Joe’s Journal

Bad news, good news

Posted:  Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 11:00am

Old timers, and some not so old, like to grouse about the changes happening in our little towns. They seem to pine for the “good old days.” Last week, they got their wish.

Starting late last Sunday, Oct. 29, Mother Nature whipped up a storm that flooded my rain gauge and ripped large trees right out of the ground. Many of the trees fell on power lines. In seconds, we were back in the “good old days,” as our friends and neighbors lost power.

Overnight, Mother Nature launched a "bundled" attack on our expensive "bundled" communication services including cable TV, telephone land lines, and internet service.

No power means our furnace stopped working. Thankfully, it was not too cold outside.

At our home, and the homes of lots of our friends, no electricity means no hot water. While we groused about having to wash and shave with cold water, lots of our friends had no water at all. No power means no juice to run the well.

Cable TV service vanished as the large black boxes we stare at every night were blank.

Sorry, no soap operas, no “NCIS,” no Monday night NFL football, no PBS, no news programs and, thankfully, no chattering pundits telling us what to think. For almost a week, we had to make do without knowing the latest details of the Russian investigation, the Congressional budget package, and the antics of the rest of the Washington follies.

Initially, we stared at our smartphones, but in an hour or so, they ran out of juice. Without power, you couldn’t plug your phone in. No charge, no smartphone.

Sorry, Facebook and Twitter, we were AWOL.

With no smartphone and landline, we couldn’t call Central Maine Power to find out when they expected our electricity to return. If we had, they would have just said it would return “later.” With some 400,000 customers offline, they were a bit busy.

So what to do? Those smart enough to have generators woke up to the hum of their own little power plants. The rest of us just uttered some words we haven’t used in a while, then fumbled down the basement stairs to grab the camp lanterns and tried to locate the flashlights and spare batteries.

On Monday, for some reason, many of the businesses we depend upon came back online.

We could get gas for the car, bread and lunch meat for sandwiches, and carry out meals, but it didn’t take long for us to realize that the fridge could no longer preserve the leftovers we planned to have for dinner.

After a day or so without power, we started to clean out the fridge and haul the stuff to the dump. No one wants to add food poisoning to the list of things that were going wrong.

When the sun went down, we sat in the dark and talked to each other, mostly about how we were tired of sitting in the dark. Reading with those tiny flashlights strapped to your head quickly got old. We went to bed early.

Now for the good news.

When the power went off, we soon heard the snarl of chainsaws as neighbors started to help neighbors. Volunteers started clearing the roads and there was a parade of gawkers circling Ocean Point to watch the surf.

We were saddened to note that the spot called “three trees,” the familiar place where worshipers gather to celebrate Easter sunrise services and lovers meet was now “two trees.”

Volunteers got to work, community organizations organized, long faces turned to smiles as folks pitched in to help each other. Dozens of utility crews went to work and for most of us, the lights came back on.

I do not intend to set out a long list of all the good folks who helped their friends and neighbors. They did it because it was the right thing to do, not because they thought they would earn a pat on the back in the newspaper. Thanks to all.

I will mention Paul Coulombe, who has come under a lot of criticism from folks who blame him for everything but global warming.

Last week, he opened his upscale Boothbay Harbor Oceanside Golf resort to neighbors who had no heat and no power. While the restaurant was closed for the season, the rest of the old Rocktide had power and 75 empty rooms. He invited neighbors, their kids, and their pets to stay for free until their power came back on. When Mother Nature shuts off the power, it is hard to beat a free night in a posh hotel featuring a hot shower and a warm bed. Thanks, Paul.