Chris Graham: Lessons to be learned from the power outages
The worst thing that could happen now that we all have power (fingers crossed as I type those words, what with more storms on the way this week, and all) would be that we’d move on with our lives and not learn anything from this experience.
And I’m not referring here to what we’ve all been experiencing individually. The last thing that I’m going to do is wax poetic about how people 20 and 50 and 100 and 200 years ago seemed to manage without Facebook or central air or electricity itself.
The people who have been pontificating about that have done so almost entirely using a computer, the Internet and likely some access to some sort of air conditioning.
Enough with that backward thinking. Looking forward …
- Bury the lines. That should be plain and simple. It will also, of course, be quite costly, but I think we’d all agree that burying power lines underground seems to make the most sense as a preventative measure. Try as we might, we’ll never be able to maintain above-ground infrastructure in any kind of meaningful way to prevent lengthy, widespread power outages from being an issue.
- Improved weather-alert systems. A key point of focus, to me, needs to be on the language used in severe-weather alerts. I’m a bit of a weather junkie, to the point that whenever there’s even a possibility of bad weather on the horizon, I’m checking the radars and alerts and whatever else is available to get a sense of what might be forthcoming. Too often, the alerts give us pause by warning us of the possibility of 60-mph winds and hail that only very rarely actually arrives. This creates a bit of a boy-crying-wolf scenario. The alerts issued in the minutes leading up to the June 29 derecho warned us of the possibility of strong winds. That we’d been told this so many times already this summer with little or nothing to show for the warnings desensitized us and may have also desensitized emergency planners from having resources in place to do something.
- Backups. A lot of us went out and bought generators that should come in handy with the next emergency scenario. I’m looking into what I can do in terms of installing a solar-energy system in my home to try to have a cleaner and more self-sustaining backup at my disposal. If we had one thing in abundance this past week, it was plenty of solar energy, or so goes my thinking.