The night the lights went out at our house

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 3, 2006

Have you ever noticed how quiet your house gets when the power goes out?

I did on Tuesday morning.

I awoke sometime during the night n couldn’t tell because both digital clocks in the bedroom were flashing 12:00. I wasn’t too concerned. It wouldn’t have been the first time the power had gone off and then back on due to a storm in the area n and I slept through it.

Email newsletter signup

So, I laid my head back down on the pillow n what there was left after the dog had moved onto it n and returned to slumber land.

About 5:30 that morning my wife got up and let the dogs out. Not long after that I heard what sounded like a Banshee. When I finally got my wits about me I realized it was the air conditioning unit in the backyard shutting down.

It was then I realized the power was completely off.

I went downstairs to investigate.

As I hit the bottom landing of the steps I looked out through the window in the front door and saw a police car in front of the house.

I surmised at that point that somebody had struck a power box with their car and sent the neighborhood into darkness.

I pulled on some clothes and went outside to meet my wife, a few neighbors and the police officer.

What I discovered was the policeman was there because the neighbor’s car had been broken into and some items stolen. I also quickly learned that my house was the only one that had inexplicably plunged into darkness.

After a few moments with the folks outside, I went back in and called the toll-free number for the power company.

I spent a few minutes conversing with a computer n I say conversing, but I was actually only entering numbers into my cell phone as instructed.

By now it was somewhere around 6 a.m.

Martha and I then retired to the comfort of our living room n no lights, no air conditioning and, of course, no coffee.

Because we knew nobody would respond to our call for help until at least around 8, I went out for the latter.

About 8:15 a man from Dominion Power arrived. He identified himself as Mark and proceeded to run down my problem. All along I assumed it was the A/C unit giving up the ghost and throwing a switch somewhere outside. I had reset everything inside.

He told us after a brief inspection that the underground line had died and we had no power coming into the home.

He called for another crew n two guys named Cecil and Rudolph n who came by, verified Mark’s assessment and set about laying a temporary line. That would at least get us back on the power grid until permanent repairs could be made.

What I discovered during all of this is just how quiet our house was without electricity. The A/C wasn’t kicking on and off, the fridge wasn’t running, the pool pump was silent and we had no opportunity to watch the morning news as we usually do. I told my wife the only thing we could do was talk to each other.

That’s when she came up with the idea of my retrieving the battery-powered radio from the garage. At least we’d have some kind of noise; the house would sound something like it normally does. I knew right where it was because it’s part of our hurricane-preparedness kit.

That helped.

We were without our power for about six hours. It’s a strange feeling. You are totally helpless. It’s not like sugar, when you run out you borrow some from a neighbor. When you’re out, you’re out!

And the dogs were all freaking out. They had been that way since the Banshee screamed. They would either mope around, head and tails drooping, or, as the one did, stayed very close to us, not leaving our side for a moment. It’s amazing what they can sense. I just wonder what they thought of it all.

So, now we are back n so to speak. We do have a great big wire running across our front yard and driveway, but at least we have power again.

And I can’t say enough about Mark, Cecil and Rudolph and their professional demeanor. They even apologized to us for the inconvenience.

We have been told it will be about two weeks before the permanent line is laid. We hope all goes well with that. But, I’ll let you know.

Grant is the managing editor of the Suffolk News-Herald. Contact him at, or 934-9603.