After maybe one power cut of more than five minutes that I can recall while living in the UK and Ireland for thirteen years, I’ve had two in just over three weeks of living in Westport.
To be sure, the vehemence of the storms has been impressive….at least, that’s what my wife tells me, as I’ve slept through both of them. (Imagine my consternation at being awoken from a late afternoon nap with the wife shaking me, shouting “Quick! There’s a tornado outside! Come with me!”)
But given the volume of broken tree limbs and downed power lines, it’s clear that this wasn’t a run of the mill bit of thunder’n'lightning that happens maybe once or twice a year in Britain. No, here in America, we make our storms like we make our cars: big, noisy, and apt to cause a lot of damage.
All of which leads one to wonder why they don’t put the bloody power lines under ground rather then suspending them precariously from pole to pole. Could it be the level of the water table? Unlikely. The UK and Ireland are both islands, after all, and I don’t recall seeing above ground power lines every which way you look.
To be sure, this manner of distributing power is the norm in Japan. But then again, they have the odd earthquake or two round there, which makes keeping the lines below ground a bit more problematic. I’m assuming that the real answer is “that’s the way we’ve always done it”, and that given current population levels the cost of sinking power lines would just be too prohibitive. Ugh.
In fairness, the electric company did have guys working round the clock to repair downed lines. I know this because some 32 hours after the power first went out, we had a crew chainsawing tree branches and using noisy machinery outside our bedroom window at 3 am.
Hard to imagine Southern Electric or EDF doing that.
Sadly, our phone lines are still screwed up. Oh, we can make outgoing calls just fine. But try to ring our house, and you get cut off before you’re connected. You’d think that AT&T would be able to fix this reasonably promptly…but oh no. They’re strictly a 9-5, 5 days a week crowd round there.
Particularly galling when I rang to report the problem is that they start telling me how much it would cost to fix…$85 for the first half hour, $50 per half hour thereafter. WTF?!?! One might have reasonably thought that repairing a dodgy line two weeks after connection might be a basic tenet of the service, but I am swiftly learning that nothing is free in America.
It’s almost enough to make me miss those lovable rogues at BT….