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Blog: The Aftermath of the Storm

Recent power outages in Maryland left people feeling hot, bored, and all together lost without access to the things that we normally utilize constantly.

The recent and unanticipated weather in and around Montgomery County led to a series of events that no one saw coming. The storm, in and of itself, was shocking enough. Although forecasters called for a thunderstorm, not many people were prepared for the magnitude of it. In just a few minutes, trees had fallen everywhere, patio furniture had been blown into the neighbor’s yard, and almost every house, office, restaurant, and building was left without power.

But what was even more surprising than the actual storm and the immediate damage it caused were the events occurring in the days following the storm and what it revealed about our society.

Power outages usually leave people with a feeling of helplessness or boredom because all of the equipment and appliances that we typically utilize on a daily basis are no longer available for use. But normally power is restored within a couple of hours and we all go back to our technology dependent lifestyles. However, the storm that occurred early last week left almost every single home in the area powerless and it was a true test of how long we could all go living the “simple” life. Needless to say, we failed.

Many people quickly shrugged off worries about refrigerators, ovens, microwaves, source of light, and even air conditioning. How will we eat, see each other, and keep cool were all questions that were easily replaced with: How will I charge my phone, watch my Tuesday night shows, and access Facebook?  

As the days went on, our collective reliance on technology became more and more apparent. As soon as one nearby neighborhood got power, friends, family, and acquaintances rushed over to charge their phones and watch TV. Herds of people filled the hallways of the mall to use the outlets and get some internet connectivity. And my twitter feed, along with that of many others, was filled with dramatic and vulnerable tweets such as: SO BORED, can’t live like this, and how did people survive in the olden days?

The madness of the power outages last week made me wonder: How did people survive in days when there was no such thing as power outages because there was no such thing as power? Did they stare at each other in the dark, pace back and forth in a candle lit room, or just collect a ball of dust and kick it across the floor?  How did people survive on an ongoing basis when we couldn’t even survive a few days?

Kids, teens, and adults everywhere were going insane from the heat, boredom, and everything else that came in the aftermath of the storm.  As I often must do when I make observations about society, I admit that I am among the crazed people with a severe technology dependency. The morning after the storm I sat in my car with a portable charger trying to revive my cell phone. And when my power didn’t come back the next day, I took my phone, charger, and computer to a house that did have power to charge them both and catch up on some TV. 

But what does this say about all of us? How long could we have gone without power? My assumption would be not for a second longer than we were forced to considering the very public displays of dissatisfaction with Pepco’s service. Huge banners were hung on the roadside declaring “GET US POWER BACK NOW,” news stations easily found distraught Maryland residents to interview about their lack of electricity, and the Pepco phone lines were backed up for hours with angry and frustrated customers.

It’s safe to say that once power was restored, we were relieved and ecstatic, to say the least. After the agonizing hours upon hours with limited access to internet, television, and cell phones, we all took comfort in knowing that things could go back to how they used to be. But looking back on the whirlwind of events that took place following the storm, I know I’m not the only one who feels slightly disappointed with the extreme behaviors displayed by many of the people who were left without power.

I think that power outages, as inconvenient as they may be, are healthy occurrences every once in a while. And next time one happens, instead of rushing around trying to charge our phones and computers, we should toss them aside for a couple of hours. It couldn’t hurt to take a walk, read a book, pull out an old board game, or just engage in some meaningful conversation. Instead of tweeting about how people managed to survive in the olden days, try doing it. After all, some of our nation’s greatest leaders, inventors, teachers, and philosophers lived in a time when electricity was just a thing of the future.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jeff Denny July 13, 2012 at 01:05 PM
No sweat -- charged the iPad in the car and watched movies. And when I discovered the air conditioning app wasn't real, I built a ducting system of cardboard and duct tape to run cold air from my car to my living room.
Jim Burnetti July 14, 2012 at 12:22 AM
The biggest insult is the fee we must all pay for day one - for PEPCO to NOT deliver electricity to us as our food spoiled.
Laura P July 15, 2012 at 01:48 PM
In the profile picture you look pretty young, that would explain partially why most of your acquaintances were tweeting or faceooking about how bored they were. I was not bored nor panicked for the lack of technology, and like many others adults I was worrying about people who had it harder than me. As for the kids, they probably took it as a game. That tells you a lot about young adults, not the rest of the youger or older population.
Joe Thomas July 17, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Lily I am assuming that you are in high school. Did you and your friends consider driving to Seneca, spreading a blanket riverside, and reading books all day or talking face to face instead of twittering or Facebooking? I ask this because I did and it was very comfortable. By the time I got home (at 7pm) the lower level of the house was cooled off enough to sleep with the windows open. I am also guessing that you go to Q.O. so I wonder if you even know how to get to the river?
Lezlie Crosswhite July 17, 2012 at 05:57 PM
It was a fairly miserable week, but lack of computer and TV was the least of it. I kept busy hauling water to keep my veggie garden alive, keeping up with the batteries/flashlights/candles, reading, knitting, playing board games, and having actual conversations with friends and family. And of course, harrassing Pepco several times a day. We went to bed earlier, got up earlier, and became extremely organized. (There is nothing worse than trying to find some missing vital item in the dark!) I wasn't bored, but I sure was hot!

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