Power

At 8PM Friday night, our power went out.

We had 70 MPH straight-line winds and horizontal rain.  Trees came down all over the neighborhood.  Two houses down, 3 tree played dominoes, creaming the house, the fence, and two cars.

How did we do?

The skeleton I keep hanging in my tree lost its right shin-bone and we lost power.  So did 610,000 other people in the area.

It’s interesting to watch what happens when the power goes out.

I’m assuming every generator in the area sold out.   I don’t know, because I already had one.   I do know that most of the gas stations near me ran out of gas on Saturday.   Most places were out of ice, too.  Batteries were hard to scrounge.

The restaurants that either didn’t lose power or had backup generators were raking in money all weekend.  Sunday morning, McDonald’s had a line of cars backed up an entire block.

Our power came back on Monday night.  74 hours of living in the dark ages.  We had to read books on paper and cook all of our food on the grill.

We did okay.  A few years ago, when the power went out for a day, I bought a generator.  Saturday morning, I finally had a reason to take it out of the box.

The generator cost me $450.   Over the weekend, we put about $40 worth of gas into it.  That kept our refrigerator and freezer running, saving at least $5-600 worth of food.   Two neighbors filled up our available freezer space, so that’s another $200 worth of food that didn’t die.

That’s a $500 investment to save nearly $800 worth of food.

Pure win.

The generator also allowed us to keep a couple of fans running, which is great when the power goes out when it’s 90 degrees outside.  We also fired up the TV and DVD player at night to help the kids settle down for bed.  This is one time I was glad to have an older TV, because cheap generators don’t push out a clean electricity that you can safely use to run nice electronics.

We have a couple of backup batteries for our cell phones, so we got to stay in touch with the world.   We borrowed an outlet at our rental property to charge the batteries when they died.

We had about 5 gallons of gas on hand, which was convenient, but not enough.  I’m going to grow that.  A little fuel stabilizer and a couple of 5 gallon gas cans and we can be set for the next time gas runs out.

We cooked everything on the propane grill.  I keep two spare propane tanks on hand, but we didn’t use them.   Sunday night, my wife made spaghetti on the grill.  The hard part was keeping the noodle from falling through.   Nah, we threw the cast iron on the grill and cooked away.   Had pancakes and bacon made the same way on Sunday.

We had to buy more lanterns.  We had two nice big ones, but at one point, we had 9 people in our house.   That’s a lot of games, books, and bathroom breaks to coordinate with only two main lights.  This weekend did teach our daughters that the emergency flashlights are not toys.  Two of them had dead batteries that needed to be replaced.

Going out to dinner Monday evening was a treat.   We sat in a building with air-conditioning!

All said, we spent about $250 that we wouldn’t have if the power would have stayed on.   That’s $40 for gas, $80 for dinner(you try feeding a family of 5 for less than that at a restaurant that doesn’t have a drive-through) and $130 on new lanterns.  The lantern bill caught me by surprise, by a lot, but now we are set for next time.

How would you do without power for three days?

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  • 8 comments

    Comments

    1. We lost power for 8 days in 2009 thanks to Hurricane Ike. We didn’t have a generator or propane grill back then, but we also didn’t have a ton of freezer space then either. So we lost $100-ish of food. We used our Prius for air conditioning when we really needed it. A cool front came through, which was a blessing and a curse. We only had electric in our old neighborhood, so the cool front meant super cold showers but I could sleep without sweltering to death.

      My employer required me to go to work since they did have a generator, so I worked that week and used their plugs to recharge my phone and ate hot food from their cafeteria. My husband enjoyed the 2 weeks off from teaching and ate a lot of peanut butter and jam sandwiches. We also ate about 2 dozen sausage kolaches that week since our favorite donut shop had a backup generator too.

      We only had to fill up the Prius with gas once (like 6 days into it), bought two loaves of sandwich bread, and bought a cool flashlight that takes nearly any kind of battery to operate ($22). Overall, we didn’t spend much extra that week, but we wouldn’t get that lucky again.

      We now have about $400-$500 of spoilable food on hand at any given time ($250-ish of beef cuts thanks to my most recent purchase from a frozen meat truck and what we have frozen from specials). We have a backup generator port built into our new house, but haven’t bought the generator yet. But we do have a propane grill and a backup tank of propane. So if we lost power for more than 12 hours any time soon, we’d be hosting the largest steak cookout on the block.

    2. PS Your new look is very relaxing, lol. 🙂

    3. I’m curious why you keep a skeleton hanging from a tree.

      Nice one on the spaghetti noodles. That cracked me up.

      • I go overboard on Halloween. I’ve been on the news and have a shed dedicated to storing decorations. Two years ago, it snowed hard on November 1st. I got everything else put away, but didn’t want to climb the ladder in the snow. Come spring, I just kept putting it off.

        Now, it’s kind of how I give directions to my house. “Turn here, then look for the skeleton.”

    4. I went through that during the Northridge earthquake. The real difficulty is no water. I managed to live easily without power, but water is more of a necessity.

    5. We are so dependent on electricity. Years ago we had an ice storm that took out the power lines all over town, in a very cold March. My kids were toddlers and we were stuck at home with no heat, no light. We had an electric stove too, so no way to cook. Now we have a wood burning stove with lots of wood cut, gas stove, kerosene lanterns and propane heating and cooking equipment (camping stuff). Although we still haven’t sprung for a generator, we are better equipped now to deal with outages.

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