• Carmen Marie Fabio

Power struggle


As of press date, I sincerely hope every reader has had their electric power restored and that any damages incurred during last week’s wild wind storm were minor with no expensive frozen food losses. Though we got through it relatively unscathed with power out for only a day, at this writing my brother in the Eastern Townships is on Day 5 of having no electricity, getting by with a woodstove, a generator, and a sheer sense of stubbornness.

Though I thought it was an unnecessary purchase at the time, our own generator was a godsend Friday night as the sump pump failed and water began to accumulate in the basement. Nothing says family bonding like holding a flashlight under your chin while you and the kids desperately try and sweep water back into the sump pit after finally getting the pump hooked up to the generator that we were finally able to get going after finally locating the gasoline jerry can somewhere in the back of the garage. Lessons learnt for the next time Mother Nature invokes her wrath – and we know that there will definitely be a next time.

My tiny woodstove served as a makeshift cooktop and we were able to dine on a version of pizzas cooked with naan bread (and all the usual pizza toppings) in a lidded frying pan that essentially functioned like an oven. Not quite the real thing but enjoyable nonetheless.

Like anything in life that throws you for a loop, it comes with lessons and though the region’s famous ice storm followed by the completely benign Y2K scare were both two decades ago, I still rely on tips gleaned from both.

Keep your candles in the freezer. That way you’ll always know where they are whilst you’re stumbling around in the dark and, because they’ve been frozen, they burn a little longer.

A lot of things can be cooked on a woodstove. Breaded fish fillets? No problem. Spaghetti and meatballs? Sure. It may take a little longer but it’s doable and if it means feeding a few of your neighbours rather than letting it all go to waste, even better.

Don’t get rid of your dusty old corded land line phone. When your cell phone runs out and your cordless won’t work without electricity, that old Bell model from the 1980s is your lifeline.

Keep all your batteries and flashlights in the same place. My son even found an old spelunker light worn on the head, a long-ago gift from my mom, which came in handy as he was helping mop up the flood waters.

If you’re a camping fan (I’m not but I’m related to some people who actually like that sort of thing) the Coleman Stove and battery-powered light can do double-duty during a blackout. All that’s missing is the whining mosquitoes.

Despite the ostriches who insist the climate is not changing and the wild weather we’re encountering is completely expected, these freak meteorological occurrences may very well be our new normal.

A generator isn’t cheap, but neither is a chest freezer full of food that’s slowly melting. An environmentally-approved woodstove with low particulate emission is phenomenally expensive. But if you’re on day five without power and the temperature is dipping below zero, the sense of self-sufficiency while the world goes to hell is priceless.