Puerto Rico: This Is What Living in a 6 Month-Blackout Looks Like

Travis Noonan
By Travis Noonan January 3, 2020 10:14

Puerto Rico: This Is What Living in a 6 Month-Blackout Looks Like

On the night of September 20th 2017, a Category 5 hurricane slammed ashore the Puerto Rican islands. A torrent of Hellish 155-mph winds and biblical sea waters razed the island’s infrastructure in a matter of hours, twisting power line and sweeping away entire blocks of homes.

Overnight hurricane Maria transformed a once-modern and popular tourist destination into an excerpt from the dark ages. This is what it was like to live in Puerto Rico for six months without any power.

A Complete Loss of Infrastructure or Communication

Pitch-black nights, cold and scarce meals, and complete isolation only begin to describe the terror Puerto Rico’s residents suffered for over half a year. The entire island suffered a six-month-long infrastructure failure in the wake of Maria, leading to over 1 million residents being left without any electricity.

That meant cell phone towers, wastewater pumping systems, water purification plants, hospitals, grocery stores, TV stations, radio towers, pharmacies, and all other public centers and utilities were shuttered. The total communication blackout left residents unable to forward emergency rescue and supply needs to first responders, leaving many to fend for themselves.

Related: 14 Things to Stockpile for the Next Hurricane

Puerto Rico: This Is What Living in a 6 Month-Blackout Looks Like

With over 90% of cell towers still inoperable, many weeks after the storm hit, desperation began to sink in. Mothers tried to phone their missing children. Husbands and wives were separated, with no way of knowing if the other had survived.

Children searched desperately for missing parents who stowed them away from the storm waters before disappearing. And with no central infrastructure connecting rescue operations, first responders and local police were unable to coordinate operations.

The only hope of emergency communications was found in preppers and amateur radio operators. Armed with walkie-talkies and HAM radios, it was private citizens relaying critical messages and assisting police and medical personnel in rescue operations that ultimately led to some measure of relief. But that relief was isolated, an exception and not the norm.

Telecommunications companies like T-Mobile painted dire pictures of the work to come. With so much damage and debris littering the island, repairs to infrastructure came slow. The lack of fuel meant crews couldn’t travel to remote locations where power lines were down – and even if they had fuel, the obstacles that lay in their way meant linemen and engineers had to battle tree branches, razed buildings and other dangers mile by mile. The work was slow, grueling, and often went for days at a time.

As a prepper, Maria illustrated for me the critical need to invest in emergency communications and reliable methods of hailing rescue or reaching family that doesn’t rely on public infrastructure. Amateur radio units are affordable and while operating one normally requires a license, emergency situations like Maria provide exceptions to those affected. Although more expensive, satellite phones have become affordable enough for the private user, too.

Desperation Led to Days-Long Waits for Gasoline

Puerto Rico: This Is What Living in a 6 Month-Blackout Looks Like Some locals were lucky enough to get their hands on gas-powered electric generators, though their investments provided little relief from the blackout.

Some families reported getting in line for gasoline at a fill station at 3:00AM, only to be left waiting with no indication of supply nearly twelve hours later.

But the problem wasn’t an outright shortage of gasoline. Because the blackout killed communication between fuel distributors and drivers, the fill stations waited eagerly for resupply with no indication of when relief would come. With fill station managers left wondering, residents who needed gasoline had to gamble on waiting for days at a time. Many brought tents, pillows and blankets, making makeshift camps while they waited for fuel with nowhere else to go.

As days and weeks dragged on with no sign of the power coming back whole, the suburbs and villages dotting Puerto Rico’s hills and valleys became scattered with makeshift (often dangerous) micro-power grids. Long orange extension cables were wrapped around fences and through windows. The hum and patter of gas and diesel engines filled every nook and street corner. Officials and electrical engineers pleaded with residents to mind their safety, providing instructions on how to power numerous homes with a single generator.

