It woke me up, and as our electricity was failing, and several appliances were in the process of burning themselves out, I was awake and responding. I managed to figure it out that the whole house needed to be shut down, which I did. In the dark now, we got out the flashlights, and found the cause of all the buzzing, popping, and sizzling we had just gone through. Bad, right? Nope, good. The cops showed up in about 15 minutes, the fire marshal within a half hour, and there was nothing for them to worry about. I'd gotten the power shut down in time, and no fires. The electric maintenance truck showed up about 4 or half past, and was willing to fix the damage and get us operating. He didn't have to - the damage was on the house side, and he could have forced me to hire an electrician. Whew.

The next day we realized that every surge suppressor in the house was basically toast. Most were still operating, but they stank from having started to burn up. Only one actually burnt out and popped the circuit breaker. We only lost a microwave, a modem, the furnace controls, and two little radio-alarm clocks. Within a day we were back at 90% operation, by the weekend were back to 99%.

That was the practice run. Last Thursday we had an ice storm you would have heard about. We only got our power back on yesterday. Without power, we had no heat and no water. We were heating the house with propane camp stoves, and we had no place to cook for the first couple of days. Light was kerosens lamps and flashlights. Water was in 5 gallon buckets we filled at our neighbor's house (they had a generator running, so their well pump was working).

Bad, right? Nope, good. For hours the freezing rain was coming down, with major branches breaking and coming down - BOOM! One HUGE branch that we had planned on trimming because it hung directly over the kitchen came down. But it only grazed the roof and deflected, no damage, except to the grill outside. The grill lost the lid handle, which took a direct hit from the branch. Oh, shucks. Another branch from the same tree came down and landed on the kitchen steps - denting the stair rail, and coming to rest against the house siding. No damage. Another one hit the brackets I had put outside the living room window for the A/C unit this past summer, knocking a bracket off the wall, and pulling a foot-long piece of siding with it. No serious damage. Half a tree came down behind our lawnmower shed, and missed it by inches. No damage. Another half of a tree, about seventy feet tall, came down on the deck that used to be part of the above ground pool that the previous owner's had. I had already taken out the pool. The deck was partly crushed, but it is of little consequence. The propane heaters kept the house, and us, warm. No frozen pipes. The fish tank lived thru the ordeal, as we maintained sufficient temp in the tank to keep the fish alive and well.

No damage. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don't.

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