The benefits of life without power

The benefits of life without power

You may be asking yourself, “Is she kidding?”  But I’m serious.  For the record to those of you readers not living in West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Maryland or DC, here’s what happened Friday night, June 29, 2012:  Winds of up to 60 mph hit us between 7 and 9 pm and caused trees to tumult to the ground, taking power lines with them.  The result?  Tremendous damage, and in just WV, 53 of 55 counties have been affected.  Many folks today are still without power and running water, not to mention damage to their cars and homes.

My neighborhood has been lucky.  We’re close to The Greenbrier where – as I write – Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Phil Michelson, et al, are enjoying the hospitality of the hotel and participating in the third annual Greenbrier Classic. So it was a given that Jim Justice, CEO and owner of the hotel, would make sure that The Greenbrier (and, therefore, it’s neighbors) would have electricity back up as soon as possible. (Thanks, Mr. Justice).   But, we did have more than 28 hours without power.  (I know, I know, many of you had much longer and I don’t mean to rub it in.)

You would have thought – being a  girl scout and all – and surviving a hurricane when I lived in Vero Beach, Florida, in 1999, that  I would be prepared for life without power.  But, no. I wasn’t prepared at all.  Car on empty. No non-perishable food.  No bread.  No candles. Only some water, a flashlight and a crossword puzzle book.  Despite the heat and darkness, many good things happened.  Here are some things you can do the next time you find yourself without power:

  • Use your kids’ bug catcher to find some interesting bugs and then watch them closely
  • Read a book you “never had time to read”
  • No computer means no facebook, so call your friends and have a personal conversation with them
  • Play board games with your kids
  • Since there is no gas, take a walk around your neighborhood and meet people you don’t know
  • Build a castle out of legos
  • Make silly shadow figures on the wall holding your flashlight behind your hand
  • Fill up the plastic wading pool and put your kids and dog in together
  • Cook a pizza on the grill (and heat water for coffee, too)
  • When you run out of pullups and the stores are closed, potty train your 2 year old
  • Get everybody together in the same bed, get some books, and read stories while the kids hold the flashlight.

But, seriously, what about those who needed medications, needed to run their oxygen machines, had no one to look out for them? I did think about those folks and wonder how they survived.  Well, CVS stayed open – they had a generator – and a pharmacist was on duty. The local IGA store was open and even though they had no power, they gave everyone who came in a piece of paper to write down the items they needed.  At checkout, a clerk added up the total (with a calculator, can you imagine?), figured the tax, and you could write her a check (since the ATMs didn’t work either).  Dollar Store did the same. (Great for public relations.)

RIPCO was selling ice for $2 a bag.  I later heard that Ronceverte Exxon was buying up all the ice from RIPCO and then turning around and selling it for $7 a bag!! (Didn’t verify this.) Rhema Christian Center was giving ice away.  (Bad for public relations, Exxon.)  And the Lewisburg Fire Station had a cooling off station for those who could get there.

Many folks I talked to were upset that The Greenbrier got its power back before they did.  This is understandable.  Except the fact that the hotel had 1200 guests – mostly families and golf professionals – who are contributing to the economic future of the hotel and the state of West Virginia.  The WV Department of Tourism had invested over $1 million in this tournament, and because of the revenue that it brings into the state, it is only logical that power would be restored there first.  Maybe not right, but that’s the way things work.

Here’s what I learned:

  • keep flashlights, batteries, and candles (those with the batteries built in) on hand
  • keep gas in my car – don’t let it get near empty before I fill up
  • buy the 24-pack of water, even though it’s too heavy to carry
  • get a car charger for my cell phone
  • make sure I have a weeks’ supply of any medications that I might need
  • always have bread and peanut butter and jelly
  • make sure Cliffie has plenty of pullups.

Look at things this way.  There are benefits to being without power.  Look at the positive side.  As far as I know, no one lost their life in West Virginia.  Maryland was not so lucky.  So, count your blessings.  Turn lemons into lemonade.  And, remember to be prepared for the next time.  It will happen.  Maybe during a bad snowstorm.  Maybe during a hurricane.

This is my rant today.



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