Related: How to Tell in 5 Minutes if it’s a Power Outage or an EMP and Get a Massive Head Start

Dark Nights, Missing Meds, and Isolation

Not all families and communities were lucky. Many families were forced to eat by candlelight and suffer isolated nights without electricity. Their near-misses in the storm didn’t spare them of the same fate most other residents suffered. It took ten months for some to get power back.

Although families had generators, the petrol prices and shortages meant most could barely afford to turn them on. On certain evenings they’d power on the TV to watch a single DVD. On other nights, they’d spend a few precious ounces of gas for a few hours to get the washing machine spinning.

Life became a dark game of treating basic amenities as precious commodities. They ate cold, unprepared food from tins and spent their days wrestling large bags of ice up the mountainside to be stored in picnic coolers, working tirelessly to preserve any perishable food they could find.

The long months without power also created dangerous medical complications for those suffering medical ailments. Two people who were on life support in a hospital died because its generators ran out of diesel fuel.

I find the need to supply power for medical reasons to be one of the most important factors to consider. A simple wind generator, hydroelectric station, or deep-cycle batteries with a manual charger could mean the difference between life and death.

Related: How to Make Your Own Wind Turbine

Restoring Power Had Unique Challenges

Puerto Rico: This Is What Living in a 6 Month-Blackout Looks Like In the hillsides, ragged crews of linesmen were battling extensive overgrowth, debris, and fallen trees to restore power to households.

Many worked six-day weeks, muscling out 14-hour shifts since Maria struck. Puerto Rico’s archaic power grid quickly began to show just how inadequate it really was.

Working out of an aging service truck and a re-purposed 1978 Jeep, the crew remarked how they kept having to return to previously serviced areas to restore power a second or third time. Battling fire ants, shoulder-high grass and debris, the crew lamented how falling trees would knock out their work completed earlier in the week, forcing them to return.

The federal Stafford Act dictates that agencies like FEMA and the Army Corps are only allowed to restore infrastructure exactly as it was before a disaster. In some cases, materials used in Puerto Rico were so outdated that the Corps had to get them specially made for the island, furthering delays.

Related: 9 Mind Bending Effects of a Grid Collapsing EMP

Relief Efforts Weren’t Without Corruption

Many people accused Puerto Rico’s sole utility company, PREPA, of being corrupt and wasteful, too. Before the storm, PREPA was bankrupt and held $72 billion of public debt – the biggest share in the country. It relied heavily on imported oil to produce electrical power in its four-decade-old power plants and it cut corners on important maintenance and grid repairs to save cash, exacerbating the issues post-Maria.

When the company approached Whitefish – a small Montana-based electrical firm – for the island’s repairs, the negotiated contract came under scrutiny and was later canceled. The inexperienced firm signed on to receive a $300 million pay-out with provision to receive more than double the regular wages for utility crew line works.

The company struggled to get equipment to the island, overcharged PREPA for its subcontracted repair labor (some workers were to be paid $319 an hour), and allegedly bribed PREPA’s contracting officer, Ramon Caldas, with personal goods, generators, water, and food. FEMA later reported the contract was missing more than a dozen required provisions.

How a Hurricane Maria Would Affect the U.S.

The United States’ infrastructure is better suited for handling the intense winds, floods, and storm surges that Hurricane Maria brought to Puerto Rico. But it is not without its own concerns and recent examples of inadequacy. When Hurricane Michael washed ashore the Carolinas, it became one of the ten most costly storms the U.S. had ever seen. Meanwhile, Hurricane Harvey racked up over $75 billion in economic losses.

Citing existing systems’ inability to cope with the unusually intense storms the country sees today – and those yet to come – state officials recorded 28 wastewater facilities and 40 hospitals in North Carolina whose operations were totally disrupted. Officials also cite the economic and logistical challenges of rebuilding aging and decades-old bridges, roads, electrical grids, and energy networks with new technology and standards meant to bolster the ability to withstand such storms.

