Sunday, 3 March 2019

Blackouts and apocalypses

This week we had an electricity blackout.%% A big one. I was at the mall when alarms started going off; most people ignored them. The local mall has a water leakage issue that constantly sets off the fire alarms and we’ve all heard it before. They should just make a fire engine parking space at the back entrance, but this time seemed different. The supermarket was on quarter lighting, alarms were going off out the back, and the staff rushed about shutting all the fridges and putting away all the deli goods.
This was serious. An announcement said there would be further information but I grabbed my purchases and walked home.
At home, the power shut off as I came in the door.
Then it remained off.
The entire region was out. An estimated 26,000 homes, the traffic lights, the railway station, the local hospital… everything. All we could hear in our front street was ambulance sirens. Later, a friend in the police force said they had all available ambulances ferrying patients to other hospitals.
We have a gas stove, so with the aid of a good old box of matches we could heat water and cook.
But the internet was also affected; all the nodes were down and our phones were useless.
The cause was a fire in a substation basement and the problem was that such fires release toxic chemicals so no one could go in there until it cleared. Plus, no power for fans to clear the mess and no windows to open. It seems like an obvious design fault, but still…
At about 5:30pm we got power back. Kid 3 got a craving for a halal snack pack so we headed off to walk to the local. Amazingly, it was open but it only takes cash and we had none. Trust the ex-refugees to have a cash economy and a generator. All the first responders know this and eat there.
Everything else was dead; the pub, the petrol station, all the ATM machines. A highway patrol officer was directing traffic and had probably been doing it for hours. On our walk, we noticed that none of our neighbours had lights on. Just us and our street. We are close to the hospital and have formed a theory that we are inside its service loop. [at my exercise class everyone else got the power back at 6:30 am the next day]
‘This is how the apocalypse starts’, I said to Kid 3. ‘First the internet goes, then the power, and no-one has any cash. We’ll be reduced to a barter economy.’ We went home and cooked burgers.
I cannot imagine how much food had to be thrown away by the supermarkets.
The electricity supplier is begging people not to turn on high energy using appliances, but of course, it’s on their webpage and nobody can read it. People with power won't bother and people without can't. It’s almost like they don’t understand their own business.

%% this was written on 15th February but when the power DID come back on it fried all the internet nodes. We had no internet for six days, no TV, no games, and no ability to post the blogpost I had written. And then forgotten about. Honestly, my house nearly went feral. I had to go to the library to keep up my 4theWords streak.
So swings and roundabouts I guess. We got power back early but lost the Internet.

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