Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dude, where's my electricty?

On June 29, the Atlantic coast was hit by a rare "derecho", a powerful wind storm that blows in from the Midwest and out to the Atlantic Ocean.  The storm and following heat wave without power has killed at least 23 people; some died when trees fell on their homes and cars, and heat stroke killed others.

In the U.S. we take electricity for granted and assume any outage will be brief. But five days after the deadly storms, there were still 1 million homes and businesses in a swath from Indiana to Virginia that remained without power. In Virginia alone emergency crews worked around the clock to deal with 60,000 outages.

Long duration outages like this occur after wind or snow storms bring down hundreds of thousands of trees on power lines.  With 3000 workers in Virgina and West Virginia combined, each person may have 40 lines to locate the break and fix.
"This was not a storm where tree limbs just fell on our wires," [Pepco spokesman Clay Anderson] says. "This was a storm where large mature trees were uprooted and lifted and just thrown into our poles — snapping our poles in half and wrapping our high-voltage wires around homes, businesses and cars."
You might say, bring in outside help, but that's exactly the problem with large regional storms. Your neighboring states are in just as bad shape and have no one to spare. So you have to ask for help from far away that will take a day or two to arrive.

Bottom Line:

Be prepared with a week of food and water and light. 72-hours is just not enough.

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