All OK after last night's storm!

Virginia7074June 30, 2012

What a monster! It's apparently called a derecho. Started around Chicago in the morning & boomeranged through to the east at 60mph. Hit the DC metro area around 10, which is about when we lost our power. It's still out & may not be restored for days. Luckily, no major damage here & there are other scenarios that are much worse.

We have our generator running our refrigerators, but I may have to cedar-plank 3 pounds of Copper River salmon tomorrow, We had to cancel having friends over for dinner tonight.

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Oops - meant that to be a question. It's not easy typing on an itty-bitty virtual keyboard,

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 7:19PM
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So glad to read you are OK, Virginia. Yes, a nasty storm for sure. We are spotters for NOAA (US Weather Service) & spent most of last night listening to the chatter. There's been several news worthy weather events recently - FL TS Debby, & CO fires & yesterday the derecho. Wonder what's next? :(


    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 7:38PM
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I will respond although some will probably be upset that this is not in conversations.

It was one heck of a storm in VA yesterday. We hit the basement fast when the winds picked up to over 80+. We have some shingles missing but all plants and trees made it. Lots of others in my neighborhood did not fair as well.

It was a fast moving and crazy storm. My DH, dog and I were pretty scared.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Yes, that was quite a storm, I saw pictures on the internet.

I'm glad you checked in, I was mentally trying to figure out who was in those states...


    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 10:11PM
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There may still be people from the forum without power. I'm glad you checked in.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 7:44AM
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We were without power for 14 hours. NOVEC got us back up in a short time. There are still many in VA/DC/MD without though. All the power companies are working hard.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 9:15AM
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Still widespread outtages in northern Virginia & no restoration estimates yet. Ours is still out and since we have a well, no water either. We're running a generator and the family room is relatively cool with fans, even though the outside temp is 98. Ironically, our Verizon wifi works.
The last time we lost power for this long was in '03, during Isabel. DH & I went out earlier (a friend had invited us to a nice little French restaurant for lunch), so we went to the gym for a little workout and a shower & then went there. Traffic signals are out en masse. 911 is not functional. Trees, limbs and wires still down. If you heard about power being knocked out to the Amazon Cloud, Netflix & Instagram, that is 2 miles from me.

Just to keep this food-related: I bought my 3 pounds of Copper River salmon on Friday and it's been generator-refrigerated ever since. How much longer do you think it will hold? Or should I cut it into portions and freeze it?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 4:52PM
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I don't care if it's food related or not - I'm just glad you are OK! I was thinking of you.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 5:08PM
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To those of you who have power gererators, take the time to check the oil, replace the engine oil if you have not done so for a while.

Machine oil can get used up, or age and become rancid.

For a few dollars, your generator can last a lot longer.

Good luck to you.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 6:29AM
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At first I wondered why it wasn't a question, but I see that you cleared that up. This is definitely cooking related since it affects food storage and cooking methods. It is good to discuss how you adapt cooking during power outtages from time to time. I have a propane burner in the garage that I store with my camping equipment, even though I haven't been camping in a few years. I just heard about this storm this morning briefly, and so I really do not know much about it yet.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 11:45AM
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Dixie, I can imagine how scared you were, it seems that every area of our country has it's weather nightmares.

Virginia, I'm glad you are OK and that you have generators. Do you stock up on bottled water? How healthy and clever to go workout and then shower, that's a really good idea. What did you do with your salmon?

When our power was out for fifteen hours last December, we went out for breakfast to a local restaurant with power and wifi and found that everyone, like us, was using their cell phone and the internet, making calls and downloading books to read until electricity was restored. Or dentist and his wife stopped in to download books before taking their just purchased generator home.

This time we are really lucky that the winds have been blowing smoke from the Flagstaff fire away from us and although we are only several miles away, we have not had any problems. My heart goes out to all those who have lost property, or worse have lost loved ones in the extreme weather events all across the country.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 12:18PM
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I'm in KY and we got hit with that mess too. We've been without power from friday evening until about 3 today (monday). We didn't have any damage other than some branches down in the yard, but it sure was HOT. We could have gone to my dad's to stay but wouldn't leave the generator with a side of beef in the freezer. We did have the tv hooked to the generator and decided we didn't have it to bad after seeing the fires in CO.. HOT beats no home any day of the week. I'm glad to see others are ok too.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 7:17PM
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Glad to hear no major damage or injuries to anyone in the group. But going without power is no fun, that's for sure!

I talked to my daughter in Chicago and they got some strong winds and hail but no damage and no power outages.

