Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Making Plans

We are still dealing with the detritus strewn about the town and the aftermath of last Friday night's "derecho," another weather term that we only hear about AFTER one occurs.  The big derecho we got on Friday was a B.A. thunderstorm with such violent winds that it did more damage than any storm since Hurricane Isabel in 2003.  Hurricanes are forecast as much as a week in advance, giving power companies, Emergency Operations Centers, and Panera Bread outlets time enough to stock up on needed supplies and ship in personnel and foam cups.

I'm writing this on Monday night, and all over town, people have been without electric power since Friday night just before midnight, in thousands of cases. With the temperatures flirting with the 100° mark (and totally getting over on it a couple of times) and humidity that sets off the Gank-o-Meter, it's just been horrible. Malls are packed with people seeking a cool place to charge their cells and laptops, electric crews from as far away as Canada have been here helping to restring the power lines, and people are responding as they tend to do.  Many are taking this in stride, philosophizing that it could have been much worse.  Many others are taking to the airwaves of talk radio, complaining that the Baltimore Gas and Electric people are just not working hard enough to get things back online.  Yes, they've only been working nonstop since Saturday morning to repair an unprecedented amount of damage caused by giant trees toppling power lines.  Why, they ought to be able to fix everything in ten minutes, say the people who know all about the restoration of electricity across a very large city while not actually working for an electric supplier.

I heard two things on the radio that disturbed me (which is way below the normal amount of disturbing things I hear on radio). One of them was a talk show host urging his listeners to call the electric company again and again and again to let them know that service has not been put back in place on Cherry Blossom Lane.  This is not needed at all! Once they have your complaint, they do not need to log it in again, and the notion that if you just call 27 times, they will move you to the head of the line is not accurate.  As hard as it must be to hear for people who have lost the contents of their Kelvinators and been horribly hot and sticky for four days, there is a process by which the utility brings back the power, and no amount of extra calling serves a useful purpose. (I read that you can call BGE at 877.778.2222, enter your phone number and get a restoration update...but I can't say that for sure. Might want to check it out, if you are among the affected.

Emergency kit time!
I do have to say that I was shocked to hear people saying that they ran to Home Depot or Walgreens or Cheap Charlie's to get battery operated radios, flashlights and bottled water, only to return home with no battery operated radios, flashlights or bottled water.  I'll admit, I am overly prepared for emergencies, but I can't imagine being so underprepared as not to have a flashlight on hand.  Here is a link to a list that Baltimore County compiled. If you pack away the various items over the next 7 weeks, you'll be ready when hurricanes and blizzards knock power out again.  And you can come on over for a nice bottled water by flashlight!

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