Storm a reminder of fragility of our utilities


The worst storms around these parts seem to be the ones that receive little to no attention beforehand.

While in no way is this piece intended to make light of the dire situations seen in Puerto Rico, Houston, Florida or any of the dozens of island nations and communities who have been affected by surging hurricanes in the past couple of months, we can’t help but point out how harmless those storms have been to Rhode Islanders, comparative to the mass media coverage that they received leading up to their ultimate dispersal.

Meanwhile, a random and sparsely-covered storm cell surged through the area Sunday night and knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of people in New England, as if just to remind us that although we might be spared a wallop from a hurricane, Mother Nature can hit us with a haymaker whenever she wants, and with little reason or warning beforehand.

This storm just so happened to fall on the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which killed 182 people and caused over $70 billion in damage.

Luckily, this most recent storm was only powerful and not titanic. Still, it uprooted giant trees and provided a good number of Rhode Island residents with the worst case of the Mondays since the macroburst hit in the summer of 2015 – those unfortunate souls who opened the door to another week of work only to find that their commute had been complicated due to their car being crushed by a felled tree.

Thankfully, there have been no reports of fatalities as of press time. Power is being proactively restored to those who have lost it, and a full recovery should be achieved within a couple of days.

In a sense, it is an incredible testament to our advancement as a civilization that such a storm can be remedied so quickly. It can throw branches and leaves and even trees every which way, littering the roads with debris. It can take down power lines and make people bring out the oil lamps and board games for a night – which for some is almost like an impromptu and fun vacation from modern day electricity.

In just a week or so, the debris will all be cleaned up, the power will long be back on and we’ll all have forgotten about this storm and moved onto the next piece of news. It should serve as a reminder of how blissfully ignorant we keep ourselves about the fragile network of power that surrounds and fuels our society. It can be taken down by something as simple as wind and can only be restored through the hard work of thousands of utility workers.

Unlike the macroburst a couple years ago, each state has their own share of problems to deal with, so there will be no conjoining of National Grid workers to team up and battle one state’s inordinate problem. For this reason, it might take a little longer than we may have become accustomed to in order to get the power – and the wi-fi – up and operational again.

In the meantime, be careful on the roadways – some traffic signals might not be working properly – and keep an eye out for weakened tree limbs from the strong winds. When waiting for your power to come back, patience is the truest virtue.

The important thing is that your power will be restored. Cars and houses can be fixed or reimbursed through insurance. If you’re reading this editorial by candlelight tomorrow, just consider it an immersive, hyper-realistic virtual reality experience of what life was like a couple hundred years ago.


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