I wish we would get some rain here, it's so dry and SO HOT! It was one year ago yesterday that we got hit with a twister and lost over 25 trees plus damage to our house and garage. We're still cleaning up from that one!


    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 9:28PM
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Dry and hot here too, we need some rain. A crunchy pasture isn't much to complain about, though, considering some of the other weather in the country right now.

So, I'm telling the stock to shut up and pretend it's cornflakes, LOL, and just be thankful that a "moderate" drought is the worst weather problem I have right now.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 10:50PM
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Power came back on around 3:30 today. I'm thankful for that, and thankful that all I suffered was a loss of power. I really feel for those who are still in the dark and hope they get back on the grid soon.

It's really special how everyone pulls together, from grocery stores giving out free ice to neighbors opening up their homes for showers, electronics charging, naps, cocktails and what have you.

I grilled the salmon on a cedar plank tonight and it was yummy, along with some sweet corn. DD and her BF came over and we had a nice visit.

Chalk this up to another wicked storm and hopefully no more derechos for a long time. The last one I remember was on July 4, 1969, in northern Ohio and that was a monster, too!

DH is changing the generator oil tomorrow. I do have some water stockpiled now, but I usually rely on filling up the bathtub (for flush water). What I learned from this is that the water slowly leaks out from the stopper and only lasts about 2 days. Filling up gallon jugs at a neighbor's or DD's is a better plan.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 11:02PM
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We're in Baltimore, and thankfully still have power. We've got a furry four legged refugee who's enjoying the air conditioning.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 11:16PM
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I am glad to hear from people who can post about being safe from the storms. And I do believe that the subject is integral to this forum about cooking. Cooking and eating is essentially about living. Sometimes we live it up, and sometimes we do what we can to survive. I've learned a lot about both from this community.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 11:29PM
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Thank you Lee. You are so right that there are many diasters going on in the US right now. We have good friends in Colorado Springs. They are fine as of right now but have some friends staying in their basement that had to evacuate their home.

Bryansda, I have family in KY also (Louisville). We were just there visiting with them two weeks ago. Glad your OK.

Glad to hear from others also. Good news for you Virginia with getting power back. It has been so brutally hot here in NOVA. I woke up some time during the night and it was raining pretty hard but don't know how long it lasted.

We were extremely fortunate that we didn't lose any food.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 7:34AM
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We were hard-hit here in Baltimore. Hurricane-force winds -- wires down, trees uprooted, debris everywhere -- many dark neighborhoods and businesses -- traffic lights out at many major intersections -- a real mess! But we were safe, and we had hot and cold running water. Our power was out for almost 3 full days. With temps in the high 90s and low 100s outdoors and mid-80s in the house, it was best to stay sedentary, so we did a lot of paperwork and reading. It was a challenge to find restaurants that were open.

I bought a thermometer so I could keep tabs on the temps in the refrigerator. My freezer was fully stocked, and I avoided opening the door, but eventually the temp rose to about 40 degrees in the freezer and 60 degrees in the fridge. As soon as the power came on, I started checking and sorting the food in the freezer--didn't want to wait till it was refrozen. I discarded ground meat and fish that was even partially thawed. Lost my stash of frozen turkey broth and leftovers, too, and, of course, the ice cream. But most of the chicken and swordfish was still hard-frozen. I think the frozen veggies will be OK (in terms of safety, if not quality) after refreezing. From the fridge, I discarded most dairy products and eggs (the cheese seems OK). I've done better during other power outages, in the past, but this time, it was just too hot and too long.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 9:53AM
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Keeping this food related because it is toooooo hot to eat! I'm in central VA and lost power Fri. night and probably will no be back on til July 7! A generator is keeping fridge and freezer, but not large enough to run AC.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 11:41AM
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Here in C'ville VA, we finally got power back yesterday around 8:00 P.M. I had just given up on getting a borrowed-but-not-working generator to work, and was re-assembling it to return it, and the porch light came on. Yay!

We placed large bags of ice in the fridge, which kept that side cool, and even as late as Sunday evening the food in the freezer was all still frozen solid. By Monday afternoon when I got a small (2000W) portable generator for just the fridge, meat items in the top of the freezer were partially thawed, but the temperature was still below normal fridge temperature. So I placed the partially thawed items in the fridge, grilled some of the hamburgers, and was trying to figure out how to grill a pork tenderloin, when the power finally came back on.

