Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Money Can't Buy Everything...

...especially when the everything is simple old everyday electricity. Despite their vaunted deep pockets, nearly half the population of our town (40%) went juiceless for much of Labor Day weekend. Rarely if ever have I seen such sustained high easterly winds and rains as we suffered on Saturday; they were utterly relentless and nerve-wringing. As radio reports of power outages in CT went from a few hundred to tens of thousands over the course of the afternoon, I hunkered down with a stack of proofreading, snug and smug and comfy in my power-ful status. Until, of course, my turn came....

It was maddening to look out the front windows and see buildings a block away ablaze with light, while my neighborhood was pitch-black. The reason, I surmise, is that the next street over is on the same power grid as the hospital, and thus it usually the last to go out and the first to be restored. Makes sense, I guess.

But the rest of the pattern seems pretty helter-skelter. Since this town, which is famous for burying its head in the sand, refuses to do the same with its electrical cables, or, alternatively, to prune regularly the multitude of roadside trees, we have these events on a fairly predictable schedule of several times a year. A severe ice storm last January, a tornado in July, and now this hurricane remnant in September: one wonders what the total cost all these days of powerlessness must come to in a town like this. Some people were out for nearly a week last winter, and some for four days thus far in the present event. I suppose that at least a few households in town are now pushing two weeks out of 35 so far in 2006 without heat, hot water, refrigeration, or Internet access. For this we pay Greenwich taxes?!

Just to give you an idea of the power - oops, let's say "fury" - of the storm, at least eight local yacht owners now have to paddle their canoes instead. Their large luxury ocean-going floating condos are floating no more, but lie smashed and broken high above sea level on the rocks of the Belle Haven peninsula, carried thither by that driving, pitiless and incessant east wind of which I spoke. I took some pics of these wrecks from the ferry yesterday, and if I can get my friend the author babe to help, maybe I'll post some of them here for y'all to see. Interestingly, the smaller boats (less than 30-40 feet) rode out the storm at their moorings, while the sheer size and mass of the behemoths made them choice targets for nature's raw muscle and Newton's inexorable laws of physics. There's probably a philosophical lesson here of some sort....

My friend the Reader's Digest editor, who lives in my old neighborhood at the other end of town, was still darkling when I last spoke with him, and I think was beginning to tire of my daily calls to check on his status and to offer sympathy. Can't say I blame him; the radio today quoted another citizen as saying that after the first day or two, the adventure of camping out and living by flashlight gets pretty old. Somehow, it seems that the length of time it takes to repair these outages is much longer than it used to be, and one begins to wonder if the United States is not sinking into the mire of a third-world existence. Our train service is execrable, our airline service is like that of the former Soviet Union, and our infrastructure is rotting out from under us. Has the sun begun to set on the American empire? Stay tuned for the next installment, which will examine some of the questions Mr. Gibbon might raise if he were still scribbling today....

1 Comments:

Blogger saraclaradara said...

"Author babe" - I like it!

I want to see those pics of the Yachts - gives a whole other meaning to "I've have mine on the rocks"....

September 05, 2006 8:37 PM  

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