Sunday, December 17, 2006


Powerless?

Not At All


We have been out of power since last Thursday in North Bend, Washington due to a freak storm that blew down many trees, phone and power lines. Three weeks ago, we had a 500 year flood. This week, it's a 200 year wind storm. (I am posting this from my daughter's gymnastics meet in Kent, WA where they do have power and wireless Internet.) 1 1/2 million people have no electricity in the Puget Sound area. Grocery stores running on emergency power are running low on canned and no refrigeration food, batteries, flashlights, candles, blankets. Gasoline lines are about 30-50 cars long. Many gas stations are closed because there is no power to run the pumps. The food bank is nearly out of food. It's unknown how the homeless are surviving.

At our house, we have no electricity but we do have natural gas, water and sewage. However, our gas furnace does not run because we have no electricity to run the blower. The gas fireplace is good for romantic effect, but has little capability to heat the house. On Friday morning, I got in line to order 40 lbs of propane to run my coleman stove and propane heater. I have yet to take delivery. Our house, without heat, is relatively warm at 58-60 degrees although it's 38-45 outside. It's slightly passive-solar although it was not designed to be that way. We are told we will not have commercial power restored until after Christmas.

While FEMA / and the Department of Homeland defense is busy fighting a supposed war on terror, three weeks ago, we were flooded and never received any help. Albeit a few local policemen kept people from driving down streets that were 3 1/2 feet under water. The dike broke, but I'm pretty much convinced it will never be fixed by the Army Corps of Engineers. It's simply not a priority. We are told we need our Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq to secure our national interests (=oil for Bush's corporate buddies).

Now that our power is out, we are working our way through this emergency. In our town, people have been cooperating in helping each other through this. People have helped each other with chain saws to cut down trees that have been blown over by the winds. I have helped neighbors hook up their generators to provide power for needed for medical equipment like a sleep apnia breathing machine and a nebulizer for astma treatments. The neighborhood hardware store was giving away firewood to help the community. This week, I will volunteer at the local food bank. And, actually, it does not surprise me that we have not had any looting, shootings or other violent incidents so far.

I could not imagine how the Republican paradigm of every woman, man and child for themselves will work in the long run, especially under conditions like these. It takes a community of people helping each other to minimize the death toll in such situations.

We need to fix things, not in Iraq or Afghanistan, but right here at home. We need to make sure that communities are safe from flooding. We need to encourage people to become energy independent or at least to have backup power. We need to encourage passive-solar home designs again. We need to ensure that everyone has access to proper healtcare. We need to make sure that our kids get good educations. If the leadership cannot find ways to help prevent or at least helping find solutions to problems such at these, we will need to find leadership that can. You see, we were flooded and now don't have electrical power, but we're not powerless to do something about it.


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