The toughest part of it (aside from having to clean up 4 fully downed trees and 7 major branches) was dealing with having no water. We filled every jug we could to use the water in the pressure tank, we had a hot tub that could be used for flushing, and a skanky, scummy, spring-filled cement cow trough that could be used for the vegetable garden, but we also have three horses (including a two-month-old filly) at the house that have been drinking about 40 gallons of water a day.

There are still many more around us without power and my heart really goes out to them.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 12:20PM
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When you have a power outage, don't be too concerned about opening the freezer or the refrigerator to get food.

If your freezer has one cubic foot of free air space, and replacing it with room temperature air by opening the door, (let's say there is a 50F difference in temperature) you will be losing only 0.85 BTUs of heat.

If you have a big investment in frozen food in your freezer and yopu expect a long power outage, go to HD and get some cheap foam insulation boards to suround the freezer. For a few dollars you can get many more hours of keeping your food frozen.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 2:59PM
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We survived the storm with power on though most of my coworkers lost power. My DS and DIL in rural VA. lost power and are still off-line. It's been about 100 every day.

On Monday night our power went out - transformer failed. We are "on the list" for repairs. Got a generator today at Lowes. Now we have a fan, fridge, freezer, light and FIOS Internet, but no water. Should have gotten a generator after the hurricane last summer.

This is not fun.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 7:56PM
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Virginia, we had a derecho on May 31, 1998. 4 people died, over 100 injured, millions of dollars of property damage. I had no power for nearly a week, but it was the end of May so it wasn't stifling hot and it wasn't cold.

Consumer's Energy lost 5 large towers between Ludiington and Grand Rapids which were designed to withstand continuous winds up to 90 mph and gusts to 110 mph. The wind hit 130 MPH in some places and the towers were gone, making it the most "destructive weather event" in the company's history.

So I lost a freezer full of beef but it wasn't too hot or too cold, I was comfortable without heat or air conditioning and my city water supply was operational so with the camp stove and Corningware percolator it wasn't so bad, thankfully. We haven't had another one since.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 10:11PM
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Very very happy to hear all of you and your homes are OK after the recent derecho.

We live in the Chicago area and took pics of the forming derecho. It took all of 5 minutes to pass over us and contrary to the ominous skies, we received not one drop of rain. My sister said it looked like the sky from the Ghostbusters movie.

Hope your power returns quickly.

Here is a link that might be useful: Slideshow of the June 29 2012 derecho skies

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 8:07AM
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Goodness! I didn't realize there were this many CFers in my general area. I'm out in Haymarket. Our power flickered on/off a couple of times, but that's it. Our generator didn't even have time to kick on. We did lose a few trees and tops of trees, but nothing that did any damage this time. We're out in the "country" on septic and well we didn't lose anything. We did lose internet for a day (Verizon T1). We still cannot make phone calls to DC area code. The kids all have friends...some of whom are still without power in their we've been host to a revolving door of friends.

I have to say, I was shocked to hear that at one point over 3million were without power in the region. I did see the storm on the radar in the Chicago area around 6:30, I want to say and by 9:30 it was overhead, fast, furious and LOUD! I'd never heard of a derecho, though. (I wonder why some weather events have Spanish names? El niño, La niñ derecho?)

Glad to hear everyone fared reasonably well.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 8:30AM
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I have never heard of a dorecho until this storm. The sky in those pictures look like the sky did back when I lived in Wichita Falls, TX, back in the late 1970's, and the giant tornadoes hit, destroying large areas of the town and killing 45 people. I'll never forget a sky like that. If you see that, head for cover.

I'm so sorry y'all are going through this. It's awful.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 9:44AM
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Derecho comes from the Spanish word for "straight".

It may be a Spanish word, but "derecho," the name for the type of long-lived and violent storm that streaked through Friday night was actually coined by the decidedly non-Spanish Gustavus Hinrichs, a Danish chemist. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, Hinrichs was a physics professor at the University of Iowa and was the first to use the word in his 1888 paper in the American Meteorological Journal.

"Hinrichs chose this terminology for thunderstorm-induced straight-line winds as an analog to the word tornado," NOAA says. "'Derecho' is a Spanish word that can be defined as 'direct' or 'straight ahead.' In contrast, the word 'tornado' is thought by some, including Hinrichs, to have been derived from the Spanish word 'tornar,' which means 'to turn.'"

The term derecho, however, didn't become part of the mainstream meteorological community's verbiage until the 1980s. It was then that Robert Johns, a forecaster from the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center revived it to distinguish the storms from tornados.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 9:48AM
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Momto4kids, I was thinking that either you or momj47 lived not too far from me. I'm in Ashburn. I feel for anyone who is still without power. We had a storm with some good lightning last night and I prayed that it wouldn't be a bad one again.

