SCHLOTTMAN: 123 Hours Without Power
Hurricane Irene left the region relatively unscathed, save for downed trees and power outages. Mark Schlottman was without power for five days.
It was Sunday afternoon, the sun was shining and I had just finished watching the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix. It was a far cry from what Baltimore, Maryland and the entire mid-Atlantic coast was going through this time last week.
Since I missed the earthquake (I was actually on I-95 near White Marsh when the it struck), I felt I could chime in on Hurricane Irene. After all, I felt a little left out having not experienced the east coast quake.
One thing about hurricanes and blizzards: they have been much easier to predict and prepare for in comparison to an earthquake. We all knew about Irene days in advance of its journey over Puerto Rico and the Bahamas before heading straight for the barrier islands of North Carolina. We all became familiar, once again, with what number the Weather Channel is on our TV.
We watched Bob Turk and Tony Pann show us the track of the storm as it neared Maryland. For those hard-core weather junkies, Weather Channel veteran Jim Cantore was again welcomed into our homes (although I still can’t get used to Jim’s shaved head).
As the rain came down on Saturday and I still had electricity, I considered myself lucky for having dodged the power-outage bullet. My luck ran out at 11:45 a.m. on Sunday, as the electricity went out—and remained out for the next 123 hours.
Having grown up with a sump pump that many times would quit during storms, I was all too familiar with the fear of heavy rain, no electricity and a quickly filling sump. I knew my neighbors had these necessary, electric-reliant pumps in their basements, and with no power, the threat of a flooded cellar was very real. Out came the generators—both mine and borrowed—and the disaster was averted.
The robo-calls placed by Harford County and the City of Aberdeen were a quick and efficient way to keep all of us informed during the storm. One disadvantage I see with this technology has to do with the fact that so many of us now rely on VOIP Internet phone systems. These systems require electricity; when the power goes out, so do our telephones.
(Editor's Note: To add your mobile number, email or landline to the Connect-CTY system, go here.)
Not having electricity for approximately five days proved to be an inconvenience for me. But I did have a generator that provided power to most of the house, and with no sump pump to worry about, I considered myself fortunate. I also had the good fortune of friends, both old and new, who pitched in to help my neighbors and me. I didn’t experience any structural damage to my home either, as many people did. All in all, I came out of Hurricane Irene pretty much unscathed. I empathize with those who did have trees fall on their homes, and of course, the tragedy of lives lost due to the storm.
My hat's off to the utility workers who were out during and after the storm, doing their best to get the power back on for people. I don’t think we realize that these guys are out helping us while their own homes could very well be without power, damaged and/or flooded.
I was taken aback by the question one of the BGE contractors posed to me as I walked up to his truck to inquire when I might get my electricity back. He looked at me and before I had a chance to say anything, asked, “Are you going to yell at me, too?” I looked at him in some odd way and answered, "Why would I yell at you? You’re going to get my electricity back online." I guess he had been recently verbally abused, which I found hard to comprehend. He and his partner did get my power back on Friday afternoon after telling me that they weren’t going to leave until we got electricity back on our street.
(As an aside, my power outage was probably due more to old infrastructure than to Irene—a hole in an underground line had caused the outage.)
I’ve often said that we’re lucky to be living here in Maryland. We really don’t have the weather extremes common in other parts of the country.
The fires raging in Texas and the mudslides of California are but two weather conditions that we never even think about. And of course the devastating hurricanes named Andrew, Charley, Bob, Hugo and Katrina made Irene look like a summer shower, but property was damaged, lives disrupted and lives lost all due to Irene.
Now the sun is back out and the weather was perfect for Baltimore’s first Grand Prix race. Baltimore looked great, even post-Irene, and I was proud that Charm City took the chance on an international Indy Car race.
In these parts, Hurricane Irene won’t soon be forgotten. She’ll be talked about as we old-timers talk about Agnes, Floyd and Isabel.