Off the Grid

When the windstorm hit us Thursday night I was unprepared for an extended power outage. So were many other people who quickly bought up the local supply of generators. Also, there were quite a few people who camped out at HomeDepot and then purchased entire shipments of generators as they arrived only to turn around and resell them in the parking lot for a 60-100% premium. At the advice of my neighbor Ty, I got a small portable 1.8 KW 120 VAC unit early Sunday morning down in Carnation and managed to get it wired into the breaker box Sunday afternoon. This was sufficient to get the heat back on, a few lights, and the TV. However, the well pump runs on 220 VAC so we continued without water.
Last night I drove up towards Canada and grabbed a 5 KW 120/240 VAC generator from Lowes who got a small shipment in. Actually getting the unit purchased and in the car involved a small argument with a angry man who insisted that he was there before me. He wasn’t and I got the generator in the car while keeping a watchful eye.
Early this morning I ripped my rigged 120 VAC wiring out of the breaker box and rewired for 120/240 VAC and fired up the new unit. Cool! We now have water and I took a nice long hot shower and then came into work.
I still haven’t done any Christmas shopping… I was planning to do that this past weekend but getting the house up was more important. Especially so as Vicki’s mom was here from Boston (she left on Monday in the early AM). Maybe I’ll stop and get a tree on my way home tonight now that there’s a better than even chance of finding the moving boxes that may or may not contain the Christmas decorations.
Side note: Moving packers are really odd – it’s like they go out of their way to screw with your mind. I open boxes and find collections of completely unrelated items… For example, I found a box in the garage this morning that contained four formal dinner plates, some jewelery, a collection of spent tennis balls, several alen wrenches, and some paperback books, and a half-eaten dog biscuit that was lovingly wrapped up in packing paper. Ummm… !?
Here’s some notes from the Puget Sound Energy website posted this morning:

"Significant progress was made again yesterday and last night to restore customers’ power. We’ve now re-energized 158 of the 159 substations that lost power from the fierce windstorm. The only remaining substation without power, serving Duvall, should be re-energized today. And we’ve now repaired 70 of the 85 transmission lines that lost power from the storm."

From what I’m hearing via the Microsoft Duvall e-mail list this isn’t entirely accurate however. People are saying the power crews coming in for coffee in town are really tired and don’t think they’ll have the substation and surrounding neighborhoods online until after Christmas. Even then, there’s quite a few miles of smashed utility polls and downed lines to repair before they get out to Stossel Creek. But we have our generator and despite the fact that I normally curse HughNet satellite Internet service, it’s actually kind of cool to fire up the generator and be online despite the fact that you can’t even get out with dial-up at this point because all the lines are down.
Anyway, back to work for a few more hours. My late lunch is now over.

About Chris Russell
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