And while the U.S is better equipped to respond to large-scale storm damage quickly, the effects of big hurricanes like Harvey, Maria, and Irma have been shown to cause interruptions on a similar scale to Puerto Rico. In Florida, seven million residents went without broadband coverage. In Corpus Christi, more than 75% of all cell towers were destroyed. Even with disruptions of this scale lasting just days, the risks of injury, contamination and illness, and lack of food and water quickly become real threats.

For all the preppers out there, let the recent story of Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria be a stark reminder that prepping is the key to surviving.

Author bio: Travis Noonan is a military veteran and contributing writer. His writing covers topics related to prepping, off-grid survival, and gunsmithing. In his spare time, Travis teaches shooters how to build AR-15s from scratch using an 80% lower receiver.

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Travis Noonan
By Travis Noonan January 3, 2020 10:14
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  1. Illini Warrior January 3, 14:32

    the only corruption you can find to mention is with the power contractor?
    the hurricane winds were still blowing and the governor and mayors were playing political games and spending their cut of the corruption take …

    Reply to this comment
    • Heidi January 3, 17:12

      Add to that that this hurricane was manipulated as other weather events are https://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/hurricane-maria-weather-warfare-and-military-bases/

      An exceptional example for this is in this brief video of a Nor’easter (the 6 min video explains how aerosols and microwave transmissions are being used to steer weather fronts at will):

      Reply to this comment
    • JJ January 3, 17:15

      I live in Puerto Rico, born & raised here.I spent 116 days without water or power, but I was ready, a born prepper I guess ,always preparing for the worst ,hoping for the best.Will not go into the corruption issue, long story,but as we all know in the prepper community, we are responsible for our and loved one’s safety.No one will do it for you when it hits.Be safe,be ready.

      Reply to this comment
      • Debbie55 January 3, 18:46

        One of the problems is that the infrastructure was old just like in the US. I live on a coast and I try to diligently stay prepared for any and all emergency situations. I can tell you from experience, you can ONLY depend on yourself.

        Reply to this comment
        • LilyG January 3, 23:27

          “You can only depend on yourself”…. I understand the main message of that.. don’t rely on the government to be there to help you out…. don’t rely on community services … Everyone around you could be in the same boat, so don’t expect that someone else will be there to come to your rescue. But, it’s a very isolationist message. What if you were the one who could help your neighbors? Your community?
          My grandparents and great grandparents would roll in their graves at the attitudes of so many preppers! My ninety year old father remembers the great depression even though he was just a child. And what he remembers very clearly is that there were always “extra” people at their table at meal times. His mother and grandmother were proud Scandinavian American farm wives…. And no one was sent away from their table hungry. The selfishness of people today is appalling…. We should all be ashamed of ourselves.

          Reply to this comment
          • JJ January 4, 03:05

            You got the main message right, but we did help each other,it was an amazing experience,live in an apartment building and everybody kind of bonded.Main thing here is be ready for anything.

            Reply to this comment
          • Conguerrican62 January 28, 20:09

            “What if you were the one who could help your neighbors? Your community?” Exactly! I think you got the main idea. The thing is that you have to be better prepared to be able to help others. Otherwise you’d be in the “same boat” as them.
            I was not on there for Maria, buy I was for Hugo, when I personally went for 4 month w/o potable water and 6 w/o power. At that time, the east of the island was damaged so the people on the west drove there to bring us all kind of supplies, even ice. Now, the south of the island is suffering from earthquakes and tremors and thousands have no safe place to live (they sleep in tents, tarps, or under the stars). So what does the people in the north do? They drive south with the supplies to give it themselves to those in need. Again, because of the government’s corruption issues, they don’t trust them to distribute it. It makes me sad to admit this, because is my hometown, but as we say: “you cannot cover the sun with your hand”.

