When the Lights Go Out

Submitted by Nastinia Bailey on March 1, 2012 - 8:32pm
do I live in a community healthy enough to handle the electricity going off for three days?

The electricity was off for 3 hours yesterday and it was a good reminder of how dependent we are on it. The intersections with traffic lights were a mess. I realized I didn't know if the gas boiler furnace would work or not (no as it needs electricity to move the water through the pipes) or the cookstove (yes the burners if lit with a match but not the oven).  We have a woodstove on our main floor so we didn't worry about getting cold but I did wonder if the neighbours would be okay. I'd love to see survey results of how many houses in this city (Waterloo) have the ability generate heat or cook food without electricity. I'm guessing 10% could cook food (gas stoves are not very common) and 2% would have wood or solar heat. What's your guess for your city?

My husband cooked us a lovely Thai chicken and rice meal without electricity (including hot dogs over the fire just for fun) and we invited my parents who live next door to eat with us. We also delivered hot food to the neighbours upstairs who have an electric stove. Just as we sat down to eat the electricity came back on and we all groaned. So, off with the lights, lit a few candles and ate in the waning winter light.

I'm left wondering what we would do if it was off for three days and not three hours. The city provides "warming centres" after the electricity is off for nine hours but what about food for thousands of hungry people who can't cook on their stoves? I'm guessing BBQs would be fired up and chest freezers opened and shared with the neighbours. We could set up a soup kitchen here with pots cooking on our stoves. It's sounding more and more fun! Am I being naive or would it be the best community-building exercise imaginable?