“How a Power Outage in the Time of a Pandemic Unexpectedly Restored Me.

Man angry and storm weather map

We’re hot as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore!

If you live outside the Tri-State area, chances are you have no idea about the destruction that Tropical Storm Isaias brought to millions.

One week after Isaias carved a path of destruction throughout New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut downing trees and power lines leaving more than 2 million residents and business in the dark, massive power outages still persist. Now in the middle of a heatwave, over 77,000 sweltering residents and businesses continue to remain without electricity.

I consider myself one of the lucky New Yorkers, eventually getting my power back after 5 long days.

When Tropical Storm Isaias hit the Tri-State on Monday, August 3, it wiped out not only my electrical power but the safety nets I had put in place to survive the coronavirus.

Sheltering in Place

power outage Tropical Storm Isaias

Power outage Tropical Storm Isaias, Long Island

Living with a power outage during the time of a pandemic was like sheltering in place on steroids. For over five days my home on Long Island was without WiFi, phone, and internet connections, cutting me off from both the news and contact with friends the very lifelines that kept me afloat during the isolation of COVID. But the blackout would surprisingly provide an unexpected benefit.

Sheltering in place with a husband in cognitive decline had been difficult and lonely. The need to connect virtually during the coronavirus became stronger than ever allowing me to be social while social distancing, relying heavily on my online community of social media friends. These daily communications helped sustain my mental health. There was no longer a distinction between IRL friends and digital ones. Online pals were my real life.

tree fallen during storm

COVID restrictions had opened up travel, but with our roads blocked by fallen utility poles, toppled oaks, and debris we remained homebound.

Then Isaias hit with a vengeance. I was cut off, feeling uprooted from my community. Just as with COVID, Mother Nature could mock my best intentions.

 

vintage airconditioning ad

Now the whirring sound of generators competed with the roar of leaf blowers as the sounds of summer in the suburbs. But not in my house. Without a generator, my husband and I were toughing out the power outage created by that whirlwind tropical storm.

With my windows wide open to let in a breeze, that amped up, motorized noise from neighboring houses filled my dark overheated home, a constant reminder that said air conditioners are cooling their owner’s homes as they Netflix and chill. Neighbor’s fridges were up and humming as mine had long stopped functioning for nearly a week. Without power, my Subzero sat in a pool of water leaking from food melting. All the sustenance I had carefully squirreled away these past several months during the pandemic now sat rotting.

Preparedness

Kitchen refrigerator

Like a boy scout, I had been taught to always be prepared.

Growing up in the shadows of the cold war, the word “preparedness” was bandied about to calm our nuclear jitters. With a father who was Civil Defense Director for Western Nassau County that notion was instilled in me from an early age. My childhood home though lacking a fall out shelter, was optimistically well stocked with canned and frozen foods in anticipation of a long nuclear winter that might lie ahead.

Decades later those lessons would serve me well when the pandemic struck.

I went into action. Supermarket shelves were increasingly bare and the depleted stock of food filled me with a dread of what was to come. Preparedness kicked in. Beginning in March, I slowly and methodically stockpiled paper and packaged goods filling my pantry shelves much as my mother had done. More importantly, I filled both my refrigerators with food to see me through the inevitable second wave of the pandemic.

Then Isais hit wiping out my power as well as my plan. The best-laid plans for the year’s first devastating crisis have now been destroyed by the second one.

The drip, drip, drip of the fridge leaking was like the slow torturous drip of 2020.

And that is where the unexpected upside of this power outage revealed itself. It offered a blackout of the news, a break from the stress of toxic Trump stories I was ingesting daily. In its absence, I realized the emotional storm that was roiling inside me was taking its toll.  With no sense of when the power would be restored, time stood still allowing me to recharge myself mentally.

I found I needed to repair myself from that damage much as the power did.

Postscript.

I was totally blind sighted by the swiftness and ferocity of this storm and apparently so were the power companies. As of Tuesday morning, the PSEG  ( Long Islands power company) reported more than 30,000 customers still without power.

“ConEd and PSEG did a lousy job,” Governor Cuomo said. “They were not prepared and they didn’t anticipate what it would take to get back online quickly…(Residents) are fed up and they’re right and I’m with them.”

 

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

3 comments

  1. Pierre Lagacé

    I am glad you got power back.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s an old saying: “When it rains, It pours” , which I think was stolen by a salt manufacturer… I admire your preparedness, but I always think along the lines of canned goods, since they don’t require refrigeration. I do hope you are safe and on the road to recovery. This covid thing can’t last forever, and will eventually subside. I don’t know if life as we knew it will ever be normal again, but I look forward to the day when I can hug my friends… In the interim, I persevere. Thank you for all you do , Sally!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s the slogan of Mortons Salt, a fine product to have on hand in case of an emergency. I do indeed have a great many canned goods, as well as packaged foods, enough to rival a grocery store. My mother trained me well. She had in fact stored so many paper goods that ten years after she has passed away, I am still using aluminum foil she collected at her home. I started stocking up on meat and frozen items at the beginning of the pandemic when shelves were bare, meat cases empty and supermarket visits were so limited. I didn’t take into account power outages. I feel a bit luckier than some ( thousands) who still remain without power. I know at some point the pandemic must fade and we will enter into a new normal which I’m hoping includes lots of hugging. Thanks for your support and concern.

    Liked by 1 person

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