Lessons of the Snowstorm

Street_IMG_9079It may be a cliche, but isn’t it funny how it can take a crisis like the massive snowstorm to bring neighbors together. In Merriman Park–where our house lost power once for two hours, again for 24 hours and a third time for eight more–tree limbs were falling everywhere (photo by SweetCharity). Then Matt, a guy from one street over I hadn’t talked to in a year, arrived on the scene with a chainsaw and started cutting up limbs and piling them on the sidewalks all up and down the street. (Why’d he do it, I asked? “Hero complex,” he said wryly.)

When power on our side of the street flickered back on for awhile, David, from two doors down, ran a power cord into another neighbor’s place that was still dark. Then he started loading everybody’s hacked brush into his pickup, bound for the dump. (I hadn’t talked with him in probably five years.)

We loaned Gene across the street a tall ladder, took in neighbor Gary and Dee’s dog while Dee went to a friend’s house with their baby, brought folks back Cafe Express burgers and fries and opened the (50-degrees and dropping) house to ’em with a fire in the gas fireplace.

Besides the value of community, Texan-style, another big lesson reinforced by this storm: the importance of electricity, how vulnerable we all are without it. (Note to Bin Laden and crew: Forget the tall buildings; just go for the grid.) Most of us don’t even know how the stuff is produced, much less anything about surviving in its absence.

And, while the electronic-dependent flailed in the dark, some special kudos are owed to three “dinosaur” institutions. Despite the war-torn look of our streets, the Dallas Morning News carrier plopped a paper in the drive each morning, right on time. The U.S. mailman delivered every afternoon. And Oncor did an outstanding job restoring juice to tens of thousands of homes under crisis conditions. Those of us who are warm again salute you.

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Comments

  • MegB

    Um, Glenn? Let’s home that Oncor isn’t finished. Our LH neighborhood is going on 72 hours with no power, and while I am trying to be patient, my fuse is getting shorter and shorter.

  • Peterk

    72 hours without power is nothing. several years ago the remnants of a hurricane hit Richmond Va, and I was without power for 10 days. March 2009 a snowstorm hit Richmond and I was without power for 4 days, worse the streets weren’t plowed. thank goodness I had gas so I could make chili, soup and other hot foods

    someone should compare the power outages from this storm to the Ice storm of 1980

  • Brent D.

    Last week in Oklahoma my 95-year-old grandmother was without electricity for 7 straight days. She lost a fridge and freezer full of food. Luckily she had a gas (propane) stove to keep her warm. Others there weren’t so fortunate.

    Her only comment was “this it the longest I’ve been without electricity since electricity was invented”.

    Some others should have such an wonderful and thankful attitude.

  • Chris Schein

    On behalf of the thousands of employees and contractors who have been working around the clock, thank you, Glenn. To MegB and the others who are still without power, be assured, we’re still working and will work 24/7 until power is restored to everyone. And Peterk, that ice storm (it was actually 1979), resulted in about 75,000 outages and lasted 10 days. Current estimates are that more than 500,000 outages occurred in this storm over three days — the company’s 4th worst.

  • Bill

    @ Chris Schein,

    To be fair though, in 1979, the DP&L service area and number of consumers was much smaller than 2010. The 75,000 without power represented a much larger percentage of customers. Not to mention the incredible mess. Electrical service in the past couple years has become fairly unreliable in Dallas. I could not imagine the disaster that an ice storm with wind would bring.

  • a Tree person

    Hello? Dallas? That is why it is so important that we listen to our City Forester and City Arborist and Oncor and our Parks & Recreation Department! And increase their budget to educate the citizens of Dallas on trees and utility lines. Some of these outages were not preventable, however, I’m sure a lot could have been prevented. Dallas cannot afford to cut the budget out of these areas of our city.

  • Well, how’d you like to be a doctor in the middle of surgery when the power goes off? Thank God Presby has back-up generators!
    (Poor patients!)

  • Michael Bluth

    Since we’re reliving our snowstorm memories, try being in DC the last week or so.
    I’ve never seen so much snow in my life, and it’s supposed to snow tomorrow (Round 3) . . . I don’t know where we’re going to put it.
    I’ve been miserable, though I must commend Montgomery County, Maryland for its fast plowing.

  • MegB

    As a follow-up, my power was restored at 7:00 last night. I made sure to thank the Oncor employees who got the job done. I realize that there are people in this world who have experienced (and are experiencing) far worse than what we went through this weekend, but it was still frustrating, especially when communication from Oncor was minimal.

  • Tom

    To echo what MegB said, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the work Oncor does to restore power, I just wish they had a better way to update people on the process.
    It makes setting up a place for pets and people to stay a lot easier.

  • Peterk

    @Chris IIRC it was New year’s Eve 1978. the same thing happened then that is happening now tree limbs crashing down and breaking power lines

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ak5x/3202016721/
    http://www.americanlifelinesalliance.org/pdf/IceStormSummaries.pdf

    I live in a heavily wooded part of Richmond Va. This past summer Dominion Power finally realized that they needed to trim the trees. my street alone has suffered from several power outages due to the trees.

    Several years ago the remnants of a hurricane Isabel came through Richmond leaving hundreds of thousands without power
    “The downed trees snapped many power lines, leaving about 365,000 Dominion Virginia Power customers in the Richmond area without power”
    we were without power for 10 days, four days is nothing
    http://www.harkphoto.com/isabel.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Isabel
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_Hurricane_Isabel_in_Virginia

  • Daniel

    How’d you like to have a plug-in heart, and then the electricity goes out? That would suck!

  • Eastside

    Would be nice if the city or Oncor (not sure who is responsible for it) would trim the trees on the power lines in a timely fashion. We have trees all over our power lines in our alley. We got our trees trimmed this summer and the company told me they can’t touch the trees by the power lines. We’ve lived in our house for over 3 yrs and have never seen anyone out to trim them. Anyone know who is responsible??

    On a side note, I liked the sign on Buckner Rd on Sunday: “Where’s Oncor??” Made me laugh until I got home and my power was out.

  • a Tree person

    You are responsible for the trees adjacent to you property even though they are on the city of Dallas property.

  • a Tree person

    Here is your resource to ask that question. http://www.dallastrees.org/