Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Community Crisis

Normally, a crisis in Florida consists of an impending hurricane, or perhaps a tornado. Lately, the wind chills (yes, wind chills!) might qualify. But here in Celebration we had a different sort of crisis yesterday. Electricity went out to several villages (near as I can figure, East, South, Aquila Reserve, and Artisan Park were all affected) and was off for several hours. In EV, I think it ran from 5 a.m. all the way to past 1 p.m.

Initially, I gained semi consciousness at 5 a.m. and noticed that it was awfully dark. It partially registered in my sleepy mind that the power was off, but I didn't think much of it. I had a meeting scheduled in the morning, so I just drifted back off. When I woke up again, the sun was blazing so I didn't notice the pervasive darkness, but everything was too silent and my clock's face was blank. Uh oh, it was almost time for my meeting, and there I was with no hair dryer and a questionable amount of hot water. Everything in our house is electric, so a power outage means paralysis. Even the phones are all cordless, which means they were all dead. I had my cell, but it was nearly out of battery power. My laptop was charged up, but no power means no wireless router and therefore no internet.

I tried to communicate with my husband via my failing phone. It's a G1 so I can normally use the internet, but for some reason it wasn't working. Hubby checked the community intranet and saw many reports about the outage, as well as the fact that Progress Energy was working on it. At this point, my phone was almost dead, and I knew I needed to work, so I left the house in search of power and wireless. I headed off to Clementine's, a nice little coffee shop at Water Tower Place.

Clementine's has yummy food and drinks, but better yet, they had power and internet access. I set up camp at a comfy table, ordered a drink, and plugged in my phone and computer. There were many other refugees. In a way, it was like a hurricane shelter on a much smaller scale. People had fled their powerless homes to congregate on a handy central point where they could enjoy a latte and indulge in their internet fix.

I met several people I knew already and one person who realized we were posting on the community intranet at the same time, from nearby tables, and introduced himself. It amazed me as to just how wired society has become, to the point of barely being able to function when the tech gadgets are taken away. For me, all three of my businesses are tied into the internet, so my laptop and a connection are crucial. I was much less dependent on cell phones before I got my G1, but now it's like having the internet in my pocket. It's cool and frustrating all at the same time, as the battery lasts less than a day if you actually use the stupid thing.

The huddled masses continued to sip coffee (well, myself, I switched to iced tea) and get their electricity and internet fixes until word came down that power had been restored. It had been over eight hours in total, and I think that half of town must have given a collective sigh of relief when Progress Energy was finally done with their work.

Now I'm back to having power in Duloc Manor, and I think I've got a renewed appreciation for what that means. And I don't feel too bad, because as the impromptu refugee area showed, I'm most definitely not alone in my dependence.

1 comment:

Catherine said...

Just be glad it was not in the summer because then you would be all yuckified with sweat too.