Hurricane IKE makes experts of us all
We are going on day ten of no power here in lovely Tomball Texas. Luckily the weather has mostly cooperated, the generator is working, and the water well is hooked up; and of course, Texans being the self-reliant folks that we are, are helping out our neighbors in any way that we can. The major concerns are mosquitoes (lots of them, some the size of my dog) and no trash pickup.
I’ve noticed that many experts have bloomed in the aftermath of the hurricane: experts on generators, the timing of the repair of the electrical network, the weather (we always have experts on the weather), beard growth (reference picture of my son and mine 8 days growths after the jump), grilling all the stuff you’ve had to salvage out of the fridge and freezer, and experts on scrounging needed materials. It is definitely creating experts in survival…in our “normal lives”, we don’t have to take action every day to ensure we have the basics of food, shelter, DSL, coffee and cold beer…but without the grid, we have to work at it everyday.
Going to the hardware store is a wonderful experience in observing expert creation in action. All ones needs to do is hang out on the electrical aisle, preferably where they keep the plugs required by all generators (NEAM 14-30P for 220 volt, 30 amp, he says like an expert) to hear people creating solutions on the fly, asking strangers (who may or may not already be experts) for advice and know how.
I had the normal spaghetti works of extension cords all through the house, power fridges, coffee makers, fans, computers and DSL routers. My friend Kenny (who does qualify in my book as an expert) advised me on a method to connect the 220 volt outlet from the generator to the 220V outlet for the dryer plug in my house. By shutting on the main breaker (separating my house from the power grid), I could thus put the 5500 KV capacity of my trusty generator all over my house. It won’t run AC’s, and struggles when my water well pump kicks in, but it keeps the above require devices plus most plugs, lights and ceiling fans.
I modified the Kenny design to include a female dryer plug (see lovely picture) and nailed down the connection to a board to create a Y-connection. This allows me to connect either my dryer or the house (or most of the house) to the generator. We’ve run the dryer, and it was the only thing the generator can run. Yes, I know, I definitely need to work on the safety aspect. Kudos for Kenny for providing both education and beer drinking expertise.
In our neighborhood, because the 10-15 trees are still down in front of it on top of the power lines, we are settling in with low expectations for the resumption of civilization. No one (especially not Centerpoint Energy) is yet an expert on predicting when the power will come back.