Tree down!

Tree down!

Last weekend’s storm was very affecting. We lost power for over 36 hours! After work on Friday evening (March 2nd), the power was fluctuating wildly – going out and in. a few times. I turned off power to the delicate electronic appliances and then it was gone. Usually we have gotten back power in about an hour or two, but not this time. We killed seconds with the candles and the emergency lights on. I tried logging on to PECO only to know that I didn’t remember the user id or password! After some attempts, I was in and was able to report the outage. PECO said they are working on estimating the restoration date/time. Meanwhile it was all dark everywhere. More than 500 people in the neighborhood had lost power. We started the fireplace going and that helped a bit to ease the chill inside. After stretching for two+ hours, had candlelight dinner! Heating food on the gas stove was something we have been doing for sometime now, at least often. It is a healthier way to reheat food, especially if you are going to store it back in the fridge. We try to heat only what we might consume mostly. Once you microwave food to reheat, I have found the food loses its ‘charm’.  I snuck into bed early. Without the TV, life was different. Now I had a lot of time to think about anything I wanted to, but I didn’t really use the time. I was however itching for the power to be restored.

The March storm left a whitewash of snow on the landscape

The night went through, it was chilly despite the layers of coverings. The silence and the darkness gave it almost a resort-like atmosphere with not many-a-soul around closely. Thinking about it now, it feels total isolation. Thank God for the cell phones, we could still be connected. The morning was bright and sunny. The snow on the ground reflecting the halo that the planet can profess to possess, shining through the space telling other planets and bodies that there is still life good enough to cast a glow! The winds were howling though and in a sense not agreeing I think. The stripped-off branches wildly dancing, swaying 20 feet across like dope-high. I was checking the outage status and my wife tells me that there is a tree down. One of the neighbor’s pines, over 30 foot tall, had come crashing down on our yard. It had blocked off the driveway to another neighbor’s home at the back. Looking at it, I could see the main stem was about 12-15″. I remember, in the past during another storm, I had to remove small branches fallen down and dragging those to the back of our property was an effort. Now this huge tree was something I couldn’t dream of clearing up. Rama said we could talk to the neighbors and find out how to get this resolved; I was more like I want to get this cleared up myself.

I dug into my old phone and battery stash and found the Anker backup battery. It is incredible! After not having used it for over 18 months, it still retained juice. I was able to recharge our two phones with still plenty left going by its trademark blue light indicators. In the evening, we had to drive to a friend’s for a post-superbowl party and could see many neighborhoods without power. Along the drive, I charged up my laptop with the recently acquired car power charger. After a nice dinner and recollecting how Tom Brady didn’t shake hands after the historic loss, we drove back home to spend yet another chilly night. PECO had sent an update that we won’t be getting back power until late Monday evening. Before leaving the house, we had put the perishables in the garage refrigerator and kept its door open. The cold outside would be good enough to keep the food from going bad.

I booked a room at a nearby Courtyard for the next day thinking we will be running out of juice and hot water. I did a lot of research figuring out which power chainsaw to buy. Even made a trip to Home depot and bought an echo-352 but returned it as I thought I will just rent out the tool. I changed my mind thinking I can’t clear the tree in a day and it would turn out to be worthwhile to have the tool handy and went over to the nearby Ace hardware and bought a Stihl-170. In the meantime I watched a lot of videos on YouTube about how to use chain saws and saw many comparisons. I double-checked the MS170 was good enough to cut a stem about 12-15″ in diameter.

Sunday morning was no different until about 10:30 when plop! the alarm chirped and could hear beeps going all over the home. PECO had under-promised and over-delivered. Way to go, PECO! I called the hotel to cancel. It took a while to break off the no-TV inertia that day. The power outage certainly had me stressed out. Rama went to the neighbor’s home and was told that they will take care of the tree. In the end all was well, but what a journey!

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