24 December 2013

Post-storm ruminations

Our power was restored at some point before midnight last night - a total of over 50 hours without mains electricity. We coped fairly well, although there are some things we might have done differently if we'd realised we were going to be without power for quite that long.

We've got a bank of batteries hooked up to the solar panels, so power cuts aren't usually a big deal for us. When the power goes down, there's a short pause, then system switches automatically over to the batteries and our lights come back on. On Saturday and Sunday we still had running water, thanks to that. We turned the geothermal heating off, but initially we still had the hot water heater running, which (in hindsight) we should probably have turned off sooner.

By Sunday evening we were running low on the backup power and there had been no sunshine to top up the batteries (there wasn't any on Monday, either - and a light dusting of snow came down and covered the panels, which wasn't going to help). We ran out of power completely at midnight on Sunday. The woodstoves did a good job of keeping the house warm, but I was worried about the water/sanitation side of things, as we need power to run the water pump. The usual advice is to fill the bath with water before the power goes out, but we hadn't done that and I wished we had - it would have been useful to have that water for flushing toilets. We drained the water that was left in the system into jugs and had plenty for drinking.

The fridge and freezers were without power for 24 hours and when I checked the fridge temperature after the power came back on it was only two degrees above the 'safe' zone on the fridge thermometer. We didn't open the freezers at all, so they should be fine after that period.

I was able to make hot food and drinks with the kitchen woodstove - we had omelettes, soup, quesadillas and a risotto during the outage. I'm really looking forward to being able to use my electric oven again today, though!

During Monday there were signs that people were working to get the power back on - at seven different times the fridge and freezer briefly came to life, raising our hopes, before subsiding back into silence. You realise how dependent you are on electricity when something like this happens. I spent my time reading to entertain myself, but the children both struggled without access to electronic devices (and through them, their social networks) - and we played a lot of card games. When the power came back on, Child#2 promised me that he'd never complain of boredom again.

The living room looked really cosy by candlelight, but I would have enjoyed it more if there hadn't been that nagging worry about when power would be restored and how we would cope for another day without it.

I'm very grateful to the power crews who have been working so hard to get everyone reconnected: I have a feeling that Christmas 2013 will be one to remember!


Lisa from Iroquois said...

I'm glad you're back on the grid and hopefully you'll stay that way for the rest of the winter. Merry Christmas to you and your family and I look forward to continuing to read your blog in the new year.

Amanda said...

Thanks, Lisa - and to you!

Soilman said...

Bloody 'ell... that's serious weather! Puts things in perspective a bit when I'm moaning about typical UK rain. Thanks for the reminder.