            Reply to this comment
  2. Don.Gregorio January 3, 18:31

    Is sad’ that still we believe in politicians promises,Until the people of Puerto Rico.(my people) wake up to our own reality. that we have being use and abuse by every administration in the Island and main-land,don’t believe everything you hear, research your information and make sure you are not being BS.Love you all

    Reply to this comment
  3. Doc January 3, 22:49

    I live on St Thomas, VI and we were hit first by Irma on Sept 6th then again by Maria. We went 107 days without power and lost 1/4 of our roof! We were prepared and it still sucked! 5 months with no satellite TV, our old military generator died after 30 days, my husband built “Frankenstein “, with a boat generator a radiator and cooling fan from a car and a water pump.
    There is no where to go, no bug out location, no flights, boats would only get you to another destroyed island.
    Be ready people!

    Reply to this comment
  4. terry January 3, 23:37

    Liberals shouldn’t complain about power outages when their main man (Obongo & Bilary) shut down power plants all over the US.

    Reply to this comment
    • LilyG January 4, 01:47

      I refer you to my post above, and add that in the 1930s the farm I’m referring to did not yet have any electricity. They still farmed with horses well into the 1940s. My father bought his mother her first washing machine when he was in the army in the 1950s. They were also conservative republicans…. prohibitionists.

      Reply to this comment
    • Heidi January 4, 14:05

      Don’t throw all ‘liberal’ voters into one pot it may spoil the stew.

      none of us can really know what the people we elect will be doing after they are elected. I don’t even know what they are really doing when they are in power or who pulls their and others strings.

      I think this division among the citizenry has to stop, otherwise, my feeling about a better future isn’t a light one. (I know, good luck with that; but we should at least try).

      Hating each other and or separating from each other is NOT the way to go.

      The older I get (there never seems to be an end to that 🙂 the more I shake my head observing ‘humankind’. Looking at this world, it doesn’t appear to me that we are of the same species. Not because we live in different places, speak different languages, have different backgrounds or look differently; but because we treat each other like we’re different completely incompatible species; we kill (not ‘we’ but modern ‘humankind’), we hate, we despise, we blame, we steal from each other, we control others, we can’t even talk to each other any more, etc.

      And if we hate or despise or disrespect each other within the same country, how easy is it to do so, and worse, to people we aren’t that closely ‘related’ to.

      We people are crazy if we continue this path. Of destruction. Distrust. Degradation. Etc.

      If we ‘common folks’ can’t behave like ‘normal’ social (I don’t mean the political but biological term) people, how do we expect it from our ‘rulers’ or people who (for whatever reason) have reservations towards this country or its rulers.

      Esp. people aware of the importance of individual responsibilities, should stand out and treat other beings at least respectfully, and if in any way possible, even kindly.

      We aren’t each a floating single unit, we are from the ‘same stock’ as hard as it sometimes seems to believe. We better behave like it, otherwise, we’ll soon be out of ‘behaving’ in any way, good or bad. Because our cloth with frazzle from its edges into the center until all will be lost.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck January 4, 19:48

        Heidi: Biologically we may be the same as our ancestors but the mindset has changed. We see people panhandling today via the internet whose grandparents would have been ashamed to beg. I personally view the GoFundMe website as little more sophisticated than standing at the Winco parking lot entrance with a sign asking for money.

        In your great grandparents’ day and perhaps even into your grandparents’ day if they lived in a small farming community, people who were down and out first offered their services hauling water, chopping wood, weeding vegetable gardens, helping with the planting or harvesting.

        That doesn’t happen these days for a couple of reasons. The first is that people expect to have things just handed to them for the asking. I don’t know from whence this expectation arose, but it certainly exists.

        Secondly, government regulation has made allowing someone to work for a meal financially hazardous. I can’t speak to other states, but in the Peepuls Republik of Kallyforniya you allow some person to work on your property at the risk of financial ruin. Workers’ compensation rules make hiring casual labor a real Vegas crap shoot. The odds are probably better in Vegas. I have expounded on the financial risks involved in casual labor in posts on this website previously, so won’t go into them in detail here.

