Friday, May 28, 2010

Late Breaking News: Major Electric Blackout Averted

As we all know, the Great Electric Blackout of 2003 was not caused by a wheel-hamster strike, but the true cause was eventually narrowed down to tree limbs touching the electric wires in Toledo, Ohio.  Since then, the power company First Energy has committed to clear cutting a five mile swath around power lines while at the same time being sensitive to the property rights of birds and squirrels.  What follows is not a dramatization.

Flanders Road and Janet Avenue

A large tree limb fell and completely blocks the road and simultaneously the electricity is several neighboring homes goes off.  Could there be a connection?  Electric crews are not working overtime to find out.  Meanwhile, local traffic must find an alternate route that does not cross the lawn of the mean old man with the shotgun living on the corner of Flanders and Indian Ridge road.

I found three reactions among residents:
  • Drivers would come right up to the orange cones and stop, carefully avoiding eye contact with the Sylvania Township policeman in his cruiser with the lights on parked just in front of the cones.  The car would sit for a while, then carefully back up, turn around and leave.
  • People would stop and ask, "What happened?"  One person suggested it might well be an accident caused by First Energy trimming trees.  I suggested a train wreck.  The officer thought it might be something else.
  • People would wander right under the live wires and take pictures, then stand around an talk.  I wonder if any of these folks ever heard of the Sword of Damocles.

On a tip from a passerby who neglected to ask questions, I checked the tree adjacent to the fallen limb and discovered a bad case of something.  The oak tree is hollow.  Since we have sandy soil in the area and a high water table, I'd guess termites and carpenter ants.


It seems a portion of the limb landed on the electrical wires, causing a short or something.  Clearly it is time to summon officialdom.

Official Trucks

First Energy sent three work trucks to deal with the problem, and our service was restored in four or five hours, which was nice.  The road was cleared by a city work crew in slightly less time, but only slightly.

I stood around and watched for a while, chatting with neighborhood locals and taking pictures of the work, which annoyed one First Energy worker but didn't phase any of the others.  I spent some time talking to the Sylvania Township policeman, who was an affable sort.  He was slightly bored by his assignment and was happy to pass the time with someone.  I didn't get his name or badge number, but he'd been a policeman for about 15 years and struck me as the calm, deliberate sort of man I'm glad the township has.

On another note, I hear the squirrels are upset about the spontaneous urban renewal and are planning to file suite against Sylvania Township, The Toledo Blade and First Energy.  I think they're a little nuts.

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