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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The following are excerpts from the Official Debriefing of the Great Pumpkin Blackout

Saturday, Oct 29, 2011, 0900 hours *: It begins snowing.
1200 hrs: the power goes out in Elwood Station. Several attempts to alert Peco are made between now and 1400 hrs. Most result in curse-laden, one-sided conversations with automated answering system.
1400 hrs: an oak tree with ants in its pants gives up its tenuous grip on life and falls on power lines across the street. Peco is alerted.
1900 hrs: neighbor Brian asks to borrow cell phone to call wife because his house has become an indiscriminate conductor of electricity. Scruffy goes to investigate.
1915 hrs: Observing Poltergeist-like effects of rampant electricity Scruffy dials 911.
1917 hrs: Scruffy evacuates Elwood Station. Fire department arrives for the first time. Peco is alerted that situation may be somewhat more serious than a power outage and if they could find the time, there presence at the scene would be appreciated.
2000 hrs: Nala the Pitbull is evacuated from Elwood Station. All three cottages are believed to be empty. Between now and 2200 coffee is drank, jokes are told, firefighters wander back and forth under downed tree and smoking wires and remark at Peco's lack of presence.
22oo hrs: Peco scout pick-up truck arrives on scene to assess situation. Peco realizes that situation may be somewhat more serious than a power outage and if they could find the time, a bucket truck and larger crew's presence would be appreciated. Fire department gets bored cuz nothing is actually on fire yet and goes home.
2300 hrs: Barely buried Verizon cable in yard in front of neighbor Brian's house begins to arc in dramatic, Chinese New Year sort of way. Witnesses stand around and prepare to leap into postures of helplessness if something catches fire. Two fire departments show up to aid in helpless bystanding. It is realized at this time that neighbor Mike is in a somnolent state in the third cottage and probably had to douse an oven fire sometime earlier in the day. He is evacuated.
2310 hrs: Verizon wire realizes that no one really appreciates it's efforts and gives up fireworks display. Firemen resume postures of boredom and tell anecdotes of how close they were to going to bed before this call went out.
0100 Sunday October 30th: Peco bucket truck arrives on scene.
0110 hrs: Peco has wires isolated and shutdown. Crisis is averted six hours after nick of time. Fire department departs again.
0115 hrs: Peco removes electric meter from Elwood Station
0116 hrs: Scruffy Mynxbane is asleep.
2000 hrs: Eagles play Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. Elwood station settles in to watch dramatic fiasco under generator power.
2100 hrs: Peco arrives to fix wires.
2300 hrs: Eagles surprise everyone by winning. Peco surprises everyone by finishing wires and leaving without restoring meter to Elwood Station.
1300 hrs Monday, October 31st: Peco's automated answering system is alerted that Elwood Station is still without power.
1400 hrs: Asplundh tree company comes and removes remains of tree from phone lines.
1200 hrs Tuesday, November 1st: after several less than satisfying conversations with automated answering system, Scruffy attempts to install meter his own dang self.
1201 hrs: Scruffy realizes power is turned off at street.
1700 hrs: Peco Sub-contractor comes to restore power, discovers lock on transformer. Contact is finally made with real, flesh and blood human being at Peco. Real, flesh and blood human notifies the sub-contractor that they will restore power when they receive permission from Fire Marshall. Sub-contractor wishes Frickens luck and leaves.
1730 hrs: Scruffy leaves voicemail for County Fire Marshall since it is after hours.
0800 hrs Wednesday, November 2nd: Beth at County Fire Marshall's office notifies Scruffy that their office knows not of what Peco speaketh. They have nothing to do with Frickens' fire or Frickens' power. Suggests perhaps local code enforcer was party Peco meant.
0801 hrs: Scruffy calls Township Code Enforcer's office and learns that Code Enforcer has been on vacation for last week. Code Enforcer's office wishes Scruffy luck and suggests trying Police department.