        Reply to this comment
        • LilyG January 4, 21:52

          Amen Heidi!!
          And Chuck… you obviously don’t know any Lutheran Scandinavian Americans. My grandmother would have been ashamed to have a “guest ” of hers perform work for food. If someone moved in and stayed as some neighbors and extended family did, well then they were a part of the family and helped work the farm (men) or take care of the house(women) . But mealtime guests were that… guests!! The biggest difference between then and now is that they lived their faith.

          Reply to this comment
          • left coast chuck January 5, 19:46

            LillyG: I guess we do have different interpretations of how “guests” are treated and how strangers who come to the door seeking handouts are treated.

            A “guest” in my dictionary is someone I know and invite to my home. While I don’t necessarily require that guest to assist in daily living, it certainly helps make his stay more pleasant and insures a future invitation if he contributes to the daily chores of housekeeping. A houseguest who sleeps in late, comes down and sits at the table expecting to be fed, plants himself in front of the TV or computer and spends the day there taking breaks only to stuff his face or for toilet breaks soon wears out his welcome and eventually would be invited to leave and not be invited back.

            I believe that even though your grandparents wouldn’t allow a guest to do household chores, I believe that their guests also offered regularly during their stay to help with chores. Because that’s what normal folk do.

            A stranger who comes to the door and asks for a handout is in a totally different category in my dictionary. He is not a guest. He is a beggar. Why should he believe I would just hand him something because he asks for it? Why is he not gainfully employed at some task? Every fast food establishment in this town is constantly seeking employees. Working in those establishments has been broken down to its simplest form. You don’t even have to speak the native language to perform most of the tasks. You even get meals such as they are. But the problem is they consider themselves above working at such menial tasks. It is easier and somehow less demeaning to ask for handouts. That, I think, is the biggest difference between folks today and your Scandinavian Lutheran ancestors. They would be ashamed to ask for a handout. Their friends and neighbors realizing that perhaps they were in an unfortunate circumstance would offer them either “surplus food that would otherwise go to waste” or employment at some task that would provide them the wherewithal to support themselves. I am confident that your grandparents would never walk up to a stranger’s front door and ask for food or stand at a parking lot entrance with a sign that read “Hungry, anything helps.”

            My grandmother was left a widow with five young daughters when my mother was 5 years old. She was the next to the youngest. This was in the days before SSI, EBT, SNAP and any of the other government giveaways. She supported herself and her young family by taking in washing and ironing, sewing, child care and any other of a number of menial jobs. Sometimes she had to have some member of her family take care of the younger girls for a while when she just couldn’t earn enough to support all of them. They all graduated from high school which in that day and those circumstances was a real achievement. She would have been thrilled to have a regular job at a place like MacDonalds where she had a steady income that she could plan on. She wouldn’t have found it beneath her to do that work if it meant she could put food on the table for her daughters. While she was desperately poor, she was also a proudful woman. One of her favorite aphorisms was, “There is no disgrace in clean, patched clothing. It IS a disgrace to wear dirty, torn clothing and there is no excuse for it.”

            She was part of the generation of immigrants to this country that made it the great country that it was.

            Reply to this comment
      • True American January 4, 20:40

        Liberals live in a fantasy world! Nothing is fair in this world, plain and simple? Democrats have been con artists from day go! Look at the party’s history? The pray on the uneducated and simple mined? Today the Democratic Party are hardcore communists? If you can’t see that, I feel sorry for you!! Their policy’s are evil to the core?!! They mean to have power and control at all cost? And yes I do put liberals all together, try having a discussion with one? If you don’t think their way, it’s hell to pay? I pray for this country! But I think we are past the point of no return?

