Thursday, 10 December 2015

I'd have been better off on a boat

Lancaster made the news earlier this week following a spot of rain over the weekend. Things were nowhere near as bad as places further north, with flooding confined to low-lying parts of the city centre but what did make the news was the complete loss of electric power for up to three days and nights.
The power first went off late on Saturday night when the rising waters of the River Lune overtopped the flood defences and inundated the sub-station that controls the supply to 55,000 homes in Lancaster, Morecambe and surrounding villages. Hilary and I had been at a concert in the Priory church in the city centre, but as our route home didn't take us past the affected areas we were unaware of the problem until we reached the roundabout on the edge of the centre where police were stopping all traffic from going in to the city.
It was shortly after we got home that the power went off. Although we had a plentiful supply of candles and tea-lights (relics of our days aboard Starcross) we thought we might as well turn in for the night.
We were mildly surprised to find the power still off in the morning. First thought was to turn on the local radio for more information. But the bedside set runs off the mains. As does the one in the spare bedroom and all three we have downstairs and of course the telly does too. Eventually we found a little portable in the shed so we could find out what was going on. Except that the transmitter that supplies our BBC local radio was off the air due to lack of power whilst the commercial station's studios were under water so they weren't broadcasting either.
To the Internet then! Except that the modem was off of course, so no wifi or broadband. Neither was there any mobile internet signal for the same reason there was no local radio.
Old-fashioned telephones keep working during power cuts (although I never understood why) but modern ones, with answering machines and hands-free extensions require power. Mobile phones had no signal due to the lack of power to the masts!

Never have I felt so cut off although I did have to laugh at later press reports of young people queuing  outside 'phone boxes in town with some having to be shown how to use them!
Just to complete the picture, when the power's off your central heating boiler closes down, even if it is a gas one and modern gas cookers need electricity too.

I couldn't help but think that on Starcross we would have been almost completely unaffected with battery power, a coal-fired stove, battery radios and if we wanted a phone or internet signal we could have just untied and moved until we found one. So much for the comforts of a house.

xx But don't feel too sorry for us. We had actually already planned to be away for a few days and we were even lucky that we lived along the only road out of town still open on Sunday morning. So we missed all the fun and returned on Tuesday evening, by which time the power was back on, albeit only due to a bloody great generator (one of 60 throughout the District) on the back of a lorry thrumming merrily away 24/7 in the next street, which is still there as I write.


Sue said...

Gosh Jim.. Glad it worked out OK for you. I feel so sorry for all those people that were flooded out..

Mark Doran said...

I laughed at hearing that young people had to be shown how to use ordinary public telephones. Wonderful!