Enjoy the latest press release from Jackson Purchase Energy here. Of their 30,000 customers, 22,000 continue without electricity. I found this section of the release particularly alarming:
Those customers with service lines that have been pulled from their home will need to contact an electrician before JPEC can restore power. Customers should also check with their electrician as to what equipment will be needed from JPEC such as new meters, etc. A complete list of equipment needed from JPEC by your electrician will expedite service at JPEC. To further help getting customers and electricians meter bases and hubs, JPEC’s corporate office will be open from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. today and on Sunday.
I'll leave it to you to do the math on how easily any one of us without power can locate or secure the services of an electrician (or even make a phone call) at this time as well as imagine just how many of us have had power lines that have been "pulled from our home" considering the amount and magnitude of the branches that have fallen. So, yah, after our handy electrician shows up and we type up our neat little lists, I'd say conservatively maybe 10,000 of them, we'll just be getting our power back! Yay!
I've no doubt that the utility is overwhelmed, however, this doesn't seem the time, after many have endured 5 days without power in freezing temperatures, to start putting out chirpy little releases about "calling your electrician" and "making lists". This would seem the time to call in more reinforcements, FEMA, etc. to do what it takes. As difficult and as enormous as the task must seem, it is what it is.
I remain without power and made contact with my more rurally located relatives just last night. At that time, all but one was without electricity (and there are lots of them). Now today, one more cousin has had service restored.
The miraculous appearance of the kerosene heater provided by our generous neighbors yesterday brought into sharp focus the immediate need for kerosene. And thus began yesterday's odyssey.
First, an aside: I've amused myself by likening my situation to some of my favorite movies since this nightmare began, the first of which that sprang to mind was Gone With the Wind, since the destruction immediately after the storm reminded me of scenes of Sherman's march to the sea through the Atlanta countryside. Like Tara, my house is still here (It's still there!). Once the thrill of just having a roof over my head that ISN'T demolished (and some in my family are not so lucky) wore off, I began drawing immediate parallels to Dr. Zhivago and Yuri and Lara's winter in Siberia--remember? How Yuri would brush the snow off his tablet--indoors at his desk--so he could write his poems? Yah. I felt that cold.
Yesterday, however, I think I settled on what will turn out to be the true movie parallel--the old Mad Max movie series. If you're unfamiliar, it's a sci-fi trilogy of films about a post-apocalyptic world where rag tag bunches of survivors (including Mel Gibson) scour the desert-like country side in pieced together jalopies in search of but one thing: fuel.
Yesterday? I was Beyond Thunderdome.
Once I realized the crucial need for kerosene to maintain the cozy warmth my Mom and stepdad had only begun to enjoy, I soon realized there wasn't any to be had in Paducah, nor in the surrounding counties or cities. I was told by an authority that the closest such fuel was in Rosiclaire, IL or Paris, TN. I elected to go north and now realizing just how widespread the shortage was, immediately took to the interstate. My first stop, Marion, IL proved to be fruitless and I was told my best bet was Mt. Vernon (a customer in Marion told me there wasn't kerosene to be had south at all for at least 150 miles). I pressed on toward the kerosene Shamgri La a full 100 miles away from Paducah, enjoying a delightful conversation with my Grandmother on the way on my cell phone which immediately sprang to life once I cleared the disaster zone by about 20 miles or so. Grandma lives in the So. Illinois countryside and I was passing so close to her house that I had to call.
You may be wondering by now why we didn't just all load up and escape Paducah all together. It is certainly possible. What makes this difficult are the furry members of the family. Isabelle and Tallulah and Mom's dog, Dudley, are a bit difficult to just load in the car and go, though we've considered it, believe me. I can't imagine the heartbreak of the Katrina victims who were forced to choose to leave their pets behind. It's a choice I'm not sure I could make. My fur babies have never left my side since their adoptions, I am compelled to show them the same courtesy. It hasn't been a question, really.
In any case, I reached Mt. Vernon without incident but then embarked on a wild goose chase being directed to first one service station, then another, that didn't actually sell kerosene. Station number five was remote and lucky and when the answer was "yes" to my query about kerosene, I was almost disbelieving. Not being a mountain girl or having lived a second of my life off the grid, my next dilemma was, where is it? Looking at me like I was crazy, the attendant pointed to a tiny gas tank, identical to the others but much smaller. This, then, was the elusive kerosene dispenser. I had become so intent on locating the stuff, that I'd forgotten to stop and secure containers in which to transport it. I bought the two gallon gas cans they had on hand, filled them, then located a nearby Auto Zone and bought two five gallon containers and filled those. Thus loaded with twelve gallons of liquid gold (I began to refer to myself as "Sparky"), I headed to the nearest Kroger where I was amazed to find life continuing as per usual. I was overwhelmed by normalcy and choices, but managed to have the presence of mind to stock up on candles and instant coffee and food that doesn't require cooking.
It was eerie to return to Paducah after dark; the exits lit up like Christmas trees but the neighborhoods still silent and mostly shrouded in darkness. We're experiencing a warming trend, thank God, and this caused thick fog to rise from the devastated landscape of my neighborhood as I drove my precious cargo into the driveway. Because it's me, I had to shut off the car and stare into the ghostly fog and think for a moment of another movie: Beware the moors.
And then I unloaded my car.