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Daily Archives: October 30, 2012

Surviving Sandy

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Lessons Learned for the next crazy weather we have in this area.

Only buy a UPS if it has a mute capability. The UPS devices we have, on the TVs and the computers and the phone and the chargers, all six of them, are not all the same. We have three different models. One model muted. Two won’t. We got to listen to chirp-chirp-chirp-chirp for about 9-10 hours until they finally died. They were the ones that lasted the longest though. They were APC XS 1000’s. We had the iPhone on one of them until 11 am today when it finally died. The internet and modem one died about 9 hours in, but since Comcast stopped working five hours before our power went out and just came back thirty minutes ago, so much for having internet on the iPad.

Modify the bleeping cellar area where the sump pump is installed so a battery backup unit will fit in it. We procrastinated after the derecho and didn’t do this modification and spent most of the night with two hour sleep intervals interspersed with bailing sessions. Five gallon buckets every two hours, more after the wind shifted and rain ran down the south wall of the house into the cellar drain at the bottom of our basement stairs.

Always go to Giant and buy ice as soon as you can after the storm ends. It will guarantee that the power comes back in a few hours. We lost power last night at 11 pm and got it back today at 3 pm. Six hours after going to Giant and getting four bags of ice. Now, I need to find a permanent place for it, or let it melt in the coolers.

The seven cubic foot freezer did well. It was full, and when the power came back and I went down to check the temperature inside, it had only risen from -2 to +10 degrees. We had packed it with everything we could including plastic containers of water frozen solid. It worked well.

The fridge and freezer did OK. Not stellar, but OK. Fridge got up to 46, but the only things in it were fruit, veggies, a couple of bottles of wine and iced tea. Oh, and weird condiments like tabasco and some flavored vinegars. All the perishables were in the two coolers with bags of ice on top and they stayed below 40 degrees.

The freezer in the kitchen unit got up to 26 degrees, from the setting of minus 6. Still haven’t opened it, and the meats are buried below four bags of ice. Before the power went out, I did lower the temp settings on the fridge and freezer by four degrees more than the normal settings, so that helped.

I left one small feeder out for the birds, which got quite a few visits before, during and immediately after the storm. I went out this morning and brought back the big feeder, and it got mobbed almost before I could get inside. We even had a rare visit to the vertical of a hairy woodpecker, bigger and with the long beak, but looking just like our regular downy woodpecker visitor. When I grabbed the camera to photograph the hairy woodpecker he flew far up into the cherry tree.

the feeder I left up, with our resident downy

The weather radio and the iPhone were invaluable once we lost power. I am so thankful we only lost power for sixteen hours this time. The derecho 24 hour power outage was our worst experience here. This was the second longest. For us, we still have to decide if a generator is needed as long as we don’t get multi-day outages.

NOAA weather radio and iPhone, our links to the world for 16 hours

We used none of the bottled water as we had filled pitchers of water and put them in our small beverage fridge with containers of ice. We went through them. Never used any of the water in the tubs, as we were sleeping downstairs where it was quieter and we weren’t far from the sump pump. The well pump actually held pressure for about six hours and made it through quite a few cycles before finally cutting out. Now, we get to clean up and dump buckets that were sitting in the powder room.

enough water when you have time to prepare

Now, it’s back to cleaning up, and eating all this weird stuff I made in case our power stayed out. I have lots of egg salad and potato salad and tuna to make salad. Fruit, yogurt, and granola. I do think we are extremely lucky and am grateful for the dedication and professional attitudes at both Comcast and at BGE. I never expected to get a live person on the line at 1115 pm from BGE, but we did. She asked if we knew if any of our neighbors were out, and explained why they couldn’t do estimates due to the uncertainty of when they could begin. Plus, the Howard County government twitter updates kept us informed all night.

Just glad we did OK and that we live in such an amazing place, even with this strange weather. Now, we get to go out and clean up leaves and pine needles and tree branches for a few days, or maybe a week. At least I get exercise. Here’s to living in Howard County and enjoying fall even when it is chaotic.