Bravo, Dominion!

This columnist is thankful for Dominion's hard work restoring power after the derecho.

The derecho came without much warning. 

I had just gotten home after having finished my fourth straight day working 12 hour shifts in the blazing sun as a marshal for Tiger Woods’ golf tournament at Congressional Country Club. I crashed into my Archie Bunker chair and couldn’t move. I wondered why the hell I was punishing my already-worn 62-year-old body for this guy who, well, you all know about Tiger. So, like any hard working stiff who is looking for some relief, I took some pills.   

I was in stage nine of deep sleep when I felt something shaking me.  It was my 22-year-old son, Patrick, who through my blurry eyes (I forgot to take out my contacts) was urging me to get down into the basement. I don’t remember how I got down there, I heard people talking nervously and proceeded to sleep through my first derecho. 

When I woke up later on, I heard a terrible sound - silence.  Yep, the electricity was out and that meant my beloved central air conditioning was out.  In my post-drug state, I staggered around the house, flipping on every switch thinking that would turn the power back on. I was like those folks who stand at a street corner pounding those buttons that they think will actually change the traffic light sequence so they can walk over to the grocery store. Realizing that we were screwed, I ripped my dry contacts off my eyes and sought refuge downstairs, which was the coolest part of the house. The entire family, including the dog, slept in the basement that night.

The next day I awoke at 5:30 a.m. to the same silence.  I couldn’t be bothered, however, because Patrick and I had to go out again to work at the golf tournament. We drove all the way out to Congressional — in my nice air conditioned car — only to be told that the course was closed that day.  Truth be told, I was totally relieved because I was not scheduled to work on Sunday so that meant that my work with Tiger was mercifully done.

At 7 a.m. on Sunday, our power came back on. I was sitting in the basement, hiding from the world, when I heard the air-conditioning unit go on. I thought of going up to Good Shepherd Church to thank whoever is in charge of miracles, but thought twice about being a hypocrite and being struck by another derecho. That day I just chilled, watched the entire tournament from the comfort of my home with lots of cold beer in the fridge. 

Look, this storm was an incredible inconvenience and my family lucked out because we were just down for a whole day. But I got so sick and tired of people complaining about Dominion Power and how long they were taking to get the power back on. Hey, folks, did you happen to read that this was a hundred year event?  What exactly do you think the crews from Dominion (and other states and Canada) were doing all night long, chilling with a brewski in front of the 7-Eleven?  No, they were trying to extricate folks in very dangerous situations, like clearing the downed tree and repairing the transformer on Badger Lane. Indeed, I drove by street on Monday in the 102 degree weather and actually stopped to thank the crew for working so hard. 

But we are so quick to complain, to look for the villains, to blame someone.  We want everything to be perfect, we want our government to make absolutely no mistakes, we expect our teachers to be perfect and to totally understand each individual child. We have just gotten so spoiled.    

I choose to believe that Dominion did their best, that they are not perfect and that hopefully they learned a number of things to prepare for the inevitable next derecho. Meanwhile, I say Bravo to Dominion Power and the hundreds of workers who were out there in that very dangerous heat working in very dangerous situations. 

Keith Whited July 26, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Bravo for giving kudos where kudos are due. My power was out for four days but I understand the problem that power companies face in these situations. Few things disturb me more than the folks being interviewed on TV (and the media for stirring things up) bitching about how poorly the power companies are responding and complaining that "it's been (fill in the number) days and they still haven't even shown up on my street." Seems like a little 'common sense' would go a long way folks. 1. Think of the whole electrical system as if it were a hose and your home is the nozzle at the end where the water (electricity) comes out and becomes useful. If the hose is cut in 6 places it doesn't do any good to show up at the nozzle end (your neighborhood) and repair the hose there until the other five breaks are repaired. Even if they showed up in your neighborhood first, you're still not going to 'get the juice' until the other five breaks are repaired. Of course they aren't in YOUR neighborhood yet - - they're fixing the other end of the hose. 2. The power companies are in the business of selling electricity. They have every incentive to get you back up and running ASAP. They aren't earning any profit from your home while you're sweltering in the dark. (continued)
Keith Whited July 26, 2012 at 12:44 PM
3. This WAS billed and a 100 year event folks. The power companies keep enough folks on the payroll to maintain the power lines during normal times. When an even like this happens they bring in other linemen from all over the country to get you back on line as soon as possible. Yes - I hear your arguement already . . . they should be prepared for a disaster and keep enough workers on the payroll to be ready. NO! They Shouldn't! Do you have ANY idea how much your monthly electric bill would be every month if Dominion (or any power company) paid thousands of linemen to sit around waiting for the next 100 year event? 4. Bury the lines - doing so would cost ten (or hundreds) of millions of dollars. Refer to question above - - how high do you want your electric bill to be?? Suggestion to those who complain - - Button up and suffer for a couple of days. It'll make you appreciate the reliable service you have during normal times.
Ron Fitzsimmons July 26, 2012 at 03:24 PM
I can understand your frustration,Terry, but the point I was trying to make was this was an extremely unusual event and I would think hat Florida, because they get so many hurricanes, is more prepared for them. It's like DC and VA not being prepared for snowmageddon a few years ago. I dont know about you but I'm not interested in spending my tax dollars for more equipment for that once-every-ten year storm.
Ron Fitzsimmons July 26, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Great points, as usual, Keith! We all want things to work perfectly, but are usually not willing to pay for it. And actually, I read that doing underground lines in D.C. would actually cost about six BILLION.
Kari Warren July 27, 2012 at 07:15 PM
We have underground lines on my street. Which is great...until the transformers are hit or a tree falls on a line that feeds into our street. So, underground lines don't solve the world's problems. Considering the devastation to our area, I am extremely satisfied with Dominion Power's response. I am more concerned about the loss of the state-of-the-art 9-1-1 call center which cost us over $120 million dollars. I haven't heard any rationale for that going down (people were instructed to drive to the fire/police stations). I'd like to hear more.


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