Columns and stories of life from the Fredericksburg area.
During outage, water is missed even more than power
By Cathy Dyson
The Free Lance-Star
THIS WEEK, most conversations focused not on where you were when the lights went out, but how long your power was off. For us, it was two days, four hours and 35 minutes.
I don’t remember ever being without electricity that long, at least as an adult.
If your home has a well, as ours does, no electricity means no water. I’ve come to think that being without water is even worse than not having air conditioning or a working refrigerator.
You can’t turn on the tap to splash a little cold water on your face or wash your hands. Even worse, you can’t flush toilets—and trust me, that stinks on several levels.
Another realization was that if a group wanted to bring America to its knees, the fastest way to do so would be to take out electricity. We’d be crippled in a hurry, and not just because we’ve gotten used to being comfortable.
After this storm, people on my road not only lost the ability to turn on lights, fans and TVs, but also the use of cellphones.
I could receive texts, but couldn’t send them. I heard the ding on my phone when I had a voicemail, but couldn’t access the message or see who had called.
When I tried to call someone, the phone flashed: “Emergency calls only.”
I had to drive about 15 minutes to get enough cell-phone signal to be able to check on my family.
And in this day of instant access, the disconnect was scary.
But of course, it goes without saying that our momentary discomfort was nothing compared to those in our region—and across America—who have watched flames and floods consume, in a matter of moments, what it took a lifetime to build.
It reminded my mother of a comment Washington weatherman Louie Allen made decades ago. Allen died in 1976 after being a TV weatherman for 26 years, so his comment goes back a while.
He said that weather wouldn’t just be part of the nightly news in years to come.
He said it would be the news.
They laughed at the suggestion that weather could ever be anything more than a report of highs, lows and the chance of showers.
But think about what’s dominated the news: heat waves and wildfires, flash floods and droughts, tornadoes and a “derecho”—whoever heard of that term before last week?
When it comes to weather as news, I’ll bet no one is laughing now.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425