Recently, a “winter hurricane” came through Hampton Roads, Virginia. We rarely get snow, much less with high winds and sustained frigid temperatures. I immediately began the hurricane drill despite my husband’s skepticism. “We aren’t going to lose power.” He finally agreed to pickup some firewood and get gas for the generator “even though we won’t need it”. We woke Thursday at 4:00 AM to find the power out. The windows were so frozen we couldn’t see how deep the snow was. When I tried to open the front door, it was blocked by a fallen branch. At daylight, we went into action getting the generator going, brewing a pot of coffee, and starting a fire.
Personally, I have to have the TV on all the time–a latchkey kid? Many Verizon FiOS customers don’t realize they can use all of their services with a generator. Our central FiOS box is mounted on the wall in the garage. We unplug it from the wall and plug into the generator. We run the extension cords into the house and plug in all of the components (the router, the phone, the TV, and the DVR box). With our generator, we’re able to run all of these items at the same time:
- Space heater
- Coffee pot
- Plug in griddle
- Internet router
- 2 Lamps
- Charge devices (laptop, phone, iPad, etc.)
Our generator experience goes back to 2003. In September, we watched Hurricane Isabel strengthen into a Category 5 storm. On September 18th it hit Hampton Roads, Virginia, after weakening to a Category 2. The ground was already saturated from earlier storms, and we lost power almost immediately from so many downed trees. After the storm passed, we heard it could take weeks to restore power to our area. At 7 AM, my sister called from Home Depot and said they had one generator left, did we want it? YES! (My husband was attempting to make coffee through a paper towel on the grill.)
We carefully drove to my sister’s house (all stoplights were out) to pick up this precious new device–a Generac Wheelhouse 5500 for $750 (it’s now 14 years old and still works great due to regular maintenance). Our only challenge was obtaining gas to last for 5 days, but we did it (even siphoning it from the car at one point).
One positive that comes out of power outages is that you get to know your neighbors (self-confessed introvert). Everyone shares information, supplies, and helps out with the cleanup work. During that week, the neighborhood was a cacophony of generators and chainsaws. My husband had a surf partner in the back of our neighborhood, and I finally met him and his wife when they came in the pitch dark to borrow the chainsaw. We’ve been best friends ever since.
Some of our friends and family now have the whole house generators that utilizes a natural gas line. While this is nice to have, it’s quite an investment and overkill for our needs. For our small ranch house, a whole house system would run about $10,000.
No matter what time of year you suffer a power outage – you’ll either suffer from the lack or air conditioning or heat. Neither are pleasant.