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Hope you are safe and warm

Posted by Rona Fischman December 15, 2008 03:22 PM

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The ice storm on Thursday night was the worst since 1990. I wish a quick recovery to everyone in the path of this storm.

Where I lived it poured, it was windy, but it didnít all freeze until later. I drove on Thursday night. I drove on Friday morning. I had power and heat at home. This weekend I saw some damp basements, including my own. I saw sump pumps running, including my own. I saw sump pump run-off freezing on the sidewalks and streets, including my own. I got off lucky.

In my memory, black-outs, snow and flooding became an opportunity for neighbors to band together. City dwellers (and some suburbanites) have strength in numbers. When power is out or streets are impassible, neighbors find neighbors. As a child, blackouts meant ice cream binges. Barbeques were fired up to save the meat. Neighbors with gas stoves cooked other perishables, those with candles and extra blankets shared them, and the neighbors with camp heaters housed the little children overnight. During the flood after a hurricane, my father ran important errands in his truck. To the kids, disaster meant no school. It was a party. I think the grown-ups had a fairly good time, too.

In my life, I have been lucky. I know no one who has been badly hurt or killed by foul weather. The multi-day electricity outages occurred outside of very cold weather, local flooding never swamped our heating system or caused structural problems, the heat outages lasted less than a week and caused no broken pipes. I have done my share of wet-vac basement clean-up, shoveling snow, knocking ice off branches, packing food into coolers (to animal-proof it) then leaving it outside, doing without phone, light, television and internet.

When the weather turns frightful, what is a homeowner to do? What do you do?

My friends in Maine and New Hampshire are so much more prepared than I am. They say: install a generator; use a fireplace, pellet stove, or wood stove. They say: live in one room for the duration; it will be a mess, but everyone can stay warm.

Their advice is to not depend on the grid. Are my friends right? Should every home be ready for power failure?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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