Electricity and the Wellington storm

Sometimes, little things are sent to try us, and last Thursday evening, we lost electricity, and it stayed lost for 49 hrs. Of course, some people had it a lot worse, and they will have lost it for over a week. The reason: a storm. The wind speed hit 200 kilometers per hour for about 12 hours, or 120 miles per hour, and it was cold. It then dropped wind speed to a more normal storm, but continued with even more intense driving rain. I saw trees with a diameter of over two meters blown over, and what happened next depended on where they landed. The bottom of the South Island got over a meter of snow; we only got driving rain, but we got it somewhat faster. Some of the reasons for widespread power losses were fairly obvious, such as trees being blown over, and sometimes snapping power posts. Other reasons were somewhat bizarre, the most frequent bizarre reason being trampolines lifted up and smashing into lines. We had only mild problems compared with some who had roofs lifted off, or trees smashing into houses. One problem for me was vegetation clogging our spouting, which led to a garage inundation, and the second was we have to pump our water into a header tank. I left it for a while and slept off the worst of the storm, but then I still had to get up on the roof with winds now (guess) a mere 120 kph and worse driving rain to, paradoxically, fill the header tank with water, and get the worst of the vegetation out of the spouting. If nothing else, I tested my wet weather gear.

 What it also did was to remind me exactly how dependent we have become on electricity. Our house uses only electricity to cook, to heat, to pump water, and of course, for entertainment and to connect with the outside world. No electricity, no blog! Of course one could cook as one does camping, but cooking outside in that wind and rain was somehow unattractive. Fortunately, we keep plenty of food that can be eaten cold, in case of earthquake damage.

 The storm did more damage. The rail line connecting the Hutt Valley (where I live) and Wellington runs along the harbour, and the waves managed to erode out sections of the rocks underneath the rail lines. In some places, the rail lines were crossing an area, supported only by air. The net result now is that commuter trains cannot operate, and the road system is hopelessly overloaded. The South coast was hit by 15 meter high waves, which threw rocks almost as big as small cars over the coastal road, tearing up footpaths, roads, etc, and smashing a lot of property.

So, what did I learn? Mostly, how connected I am with the rest of the world. It is only when there is no internet that you get to realize how much it has influenced your life. It also meant I had to stop writing. Perhaps that was not the worst thing in the world, because that forced me to think. (Somehow, I found thinking by candlelight more productive than usual. I have no idea why.) So, what will come from that? It gave me time to reflect on the two books I am currently in a copy edit stage. Hopefully, this will lead to improvements.



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