We're investigating hooking our generator (or maybe a larger one) into our electrical panel. Running water would make a big difference. I think a lot of people are thinking along those lines now - or at least preparing to lose power for longer than 72 hours.

I've found a lot of interesting sites, videos and pictures about derechos. The 1969 storm that I remember is the Ohio Fireworks Derecho. If anyone is interested, this site is a good one. If you click on Noteworthy Derechos of Recent Decades, you'll probably find a storm close to you that was actually a derecho.

Here is a link that might be useful: Derecho Facts

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 1:16PM
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Virginia I also feel for all of those that are still without power. It's been a rough time for them since Friday night. We had strong winds, thunder/lightening last night here too. I'm close neighbors with you too!

Momto4kids I'm real close to you. I'm in Bristow. Born and raised in Fairfax. The storm last night headed our way from Haymarket.

The heat is not letting up here.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 1:27PM
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Tricia...thanks for the info!

Virginia7074...we had our generator connected to the electrical panel when we built the house. We lived in Great Falls (notorious for power outages at the slightest hint of wind) when Isabel hit and were without power for over a week. We didn't understand anything about building in the country...but people kept telling us we'd be crazy not to put in a generator. We have our well, main fridges, HVAC on the main floor, power to kitchen and master bedroom...and of course our internet (heaven forbid we be without that!) all hooked up to the panel that comes on if the generator comes on. Took some tweaking to figure out what we absolutely had to have...but we got it right, finally!

Dixiedog_2007...I thought there was someone out by me. I'm in Bristow at PR@Partners every 4 or 5 weeks! Haha!

Virginia and Dixie...we were at Great Meadows for the fireworks when the 3 cells came through. As the first one approached, they made everyone leave the grounds and go back and shelter in place in our cars. Heavy rain and huge hail, but a quickly passing cell. Then we had to stay in our cars because the second cell was on it's way. A little rain, but a storm never materialized, so they finally let us out after about 45 minutes. The last cell was expected right as the fireworks show would have they started the show early and hustled through it. They dispersed everyone from that park so was quite remarkable. We got home, got the cars in the garage, let the poor doggies out, ran back int he house and the heavens broke open. It was an amazing lightning show, I'm sure you all didn't miss that! But, yes, I feared it was going to be another bad one, too.

I was out yesterday with the girls and had no idea we were expecting 100 degree temps. Good gracious...I'm ready for a cold front. I'm worried about all these people that still don't have power. Everyone we know is back up. I hope the rest come back up today.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 6:43AM
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I have a generator and would like to make a couple of points for those considering a generator. The critical point is that the generator must be isolated from the electric grid. If it wasn't, then linemen repairing local downed lines could be hurt or killed by the generator feeding power back to those lines.

The usual approach is to wire the generator through a separate electric panel that has specific circuits to be activated during the anticipated power outage. Isolation is achieved through a large switch that (usually) automatically switches the main power off when the power fails and switches the generator line on.

This approach has two problems. It requires the extra panel with switch and detailed rewiring that is expensive. For this cost you get the previlidge of having to choose what circuits to have the electrician wire up for you, and losing access to all the others.

Fortunately, there is usually a better, cheaper approach. You still need an electrician unless you are handy, and you may need an extra small panel if your electric panel is already full of breakers. If your main brerakers are in line with your other breakers, you need to move one or two breakers directly next to the mains and replace with a double breaker for the generator that is attached with a special rocker lever that prevents the generator breaker being activated until the main breaker has been shut off. The generator breaker sends power to ALL circuits.

I'm not sure this would work for old main breakers that sit separately from the regular circuits. This is also a manual approach for a hand started generator. But it is far cheaper and far superior because it allows one to use ANY circuit. I have a 7000 watt generator. I often run one of our house air conditioners. I assume that I could use the electric oven, but I would turn off the air conditioner first. Anyway, all power is available. Need lights in the attic; its there. Spare bedroom; its there; no problem.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 8:30AM
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That's interesting info, Chas. Thanks!

I hope more people are getting their power back today. I'm still thinking about all of you. If you get tired of being hot, come to Texas. It's actually cooler here that in much of the midwest!


    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 9:12AM
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Very good information, chas045. Thanks.

I have always suggested everyone to get a generator. Weather problems will be with us for the next century.

You need to power up your heating system in the winter. Pipes bursting in the winter can cost you thousands.

You need to run your water pump if you have a well.

You need to keep your refrigerator going.

