Today was definitely my low point. I was bitchy and bitter because I smelled bad, every block in town had power except for mine, my phone was dead, it was cold, and all my food was rotting.
I wrote a blog entry on a paper bag in case the power stayed out…about the paper bag thing…I don’t have any paper in my house, which I know is kind of dumb for a writer. So I used scraps. Call it arty if you like. Yeah. Arty.
My Chinese mother brought over a cookstove, which was much appreciated, so I made some tea. Then I spent the rest of the day moping and being cold and stinky, until around four, when I went to friends to charge my phone and take a shower. They also very kindly fed me and were generally hospitable and excellent. (See the earlier post from today, which I wrote from their computer.)
When I got home, the power was on, and I rejoiced, falling upon the internet like a starving beast.
Although I was bitchy today, I still enjoyed the storm. I liked walking around and seeing the damage, and it was fun to interact with people. I also definitely appreciate my nice cold fridge and nice hot water, and the heaters that are running in an attempt to get the house toasty before bedtime. I’m glad the PG&E figured out whatever was wrong with our block and fixed it.
That said, PG&E is getting an earful from me about my father’s house.
On the night of the storm, a tree fell across his driveway, literally ripping the phone and power cables out of his wall. The tree also took out a power pole, and would have nailed his house if the wind hadn’t been blowing last night. Power was cut to the lines, as it is automatically when a line breaks, so the situation wasn’t really a safety issue.
My father reported it in the morning, after the phone company came by and reinstalled the phone line. I’m not sure how the phone company knew to do this; maybe the system sends out a damage alert or something. Anyway, props to SBC for getting out there within hours of the breakage. PG&E said they would get to the tree when they could, and that my dad shouldn’t touch it. Which was reasonable; there’s a lot of damage across Northern California and while three households were cut off along that driveway, I understand the need for triage.
However, those three households house a 99 year old woman, a woman in her 80’s, and my father. Fortunately my Chinese mother was willing to play shuttle, and so she drove to the base of the driveway to pick up my dad, who went into town and got supplies for all three houses. He also made sure that woodstoves were in order, and so forth.
All seems well, albeit annoying, right?
Well, earlier today, my father heard a strange popping noise, and all his lights started flickering. He realized that PG&E had restored power…to the downed line. Which was tangled in the tree. And thrashing around in a ditch. A ditch full of water. Old people. Live power lines. Ditches of water. See a problem here?
My father called PG&E, who said they would “send a trouble crew out.” When I last talked to him, that had not happened; the line was still live, still crackling around, still posing a major safety risk. Because the line is damaged, his house was only getting partial power, which may have fried his pump. He turned his main off so that the fluctuating voltage couldn’t cause any more problems.
Now, I know PG&E is really busy right now. And I am a little bitchy at them for not getting my power back until two days after the rest of town. But I feel like a live power line in a ditch of water is a serious safety risk which should be attended too. I’m not asking PG&E to come out and take the tree away, put up a new phone pole, and make everything dandy, I just want them to cut power to the damn line so that my father doesn’t electrocute himself and so that the old people’s houses don’t catch fire. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, is it?