Saturday, December 29, 2012

Blizzard of '12

So my power has been off since Christmas day. Blizzard of '12 hit Arkansas hard. Over 180k homes lost power. My whole neighborhood was restored a couple of days ago, but the houses on my side of the street and the even side of the street behind me are on a different line. My next door neighbors meter loop was pulled off the house by very tall bushes they refuse to cut and I don't have the legal right to cut. That was the only reason our power was still off. My neighbor 2 houses down pointed that out to me today (Saturday) about 4pm. He informed me that he had called Entergy (our power company) 3-4 times each day. He also told me that he had contacted his city councilman a number of times. I went directly looking for an Entergy supervisor. They drive white Chevy Colorado pick-ups with the Entergy logo on the door. Pretty easy to spot. I found one and chased him for 6 blocks. Once I chased him down, I explained the situation with as much detail as I could. Gave him addresses and exactly which pole fed our line. Pointed out the fusible link that was blown. I checked back on my house around 6pm and found power was back on. Sort of. My lights were dim and the heaters weren't running. There was a funny electric odor in the home. If you have ever smelt that specific odor, when some electronic thing died, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. I started unhooking heaters. Each heater unhooked made the lights brighter. After all heaters were unhooked, I decided to check the voltage in my home. I used my trusty volt meter (thanks Mandy for keeping me in 9 volt batteries) to check the voltage at one outlet... 103 volts. that should read 110-124 volts. So I got a serious low voltage problem. I thought maybe the power company didn't unhook the neighbors downed meter loop from the line. I ran out and found the crew that had done the work. They acted like they had no idea what I was talking about. Said they were from North Carolina and didn't know what Entergy was up to. I went back to my home and thought for a minute. I decided that the compressor on the refrigerator would burn up at that voltage so I unplugged it. For some reason I checked the voltage again and it was 116 volts. That's almost normal. Then I realized there was a significant problem with my power connection. After a few minutes of thought, I found a good flashlight and check the power pole in my back yard. While unhooking the neighbors downed meter loop, the Entergy contractors had knocked one of my power lines loose. Anchor and all. Since it was the neutral leg, and my nearly new meter loop meets current electrical code (neutral leg bridges to ground leg) I had some low voltage power. The electrical ground being sunk deep into water saturated earth was completing an electrical circuit and allowing power to flow. Thing is, the ground wire was far too thin to carry 200 amps of electricity. That created a situation where the ground wire was heating up and very near to burning my house down, thus the electrical smell in the home. I figured it out just in time and cut all the breakers, including the main breaker. Now, here it is a few hours later and I've been drinking and thinking (thanks for the 6 pack Allison). My neighbor 2 doors down mentioned calling his City Councilman about this problem. Wait a second, Code Enforcement knocks on my door every 3 months or so saying a City Councilman complained about something (grass too tall, wrecked vehicle, color of paint on the house...). After some thought, while heading to get another pack of smokes, I realized this prick 2 doors down has caused all of my problems with code enforcement for nearly 5 years!!! Damn. Now he has electricity and I still don't!!! WTF!!! The seriously f'd thing is, if this man came to me tomorrow, even tho I still don't have power, and told me his family was hungry because he couldn't find the money to feed them. I would take what little food I have left in my pantry, to feed my wife and 3 kids, and give it too him. Then I would tell him if it wasn't enough let me know and I would do what I could. Everyone that knows me personally, knows I would do exactly that. So what do I do now? This man has come very close to causing my family to be homeless more than once! I have no idea how to handle this right now.

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