Powered up after Irene

Published 10:07 pm Thursday, September 1, 2011

In recent days on these pages, we’ve thanked the Lord for delivering us through Hurricane Irene with relatively minor losses. We’ve thanked neighbors for helping each other out during and after the storm. And we’ve thanked the Red Cross for sending volunteers our way to provide meals and snacks to Suffolk residents who were reeling from Irene’s punch.

Before it’s too late to do so, we want to be sure to thank the men and women who have worked day and night to restore electrical power throughout Suffolk and the surrounding area. Whether they work for Dominion Power or for one of Dominion’s contractors, their sacrifice on behalf of those who found themselves powerless after the storm was much appreciated.

And it truly was a sacrifice for some of those electrical workers, many of whom could be seen in convoys headed east, north and south into the area in the middle of the storm on Saturday. Most of them left family members back home in Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky or some other state in order to come and spend long days and nights clearing fallen trees, pulling lines and setting new poles in an area they’d never seen before.

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In Virginia, about 1.2 million customers lost their electrical service when Irene blew through, according to Dominion statistics. Nearly every one of those customers has a story to tell today about cold showers, spoiling food and sweaty evenings trying to entertain themselves without the accustomed electronic screens and gadgetry.

It takes only a few days without power before we begin to watch those out-of-town electric-service trucks with a sense of hopeful anticipation. And we even find ourselves a little bit angry when a co-worker announces that she got her power back on yesterday. “Are they avoiding my neighborhood on purpose?” we ask ourselves.

And finally, the lights flicker and come back. The sudden sound of the television in another room startles us. Maybe a bathroom fan whirrs noisily into action in the middle of the night. Power has been restored. First thoughts are of hot showers and cold drinks, maybe some air conditioning or a room fan. And before we know it, life has returned to normal.

And then the electric-service trucks disappear from the neighborhood — from the city and the state — almost before we can say, “Thank you.” If you missed your chance to say so directly, why not turn on an extra light or two in their honor? Perhaps they’ll notice the lights from our living room windows as they drive out of town, and they’ll see just how pleased we are with their work.