Living Without Electricity and Water

As I mentioned in a previous post, our power went out at 1:15 AM on Sunday. I sleep using a CPAP machine for my sleep apnea. My apnea is bad enough, I awaken shortly after the machine turns off due to a feeling of suffocating. So I knew right away when the power was off long enough to wake me. I checked the time by my cell phone.

The most notable change was how dark the house was! It was also very quiet with nothing running like the fridge. After the power went off, I slept fitfully. And probably noisily! I am a world class snorer without my CPAP; I call it my snorer blower.

By morning the house was cooler and the furnace didn’t come on. 😦 And I knew there was little water in the pressure tank but we had 1000 gallons of water in the storage tanks we could dip out. The wind was still howling around the house but was above freezing. With no internet, I used my cell to text my friends and see what was going on in the world. Lol. We have one princess phone for just these situations; it uses phone line power to operate, not outlet electricity like our cordless phones.

We used to have lots of short outages but the power has gotten more reliable so we haven’t gotten a generator. I kept trying to call the REA but the line was always busy. When I finally connected, I learned that a pole on the high voltage line had snapped! Up in the Wet Mountains in “rugged country”. And it may take days to repair. My estimate, from my days working in a powerplant was two days. Assuming there were no setbacks like rolling a truck off a cliff!

The map has some information in the IPTC which is part of the image that won’t let me crop the map!

Here is a map/image of the Wet Mountains. The powerplant is in Cañon City at the top right and somehow power gets to Westcliffe on the lower middle (A and H) at the intersection of CO69 and CO96. The power lines do not follow CO96 because the summit of the pass is too rugged. The road past G on it is Copper Gulch Road to our place; it doesn’t come down that way either. I suspect (Satellite images don’t show powerlines.) it parallels Oak Creek Grade from south Cañon to the east side of Westcliffe (the diagonal road across the mountains) . Then the powerline runs up Copper Gulch road NE of Westcliffe and ends at our neighborhood.

So both towns, Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, were also without power! I am sure all the stores were closed as well as the school.

Until then, I had hoped for electricity by nightfall. Wasn’t gonna happen. So we went to plan B. I brought over the Coleman lantern which hadn’t been used for many years. It had hung from the rafters of what we call the Shelter, a semienclosed porch on one of our cabins one of us used to live in. The cabin is now Donna’s sewing/hobby room. I wasn’t sure it would even work but did still have fuel in it (It is a two mantle, gasoline model). And I found the half full can of fuel!

We could cook on the stovetop if we manually lit the burners. They could also be used to help heat the house. We also heated any water on the stovetop, both for coffee/tea and for washing. The longer the outage went on, the more things we used to use in the “good, old days” were put back in service. One thing Donna really missed was running water. I was content with using hand sanitizer but she wanted to wash her hands. So our “handwashing station” was set up.

This is a 7 gallon container and works quite well. This is our third container since we have been coming up here. When it was outdoors, the water just ran on the ground but that isn’t a good plan indoors!

This is a flash picture of Donna “cooking” dinner. She is actually gonna heat the two containers on the left of chili she had made before the outage. This is what it actually looked like without the flash.

After dinner we played rummy at the kitchen table by lantern light! Kind of romantic!

Monday night I went to my School Board meeting (where they had lights and heat!) leaving Donna in the dark. My next post will be about that meeting and the evening afterward.

Our Weekend Winds

Our weekend was set by the terrific winds we had. The forecast was 50 MPH on Saturday and 55 MPH on Sunday. I feel sure they achieved that! This is the strongest sustained winds I can recall. Our damage was less than it could be, some roofing that needed replacing anyway ending up in the yard. The Air Force Academy in the Springs recorded 89 MPH winds!

None of our trees were blown over either; the neighbor across the street had two tall trees near their house get uprooted. Fortunately they fell away from the house!

This tree is on the neighboring lot south of us. This apparently healthy tree blew over into the road. I go this way to our mailbox and nearly ran into it because I was looking at a nearby dead tree which had blown over!

I am sure the roots have become weakened from the years of drought we have enjoyed.

Other wind events include blowing our dumpster and parcel box over.

These are at the end of our drive along our “street”.

I tried to right the dumpster but learned this is one heavy box! Lol. I put the trash in it lying down; it was on its “face”. I just hoped coyotes or dogs wouldn’t pull a lid open and spread our trash around. (They didn’t.)

I was most surprised to see the parcel box, with all three concrete blocks, laying on its side. I had to disassemble them to set it back upright. The trees blocked a lot of the wind from our house but our driveway works like a wind tunnel for west winds.

Our power was going on and off Saturday evening as we went to bed but came back on every time. I am sure this was due to powerlines swinging into each other. I recall watching this one night when I lived in the Springs; I stayed up a while watching the big orange fireballs from the arcs!

But at 1:30 AM Sunday, the power went off and stayed. So we were left powerless until 10:30 Monday night; no internet, lights, furnace, or water. We knew how to set things for living like pioneers from our days before we had a house! Kinda like camping in a house! I will give the details in another blog entry.