        Reply to this comment
  5. prresident January 4, 01:14

    not much different than normal then

    Reply to this comment
  6. Joe January 4, 15:11

    PR is a corrupt s**t hole, full of crooked officials and lazy people. Sorry if the truth hurts. Sitting around waiting for other to give you hand outs and come fix your problems is not the solution. We should cut PR loose and let it sink or swim. They take more resources than they produce. Liberturd s**tholes will suffer the same fate when a disaster hits them. Other areas will pitch in and fix the problems. The truly sad part is that PR knew the storm was coming and were still not prepared. In my area when a storm brings down trees, we pitch in and clear the mess and open the roads. When the chainsaws run out of gas we use hand tools. Grow a pair and fix your own problems.

    Reply to this comment
    • Heidi January 4, 19:40

      The info in this link is valuable

      PS: It’s not about Puerto Rico but about the cohesion or lack thereof in the US and elsewhere and why cohesion and merging of different ideas and those having them is essential. Red + Blue = Purple and Purple is needed, neither blue nor red alone can make it.

      Reply to this comment
      • Joe January 6, 13:20

        No it is about lazy liberturd a**holes not looking to the greater good and only wanting their way and to sit on their lazy butts while others do the work. Let them sink or swim.

        Reply to this comment
        • Heidi January 6, 14:33

          Hi Joe, the video I linked to has really good points on this all (blue, red, purple). I feel sorry for this country since the red-blue divide seems to get larger and larger (I would suspect that this divide has been set into motion intentionally and we seem to fall for it so faithfully and blindly). How large can this divide get before this country is nothing like it ever was before? Neither liberals nor republicans will go away, so what will happen if we keep digging the canyon deeper? No foreign country could have weakened another as successfully as this. Discourse and or Hatred within —

          Reply to this comment
          • Joe January 7, 17:47

            The divide has always been there it is just being advertised more. Dumbocrats have threatened to impeach every Republican president. The KKK was the terrorist arm of the Dumbocratic party. Let the divide happen, blue states will fail as they do now but more quickly. Conservatives will eventually leave, as will businesses even liberal ones because of the tax situation. Let them crash and burn. Then when the fire is over, they will come crawling back. We were divided in 2011 until 9/11 then we joined together. Same before 12/7/1941, Pearl Harbor brought us together. Anti war people lined up at the US recruiting station after the attack. The Japs really did us a favor, anti war sentiment when to near zero after the attack. The media is stirring shit and making it look worse than it is. All it would take to bring down New York City or LA is to blow up the water transport tunnels and pipe lines, pumping stations, etc. Cities cannot survive without support of the countryside. Take away their water, food, etc. they will fall within days. This is why big city liberturds want big government because they cannot fend for themselves. Let them try their civil war, they will die by the tens of thousands. Cut off the power and watch the sewage fill the streets and the disease spread. Dumbocrats do not care about immigrants they just need the lazy and stupid to vote for them. Let shit hit the fan and see how fast the liberturds run to the conservatives for help. They cannot wipe their butts with instructions, let see how they do when their is no power, food, water, etc. A pandemic that spreads across our large liberturd cities and kills millions would be the best thing to happen to the US. Let the virus “take out” the trash. There is no place for the useless on this planet. Let it take out all professional performers, they are scum and whores and we would be better off without them. Professional politians too. After the black death swept across Europe, the Dark Ages followed. One of the most peaceful times in Europe. There were not enough people to waste on war.

            Reply to this comment
  7. old Lady Lottie January 5, 09:37

    The United States Government is as any other part of our Land. The current “President” Trump the Dumb” went to Puerto Rico and threw paper towels at the residents.
    DO not vote for that oversize Brat again.

    Reply to this comment
    • Joe January 6, 13:16

      Typical liberturd response. You must be one of the useless left wing POS’s.

      Reply to this comment
      • LilyG January 8, 22:09

        Joe… My conservative Republican family would take a stick to you for your foul mouth and un Christian manners. Shape up. No one wants to listen to you call people foul names and go on and on about wanting people to die. Your thoughts are as bad as actually committing the fifth comandment!

