September 8th, 2017
The following article appeared in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette in September of 2001.
Dealing with power loss
By Donna Boynton TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
WORCESTER — Leslie Dean has seen a lot of storms — the Blizzard of ’78, Hurricane Gloria, Hurricane Bob, the Ice Storm of 2008 — but he’s never seen his back porch lights dark for so many days.
“Out of all the storms we’ve had, we’ve never been without power this long,” said Mr. Dean, who lives here with his wife, June, and son Leslie Dean Jr.
“The hardest thing has been taking a cold shower. We’ve just got to take the storm as it was. You’ve just got to bear with it.”
Mr. Dean and his Rural Street neighbors lost power on Sunday morning, and power crews — contractors Grattan Line Construction of Billerica — arrived yesterday afternoon to restore power. Rural Street residents were among the 1,468 National Grid customers in Worcester yesterday afternoon who remained without power for a fourth day following Tropical Storm Irene.
Mr. Dean has been going to the gas station daily for $20 worth of gas — about 5 gallons — to fuel two generators to keep power to a refrigerator in his house and a neighbor’s freezer in the garage.
“You can’t live without power … and you’ve got to have a generator if you live in New England,” Mr. Dean said, leaning against his truck as one of the generators rumbled in the background. “You can’t do anything after dark, so we’ve been going to bed early.”
Orange extension cords snaked from inside his home, along his pool fence to the generator, and more weaved through his yard to the garage.
“My pool is full of leaves. I’ve taken out some of it with the net, but I’d rather have power to the refrigerator to save the food than to filter the pool,” Mr. Dean said.
He and his son have been sharing their generator with an elderly neighbor for a few hours a day to keep her refrigerator cool, and then stocking it with ice to maintain the temperature.
“I’ve been eating peanut butter, tuna fish and anything else that comes in a can,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified, as she spoke through an open screen. “And there’s no such thing as a hot shower — only a cold wash-up!”
The woman has been passing the days and some of the nights reading by flashlight and listening to the radio.
“You can’t really do anything else. I can’t clean, I have coolers on my kitchen floor,” the woman said. “I feel sick. It definitely wears on you.”
The younger Mr. Dean and neighbor Alex Dasilva and Mr. Dasilva’s 5-year-old daughter Maria watched a Grattan utility crew work on the lines.
“Even though it’s been four days (since we’ve had electricity), I still walk into a room and flip the switch, but there is still no power there,” the younger Mr. Davis said.
Mr. Dasilva had thrown away an estimated $200 in food. As his daughter clutched a doll, Mr. Dasilva said he and some family members have been staying at their powerless home during the day and staying at a relative’s house at night to shower and eat a hot meal.
“During the day we’ve just been eating doughnuts and sandwiches,” Mr. Dasilva said. “You can only eat so many doughnuts.”
As the Dean men spoke, at the foot of Rural Street, a utility worker approached saying power was about to be switched on. Across the street, a man in a bucket truck worked above the street.
“Great! I am so sick of listening to that thing,” the younger Mr. Davis said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder to the generator.
In an instant, Mr. Dean’s back porch and patio lights flickered on and his son let out a cheer.
“Now the fun part is wrapping up all these cords,” Mr. Dean said, pointing to the hundreds of feet of tangled extension cords.
As he started to walk toward the generators, he turned to the utility crew and shouted, “Thanks, guys!”