Entry 177: Fifteen Lessons Learned from Hurricane Sandy

1. Obviously, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey are not well-equipped to handle hurricanes.  But that doesn’t mean that people in Florida (and by “people,” I mean my mother) should tell you how nice the weather is there. I’d like to see how they handle a blizzard.

2. Speaking of which, who ever heard of hurricanes hitting cold weather climates? At least when people in the Caribbean get the roofs blown off their houses, they don’t have to huddle together for warmth.  And what’s up with all the snow a week after a hurricane? That’s just stupid! “Sorry, sir, I can’t plow the snow from your driveway because of the broken utility pole CL&P left there after last week’s tropical storm!”

3. Speaking of which (clever segues, huh?), it seems that Connecticut Light & Power brings people in from as far away as Tennessee and Oklahoma to repair the lines (we’ve spoken to some of them; they talk funny). CL&P must be spending a fortune importing all these technicians, putting them up in hotels and feeding them. It makes me wonder if it wouldn’t be more cost-efficient to actually hire some people. That way, when they weren’t repairing storm damage, they could drive around looking for trees that were already leaning on wires, just waiting for a gust of wind to come along.

4. Starbucks gets really crowded when no one has Internet service.

5. My family’s Verizon “Anytime” minutes cell phone plan is not equipped to handle a week or more without land lines. And it’s not all that helpful to get text messages from Verizon saying that we’ve used up 50% of our minutes for the month…and it’s only November 3rd. A good corporate citizen might consider offering some sort of amnesty to people affected by the storm. I mean, we ate up 30 of our minutes every time we called Cablevision.

6. Speaking of which, I understand that the cable company can’t do anything until the electric company puts the poles back up. But once they do, and a bunch of people on one block call and say “The power’s back, but you have to come with a bucket truck to thread cable back through the poles to our homes and there are wires and cables all over the place,” don’t send one guy in a van who gets out, looks around, and says “Jeez, there are wires and cables all over the place. We need to come back with a bucket truck.”  It’s nice that the Knicks are off to a good start, but I’d really rather that their parent company wasn’t a bunch of incompetent liars.  By which I don’t mean that they are bad liars; I mean that they are incompetent and they are liars.  They are, however, very creative: I never got the same story twice when I called.  This might have been acceptable when they were only providing non-essential entertainment.  But now that they’re “Triple Playing” us and providing most of our connections to the outside world, they really should be more responsible.  On the other hand, considering what they put us through to start our service in the first place, I don’t know why I expected anything different from them now.

7. TV networks should not broadcast new episodes of anything when I am unable to watch them because I don’t have cable. I’ll definitely catch up with missed episodes of The Walking Dead and Fringe. But I’m not sure I’m vested enough in new shows like Revolution and American Horror Story Asylum. I’m on the bubble about Last Resort, which I really liked.

8. It’s comforting to own an automatic, propane-powered generator when there’s a lengthy power outage. Except when there are so many power lines and utility poles down in your neighborhood that the propane truck can’t get through to refill your tanks, and then it’s even more stressful than not having a generator at all. After all, if you have no power, you don’t have to worry about conserving it. But if you do have power, you worry about how much longer the propane is going to last, and you go out and check it every morning, and now it’s down to 10%, and you’re really stressing out, and you don’t want to turn on the furnace, so the house gets just as cold as the homes of people without generators, and you begin wondering if you can maybe move some of the utility poles yourself so the propane truck can get through. Also, if you have no power at all, your wife doesn’t yell at you to turn off the lights.

9. Utility poles are really, really heavy. (I tried to roll one out of my driveway and couldn’t budge it.) It is therefore somewhat surprising that they can break like twigs.

10. Apparently, generators need oil after every few days of continuous running. To someone who has not even removed the dipstick from an automobile in decades, having to check the oil on a generator is problematic. Did you know, for instance, that you actually have to open the thing up?  Then you have to figure out which of the three orange doodads to pull out (hint: it’s the one that says “check oil”). “And if you have to put more oil in” says the person at the generator company, trying to talk us through it as if we’re a flight attendant trying to land a plane, “put it in the other hole.” That would be the one that says “Oil Fill.”

11. Evidently you have to shut off the generator before you check the oil.

12. The last two things that would remain plugged in if the propane tank got down to 5%: the refrigerator and the cell phone chargers.

13. Judging from the number of people who were in Stamford parks that were “Closed Until Further Notice,” Stamford residents have a healthy disregard for authority.

14. When everybody is complaining about gas lines, nobody is complaining about gas prices. And what’s all the complaining about anyway? Was nobody alive in 1973?

15. When a giant oak tree is torn from the ground by its roots, the hole left in the ground doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as big as the massive bottom of the tree.

BONUS LESSON: Considering the devastation that others suffered, I’m an idiot to complain about any of this.

See you soon.

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