Image from abc13.com. I was definitely NOT gonna drive out on icy roads in the dark, thank you.
I woke up to absolute quiet this morning, and that’s after I’d gone to bed before midnight and kinda expected to get up really early. But my alarm never went off, and I heard the dog moving around. That was the only sound. I should’ve heard my fish tank water at least, but when I finally opened my eyes, my clock was dead.
Oh joy. The weather was clearing up, but apparently today was the day for our power outage.
It was 7:30 and from the look of things, the power had been out an hour at least (well, that’s when the Entergy text came through to give me an update). It wasn’t the best morning for it. Because of the pipe mess, I didn’t make enough clean water to store (I did have a case of water just in case, but I hate the plasticky taste and use it as a last resort usually) with my Brita pitchers and apparently my plug in my bathtub wasn’t fully in place because there was no reserve in the tub. Guess some debris stopped it up. I had a few buckets already full and waiting, so that wasn’t the worst thing ever.
There are a ton of things I’ve realized I can deal with in power outages. I have a home with a fireplace, and if I have to use it, I’m glad to do so… I just hate my overly-sensitive smoke alarm that could go off any moment the smoke is just a wee bit too much (ugh, went off twice).
I have enough blankets to probably cover every surface of this house, so if I had to bundle up and wrap the birdcage with extra to create a warm pocket, no biggie. I can even handle no heater if I have to, as long as I’ve got clean layers. Plenty to snuggle with.
The water issue bothers me the most because running water just gets taken for granted. I had to deal with that yesterday morning, but the pipes ran fine the rest of the day. I created little pockets of windbreaks around any exposed pipe, which worked, though I still have my space heater in reserve in case the temp dips way down and kills it again… which could happen tomorrow.
No, the worst thing is not being able to flush the toilet without a bucket half-full of water. I don’t mind when it’s just urine because you can dilute it with minimal water and lessen the smell. But actual shit, sitting in the toilet, not flushed down is numero uno on my “hells no!” list of things I won’t deal with during a power outage. The only good thing that kind of awfulness is giving me is the excuse to use up those awful cans of french vanilla room spray my dad bought about 10 years ago. It’s better than the flowery potpourri crap in a can, but has a sickly sweet smell that just is all wrong. I might be able to get one can in the garbage by the end of this ordeal, maybe both.
Sorry I put that image in your head, but too late now.
So, I did learn a few things this morning. For one, my chargeable radio, ideal for getting the news stations better than anything else, came in handy, but didn’t hold a charge for more than 3 or 4 hours. That was annoying, because then I had to take it out to the car and start charging it again (not one of the kind you just swap the batts out). I am definitely on the lookout for a legit weather radio today while I have the internet available. It’s a good little set, but not gonna do me a lick of good in a lengthy emergency. I’d turned it off when I wasn’t in the room to listen in order to save power, and that’s probably the only reason it lasted so long.
I’d checked on my neighbors and we gave each other updates while we could. I have a battery backup for my landline (my phone goes through my internet data box, so I have to have it) and used it to catch up with others in case they needed to get ahold of me, especially when my cellphone went down to 29%. I went out to my car, warmed by the sun, with a book and the charger and read in peace with the phone off. It was nicely sunny and quiet.
My biggest concern to stave off boredom and sleep was the growing headache thanks to caffeine depravation. I couldn’t make coffee, but I started to experiment. I got one of my Pyrex measuring cups (because it holds a lot and is VERY thick glass) and when I had the fireplace going, I swept the debris aside and put the cup on the fireplace floor. The water never got to boiling, but was certainly steaming, good enough to dissolve the packet of instant latte peppermint mocha I’d had in the cabinet since probably before Christmas. I got a bit of a caffeine fix, and I think I’ll get more in case of situations like this. I was about to get my pour-over carafe and prep it for a cup, using the Pyrex for the water again, when the power came back on.
Well, the experiment worked. Hot enough coffee to make it worth it without a campfire percolator pot.
That was about two hours ago the power came back on, when all was sunny and nice. Now, it’s just after 4pm, the sun’s gone behind clouds (the approaching weather condition, I’m guessing) and I actually had to crank up the heater a bit because it got colder than when we had no power. It was a slight reprieve this morning, but now it’s apparent that I’m gonna have to milk what’s going on for all it’s worth. I couldn’t believe when the news reported that Harris County was telling folks to help the strain on the grid by keeping below 70 degs F on the heater. 70 degrees? I’d be boiling if it was that high, especially with all the layers I’ve been putting on. I’m still triple layered with a blanket on and reasonably comfortable, just my exposed hands are cold, though thawing out thanks to the little boost of heat.
The thermostat’s still only set at 65 because I really don’t want to strain the grid we just got back to working. As much as I want to wash dishes or do a load of laundry, I’m gonna hold off til this situation is over, because those things suck up the most power. I have plenty of clothes and I’m getting my paper plates and such out for the next couple of days (and hand washing dishes instead while I can).
The first thing I did when I got the power back on was rectified the situation with the bathtub. Apparently some rocks got wedged in there (probably from cleaning shoes or aquarium ornaments, but I checked on the water level a bit ago and it hasn’t changed, so I guess I got it for now. Then I flushed the toilets and gave ’em a scrub. I checked on the fish in the tanks (had emergency air pumps to oxygenate the water going an hour a pop to save batteries) and put the filters back on for them. Then I got my storage pitchers out, my two Brita pitchers, and started making fresh water to store and drink for the next few days. I’ll be going out to get a lot more firewood for an inside stash from the covered area when I get done with this. It’s gonna get ugly… again.
That link was from a few days ago, but super informative. Just wish I’d caught it the first time, darn it. Galveston County’s got it a helluva lot worse. Dozens dead, and fingers crossed that power comes to them quicker.
The rest of this time with my internet and power is gonna be spent getting the things I’m missing on my emergency items list. I also need to get a bag of kitty litter next time I get to the store for traction on the steps. My hairy boy almost made me bust my ass on the icy wooden steps because he was so excited to get out there. I’m trying to remember if throwing some sand down or kitty litter would be better. Probably the kitty litter, but with icy conditions supposed to return tonight… I’ll just avoid those steps in favor of the still snow-covered ones. The snow is on top of the ice, but at least the snow has SOME traction to it (and the dog goes more carefully down them).
Anyway, better get searching for better supplies and get my totes out for winter emergency kits. I gotta make one for my car just in case, too, anyway. No time like the present.