Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Ice Ice Baby

So, the big ice storm of 2013 has come and gone.  And we survived.  I'm actually quite pleased with how prepared we were.  The power went out at 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning.  Baby alarm alerted us to the outage.  I checked the hydro one web page and they had estimated repair time of 6:30 a.m.  Pssh, no sweat.

We bundled Paige into our room and went back to sleep.  6:30 a.m. and we were up.  Still no power.  What the heck?  Not much to do at home so we went down to Stratford to grab some breakfast.  The waitress told us half of Stratford had no power.  Kept checking hydro one and still no update.  Might as well go home and try out that generator.

The generator was a house warming gift from Jen's parents.  Never has a house warming gift been so literal.  This thing saved our bacon.  I will never give my in-laws grief about tech support again.  I will even start remembering their passwords for them.

We had the generator but we had never actually hooked it up to the house.  It was on my list of things to do over the holidays.  That task got an upgraded priority.  I had the male-to-male extension cord already wired up (otherwise known as the Extension Cord Of Death) and I'd checked out the circuits so I knew that I should be able to run the generator out in the shop and get the furnace running while using an extension cord to run the fridge off a live receptacle.

Theoretically it all made sense.  But I was still a little nervous throwing the switch.  I got the generator going, plugged it into the wall, went back inside, threw the breaker for the shop and the furnace.  And nothing.  Crap.  Went upstairs to explain to Jen that we might have to investigate a motel room in another city when the furnace sprang to life!

I was so pleased.  With the furnace pumping out heat, we got the fridge plugged in and we then had the basics nailed down.  With jerry cans full of gas we could ride this thing out as long as it took.  And it took a while.

We kept checking hydro one and were a little worried when they pushed the service time out to 11 p.m. Monday night.  We had candles and flashlights and a lantern.  I even suspended fridge electricity to get a coffee made.  Bring on the night.

It wasn't a pleasant night.  Not for lack of warmth.  Paige was deeply unsettled by the new sleeping arrangements.  Not happy at all.  But we got through it.  I cooked breakfast on the barbecue, made a coffee, and we carried on for another day.

As we were making dinner, another update from Hydro One put a return to service at 8 p.m. Christmas Eve!  That was crushing.  We had Jen's family coming up for Christmas dinner and what if they pushed it out even further?  We were still fine, the generator was plugging away, but this was seriously putting a damper on the Christmas spirit.

We rolled the dice that the generator could handle the additional load of a space heater in Paige's nursery and Jen went to put Paige down in her own room.  When Jen came downstairs she said the street lights were back on!

It was a great feeling to shut off the generator and flip all the breakers back on.  There was exquisite joy in each light I turned on.  We hadn't even been without power for two full days but it seemed like so much longer.  And there are still people without power out there.

I thought some bad thoughts about Hydro One and their workers while sitting in the dark but that turned to unlimited gratefulness for all their hard work in getting us back on the grid.  I can't imagine the challenges and pressures those crews face in doing what they do.  Our Christmas is back on track and it's a huge relief but we know that's not true for those crews and the families they are working to restore power to.  Hoping everybody finds a warm spot to share with loved ones this Christmas.

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