0802 hrs: Scruffy calls Hugelberg Police non-emergency line. Learns that local police know not of what Peco speaketh. Police suggest local fire chief. They wish Scruffy luck and give Scruffy cell phone number of Chief Jim.
0803 hrs: Scruffy leaves message for Chief Jim.
0900 hrs: Chief Jim returns Scruffy's call and notifies him that he knows not of what Peco speaketh. Suggests it may have been under chief on scene. Volunteers to make some calls and call back.
1700 hrs: Scruffy gets bored of waiting and calls Chief Jim, leaves message.
2000 hrs: Chief Jim calls Scruffy back and suggests that he get an independent electrician to check wires and call Peco.
2100 hrs: Scruffy secures Dr. Steve and the Electric Mayhem to inspect his wiring following morning at 0800 hrs.
0715 hrs Thursday, November 3rd: Dr. Steve and Electric Mayhem come and inspect wiring. Call in independent Independent Underwriter.
1130 hrs: Independent Underwriter arrives and quickly okays all wiring. Notifies Scruffy that once he turns in work ticket, Peco should get it in mail twenty-four to forty-eight hours from tomorrow. Scruffy expresses sarcastic elation. Independent Underwriter leaves copy of ticket, wishes Scruffy luck and suggests calling Peco again.
1200 hrs: Scruffy calls Peco and is put on hold.
1230 hrs: Scruffy makes contact with what is initially thought to be real, live person at Peco, explains measures taken to enforce safety, explains efforts made to contact Fire Marshall, explains that Fire Marshall has no jurisdiction in situation. Supposed real, live person at Peco mechanically reads note that says they will restore power when they receive call from Fire Marshall and wishes Scruffy good day.
1240 hrs: Alone in Zeke the pick-up truck, Scruffy marvels at madness of modern society.
1241 hrs: Scruffy calls Beth at Fire Marshall's office again. She suggests that Hugelberg must have local Fire Marshall and forwards Scruffy's call.
1242 hrs: Scruffy is put through to Hugelberg Township building, asks for fire marshall and has call forwarded again.
1243 hrs: Beth at County Fire Marshall answers forwarded call. Scruffy and Beth together marvel at madness of modern society. Beth forwards Scruffy to Fire Marshall Nick.
1244 hrs: Fire Marshall Nick patiently explains to Scruffy in terms and pace designed to educate turnip that he has no jurisdiction in case, that Hugelberg has no fire marshall and suggests Scruffy call local chief, begins looking for chief's number. Scruffy supplies number of Chief Jim. Scruffy thanks Fire Marshall Nick for his time to which Fire Marshall Nick says, "well, I didn't want to just wish you luck and hang up." "Why not?" i ask, "everyone else does."
1250 hrs: Scruffy calls Chief Jim again. Explains whole sad saga in four part harmony and things like that. Chief Jim offers to try and call Peco, possibly just to get rid of Scruffy.
1345 hrs: Bubba, who is out by road in front yard cutting up what's left of original offending oak tree's carcass, calls Scruffy inside house to say that there's a Peco truck out front.
1345...still: Scruffy hunts down Peco guy in neighbor Mike's front yard. Peco guy begins to explain that he cannot turn power on without a call from...without formalities or niceties Scruffy displays work ticket from Independent Underwriter. Peco guy examines ticket and says he'll make some calls.
1400 hrs Thursday, November 2nd, 122 hours after losing power: Power is restored to Elwood Station. There is much rejoicing.


  1. Joanne15/11/11

    Wow, my story just does not compare. But, it has to be shared over a beer or ten, and not recorded where some can be incriminated...

  2. Good times, good times. I think our longest power outage ever (in my current town) was 3 hours. Maybe. If that.

    (Now there was a bad ice storm in college during which we lost power for maybe 18 hours; we were a priority for restoration since dorms are a high-population area; some people then went a week without.)

    And thank goodness for generators.

  3. No doubt Katie. i keep thinking about putting a wind turbine on the station for such occasions, i've been looking into them.

    Three hours? Man, your burg must have its poop together! i've been noticing 'round here that each successive "disaster" keeps getting closer to the actual meaning of the word.