Friday, September 2, 2011


Yes, for anyone that was wondering, I am still alive. I survived the latest epic disaster to strike the homeland.

Today in my neighborhood we finally had our electric power restored, six long days after saying goodbye to Hurricane Irene. Firecrackers were set off and car horns also blared to usher in this seemingly miraculous event. 

I found myself yelling a genuine Wolfman Jack howl, out my front window onto the street, an eerie sound I haven't uttered in a long time.

This past week was rare for us Easterners, both a 5.9 earthquake and a Hurricane, enough to rattle the strongest old timers a bit. Suffice it to say I never felt the earthquake, but "Irene was a bitch" as someone very close to me described her.
Actually the predictions of a hyped end of the world perfect storm scenario did not materialize. Not that it was a "walk in the park" either, and certainly to our Southern folks used to real mean Hurricanes, and West Coast residents they would call these a rain storm with some wind, and a mere vibration to stir a coffee cup.

Make no mistake about it, this Hurricane was over 1,000 miles big, so large, it would have covered all of Europe, and it was deadly.The toll from Hurricane Irene has been staggering, with damage so far topping $7 billion, at least 45 people dead, the worst flooding in 100 years hitting some States, and a million people still mopping up flood waters or waiting for power.

Residing in or near large urban metro areas is not an easy thing to put up with, never has been, and it is routinely stressful on those settlers who plant their roots in these parts. Life is filled with all types of dangers lurking from trying to survive the unique happenings of the "human" type, and the surprises of mother nature year round, among many other strange things.  

On Saturday night, I gathered my most valuable belongings, candles, flashlight, food, water, assorted other survival items, and hunkered down in a safe room in between floors, hedging my bets whether my biggest threat was trees falling on my house, or flooding filling my lungs. This was not as storm to take lightly and there was enough truth to its ferocity to warrant respect for its catastrophic potential.

Electric power was quickly lost and the rest is history as poorly supervised, vastly under staffed, local electric utility crews tried to locate the source of each outage.

In the past six months these crews have been reduced by several thousand workers who have been fired due to the "economic" situation, with an additional announcement by the Company upper management last week that several thousand more workers were to be fired AFTER the hurricane restoration efforts were completed, but true to the sub human style of what passes for leadership these days, did not specifically name those workers who were now expected to go fix the damage.

Just what one would expect from one of the most profitable electric Utility Company's, whose rates are among the highest in our Country. A great morale booster, motivational, leadership skills provided by typical incompetent upper management, all suited up in their pinstripes, waxing on about how hard "they" were working.

Their method for finding the specific power outage was witnessed by me, and you just can't make this stuff up. 

Sure the fancy tech maps show the electric grids that are without power, but do not have the ability to localize the problem any further.

That's where the amazing rocket science comes into the modern technological protocol. Dispatch two man crews, one poor shlep from the Utility Company walking every street in my community, and one Supervisor riding in a spanking new SUV along side of him, equipped with a 2 way mobile radio, and wherever the debris of trees are piled in the street, the walker guy goes into the backyard in front of that residence, to see if there is an electrical wire down. 

I saw it with my own eyes, talked to both workers, and this is their protocol, seriously, honestly. So six days without electric power is not so bad when one thinks of how many streets this two man team assigned to my area covered.

Some of my personal observations about the past few days are interesting to me as an observer of people and the way we interact or don't:

The point at which for two days there was no land line telephone service and no cell phone service as the telephony monopoly inferior infrastructure ceased functioning. If you needed help in an emergency, tough shit. Remember the old days before fiber optic cable when regular copper cable kept your land line phone working without any electricity required. 

The local store that gladly sold me a manual, tiny can opener for $14, and had plenty of more items for 'sale".

The privileged few locals who had gas operated generators so they could watch television, surf the Internet, turn a light on, watch their food spoil in the freezer just like the rest of us, and generally make a ton of noise that didn't stop until they ran out of gasoline. Oh yeah, they could still multi-task while reading in the bathroom unlike the rest of us who were in the dark.

The quest for knowledge in learning that the State Insurance Department, ever vigilant, had previously passed a statewide law that when a tree (in this case my tree) fell on the neighbors house, it was his Insurance company (not mine), which had to pay for the damages to his house caused by my tree. 

Naturally, since it was my tree, the Insurance Company's have that covered also to protect their not having to pay out any damages. This is the  tree I own but it did not damage my house, well then I had to personally pay for the full cost of having it chain sawed up and removed. Tough shit Jerry, just keep paying those increasing insurance premiums for the "not covered" clauses.

Of course, my local chain saw friend Pro was here to help me with a special price "just for neighbors like me", so it would be only $500 not the usual $800 to remove the tree.

Even the food in the supermarket that I had to buy to replace all my rotted stuff, had suddenly significantly increased in price in a matter of days, due to the laws of " being a greedy pig". 

The guy in the house behind me came to compare how much water we each had in our basements, proudly proclaiming that he had procured a gas pump that was quickly emptying his flooded house. But he couldn't lend me his pump as he needed it "just in case".

The not surprising result of this unscientific anecdotal study of mine once again verifies that most people will do anything to rip off others in a time of need, that its generally everyone for themselves in a time of crisis, and that human nature is like any other species of animal, it protects itself first from the rest of the herd.


Just to rub more shit in our face, guess what came in the postal mail today, right on time. Yep, the hugely expensive inflated electric bill from the Utility Company. 

Mine was a mere $300 for one month, hey pin stripe suits cost a lot these days for the management, some one has to pay for it so they look neat while self congratulating themselves along with their local politician pals, for a "job well done, Brownie".