It's good to have lights, computer, phones and internet.

I am not advocating this, because it is illegal. Back-feeding with a generator is the cheapest way to go to power up half of your house. However, I always find it difficult to understand with the main technical reason that back-feeding can kill a lineman. A professional lineman takes all kinds of precaution when he is working. If you don't turnoff your main breaker, you simply cannot start your generator. Your generator will be attempting to power up your entire neighborhood and all the street lights.

Repeat: Don't do it, just use a heavy duty extension cord. It is not that painful to use an extension cord for a few days.

A 1,000 watt generator is about $200. How big a generator do you need?

Incandescent light about 100 watts
CFL light, 25 watts
Computer about 100 watts
Phone charger, 1 watt
Small electric fan, 50 watts
Microwave, 600 to 1,250 watts
Toaster oven, about 1,800 watts
Refrigerator, Freezer, depending on size, from 800 watts
Attic fan, 350 watts
Forced air heating system fan, 500 watts
Refrigerator, 20 cf, 800 watts
TV, 250 watts

Air conditioner, about 1 watt/BTU rating
Hair dryer, up to 1,850 watts

Electric oven, forget about it. Takes too much power.
Electric water heater, 2,500 watts to 4,500 watts.

Three other important things to keep in mind, besides capacity of a generator.

1. full-load running time
2. Noise level - quiet generators are more expensive. But you don't want your neighbors complaining. 60 dbs is very quiet. You will get lots of complains at about 80 dbs.
3. weight - A good 2,000 watt generator can be light enough to go camping with, others can be very heavy to transport.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 9:39AM
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dcarch, I suppose you are right about not being able to start the generator and loading the neighborhood, although the way to start the house generator is actually to leave the generator breaker off so that there is NO load. Only when the generator is running smoothly does one throw the house load to the generator.

When you are on a well like we are, you find that the first problem is that you can't wash your hands and it of course gets worse from there. But the small generator wouldn't drive the well pump assuming that there was a way to connect it.

I agree that the noise is a pain, but others with generators won't hear it, and those without can come over to your house and cook their thawed food with the help of your lights; and burners if you have gas (I do); and watch the game. Instant Party. :-D

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 11:27AM
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A deepwell pump can be 1,500 watts.

Regarding backfeeding with a generator. First, 110v is dangerous, but not that dangerous, and you need to touch both lines to get a shock, or if you are grounded electrically. I would not touch two wires if I was a lineman, and all lineman ladders are fiberglass insulated from ground and they always wear rubber shoes.

Again, if you are not disconnected from the panel, there is no way your generator can get started, as far as I know.

I have a feeling that the law on the books is there because of the electrical union lobbyists. But a law is a law, obey the law.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 12:04PM
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We got our power back today, they came and replaced the transformer. Thanks guys for the hard work.

We did get a generator Wednesday morning - it really makes a difference. Got the fridge, freezer, FIOS, internet, TV, and a few lights and fans running. It was like joining the land of the living. It was too hot to do anything - 5 minutes at the sink and sweat was just running down my face. I saved showers for the YMCA and washed up at work in the morning. What a week. The basement was cool enough to sleep, so we got through.

FWIW, my neighbor backfeeds, the 240W outlet through the dryer plug, so he has his water pump working, we filled buckets. He did manage to fry all his electronics in his office the first time he started the generator! Not sure I want to do that, so I'll probably have an electrician change the pump to a plug so I can plug it into the generator next time. With two big power failures this year, I'm not optimistic there won't be more.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 4:52PM
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My power came back (here in the southeastern most county in WV) on last night--after 8 days. I was doing fine though compared to most--gravity feed water to the house and my freezer contents saved at friends houses--one all solar, the other with a full house generator wired in. But my son and family in the center of the state still have no power and their area has been essentially abandoned by its officials--no one in charge of a disaster plan, the mayor enjoying himself at the Greenbrier golf tournament since the morning after the storm, no FEMA help, and for two days, not even any water. It's disgusting.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 5:49AM
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To bring it back to cooking, I was going to post here how I had found a wineberry patch on my property, and had picked a couple of cups of them to make a Wineberry Vinaigrette dressing. (Wineberries are very similar to raspberries, but are smaller, sweeter, and more tart and have stems that are vastly more thorny.)

As I was cleaning up the various downed trees on our property I discovered that one of them, a giant white pine, has completely smashed the entire wineberry patch :-(

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 11:03AM
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Oh Bob, that sucks. I'm hoping that they are like our wild blackberries, and will just spring up next year around that pine.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 12:05PM
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