        Reply to this comment
        • left coast chuck January 9, 00:54

          I must agree with LilyG. Name calling is for other websites. This is a site where most of us come to learn lessons that others have learned the hard way. I don’t come here to read name-calling posts that add nothing to the knowledge that I am trying to acquire. In my view, vulgarity and crude language only indicate to me that the poster has a limited vocabulary and that could well indicate a limited mental capability also. I much prefer thoughtful posts that are reasonable and make sense.

          While I might not hit my goal every time, I certainly try with my posts to impart some of my hard earned knowledge. I may criticize a post if I feel it is in error and I try to furnish what I believe is the correct information, realizing, of course, that reasonable minds can differ. They can both be right and they can both be wrong as well as one being right and the other wrong. But sharing ideas is what we seek here on this website and hopefully leave other sites for name calling and vulgarity.

          Reply to this comment
  8. Road Warrior January 5, 15:20

    Every person that I know that has worked in war zones around the world and in Puerto Rico have said that it is easier to get work done in a War Zone than in Puerto Rico because of their lifestyle there.

    Reply to this comment
  9. left coast chuck January 9, 01:12

    The Japanese have a saying, “The bee stings a crying face.”

    From the recent news, it would seem that whatever progress P.R. has made in hurricane recovery has been set back due to the recent earthquakes.

    I believe we have an old adage that says bad luck comes in threes. P.R., better stand by for the other shoe to fall.

    If you live in P.R. and you haven’t started the preppier life, now would seem like a real good time to give it more than serious consideration. On the other hand, if you are following this website, hopefully you have also already gotten started on your preps.

    Right now I am trying to make a decision on acquiring a generator. Costco has a generator for $420 that would run the equipment I would need to operate during an electricity outage. The only equipment I must absolutely run is the refrigerator and the freezer. I have backups for coffee making (the most important need), cooking, water boiling and with our clement climate, heating, even on the coldest days can easily be handled with extra clothing.

    So far, I have used dry ice on the days that the local electric company threatened to turn the power off to prevent wildfires. I can buy a lot of dry ice for $400. The generator uses a fair amount of gasoline you get about 3 hours per gallon of gas. If the electricity is out for any lengthy period of time, neither dry ice nor generator will help, but by that time, hopefully I will have taken positive steps to use up what is in the cold boxes and won’t be concerned about it. Don’t need electricity for lights or telling time. Need it for computer and cellphone, but smaller solar units will handle that need. At this stage of the game, I am not about to go to the expense of a natural gas generator. I would not live long enough to amortize off the cost and I don’t think the advantage of a natural gas electricity generator would be a significant selling point to a suburban home buyer in SoCal.

    In the 52 years I have lived in this house I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times the electricity has gone off. Of course, it is only since two significant fires in this county in one year and the huge fire in Santa Rosa all caused by ancient electrical equipment (vigorously denied by the utility companies) that the utility companies have decided rather than upgrading their infrastructure, it would be cheaper to just turn the juice off. Sometimes making the decision is the hardest part of action.

    If anyone has some suggestions, I would certainly consider them.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Sabel January 7, 19:57

    LCC –

    The first problem I see with your plan to use dry ice is getting to a supplier/retailer of it and, if the power is out for any length of time, that supplier/retailer being able to get it and store it and their supplier being able to make it and distribute it to your suppler/retailer.

    Have you looked into the cost of a propane fridge/freezer? I don’t know how much they cost but I would think that, if they were affordable and if you have a means to store the propane (either a collection of 25# tanks or a household-sized “pig” in the yard which is what we have for all our gas appliances [stove, furnace &water heater]), you wouldn’t need to keep one running all the time, just keep it tucked away in the garage or basement for emergencies, to be turned on as needed.
    Propane has the advantage of indefinite storage life as opposed to gasoline for a generator. We get our pig refiled two or three times a year, about 450 gals at a time. Costs a lot but lasts for several months, even in the winter when the furnace is running. You might be able to salvage a small one from an old RV somewhere for a pretty reasonable price.

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