Updated Again: A Storm in a Tea Cup, Apparently

Environmentalism & Animal Rights,Media,The Zeitgeist


The first thing to note in the aftermath of the biggest windstorm to hit Washington and Oregon in decades is the lack of coverage in MSM. The feminized media allots plenty of coverage to human interest stories–the girls are currently eulogizing endlessly the “experienced” mountaineers gone up Mount Hood during the most treacherous month of the year, just before one of the biggest blizzards ever. (Hey, do a story about electricity deprived, peeved pets or something.) But nothing about at least a million residents in the Pacific Northwest stranded without power for days, in primitive conditions, befitting a Third World country–or perhaps states overrun by greens, where the Prius is the “People’s Car.”

Well, as I say, we were plunged into a primitive, Third-World existence. Temperatures in my home plummeted to 45 degrees for 4 days. We coped thanks to the generosity of a neighbor with a massive generator. Now that I know I live at the mercy of Luddites, I fully intend to go survivalist: a generator, extra gas for the BBQ (I made a stew with the remaining chicken in my freezer, although I was forced to discard the rest of the meat and fish therein), and piles of candles.

So what are the questions Journalism of Old would have asked here? Utilities are only nominally private and are heavily regulated. How have regulations affected their response times and, most crucially, the maintenance of the power grid? Should power lines be buried? Why aren’t they? (Earthquakes would be one consideration, in addition to costs.)

But above all: the grid and power lines suffered mostly tree damage. In this part of the world, the trees everywhere are intertwined with the cable. Why? Why isn’t a wide tree-free swath maintained around these vital structures? Why are trees not chopped back?

I suspect the explanation lies in the self-defeating dementia of tree fetishists, and “Watermelon” legislation — green on the outside; red on the inside. However, as usual, the “Watermelon” worldview creates more havoc than it prevents. Because of wood fires, the usually pristine air in our part of the world resembles the air above the shanty town of Soweto. The resources and energy spent–and the lives lost–because of this mess are many times the cost or worth of a few thousand trees.

Update: While MSNBC noodles on for hours about the “experienced” climbers of Mt. Hood, and their relatives who, like all Americans, have an amazing knack for suctioning themselves to TV cameras and addressing “the nation” in their time of sorrow, some residents of King County, WA, got told they may be without power for yet another two weeks.

Updated Again: S. Johnson of Oregon backs up what I’ve surmised so far. He writes: Thank you for telling it like it is. We are on a private, co-operative power co. (Blachly-Lane), and they do exactly what you suggested be done as far as maintaining a tree-free zone around power lines. The Greens/tree huggers/libs thwart their efforts to a degree, as do liberal property owners, so guess what? The trouble we do experience is ALWAYS on/around their property! “They” never get it. I have a neighbor that refuses to let the power co. install a pole on his property because he maintains that it isn’t necessary as it’s been that way for 40 years and he is not going to change his mind. Guess what again? The power outages caused by winds are ALWAYS because the power lines span such a long distance over his property that they whip severely and bring down the poles! EVERY TIME! Yes, during the storm, down came the power pole and we, and about 500 others, were out of power for 23 hrs. Not a big deal for us, as I have generators, but some others don’t. I’ve lived here for 31 years (it’s a very rural area) and our power co. only serves about 2500 customers. I have talked to the “neighbor.” He is a Berkley educated hobby farmer who is as stuck on himself as he is dense. I’m sure he can absorb light. Won’t budge even when the facts are overwhelmingly against him. Oh, well, I won’t bore you anymore. Thanks for letting me vent. Keep up the good work and MERRY CHRISTMAS to you.

5 thoughts on “Updated Again: A Storm in a Tea Cup, Apparently

  1. Dan Maguire

    First, sorry to hear of your misery. On the admittedly meager plus side, the experience has prompted you to take precautions for the future, which is good.

    In the northern mid-West where I live, older neighborhoods have all their power lines above ground, while the new ones have their power lines buried. Now, as far as the main lines go…ugh, I don’t know. I confess ignorance regarding the prime lines that bring the juice to large numbers of people. My guess is that a lot of these are still above ground, subject to the hazards in Ilana’s article. By the way, it seems to me that an earthquake is a peril that will knock down power lines whether they’re above ground or not. Depends on the severity of the quake, maybe.

    It would be informative to see the costs of a one-time tree “pushback” along with the regular trimmings that would need to happen versus the cost of what Ilana and the rest of the Northwest just went through. My bet: trimming trees would win.

    In all fairness to the utilities, customers complain about any and all manner of rate increases. Trimming the trees and properly passing the cost to the consumer would result in a lot of angry consumers. Of course, that’s what you have now after the power outage. Basically, people want their power but they don’t want to pay for it. So, we have what we have today: an intensely regulated industry so that the benevolent government can make sure we’re not getting screwed. In the meantime, we get screwed. Go figure.

  2. james huggins

    Nobody can forsee the exact date of natural disasters but they can forsee that the disasters WILL come sooner or later. As populations grow governments grow and become less flexible and effecient in their ability to prepare for
    or respond to the non-routine events of the day. In other words it’s not going to get any better so the citizens should be prepared to take care of themselves. In the case of real disasters the efforts of governments become self defeating so we had better be prepared to not only fight the elements but to resist the incompetent boobs in our various govermental bodies who are making decisions based on ignorance and ideology. The incredible series of events preceding and during the Katrina disaster in New Orleans is just a warning. The major local political figures who should have been in the know about local conditions botched the whole thing through ignorance and political posturing. It seems they are being rewarding for their official malpractice by being re-elected and no doubt being in place to help with distribution of gazillions of dollars of tax payer supplied relief funds.

  3. concha

    I am glad to hear of your triumph over nature. You are right, there has been no coverage of this fierce storm in California. Oh, I’m sure it’s been mentioned, but nothing like the coverage of the lost climbers. I’m not a t.v. hound, but I have noticed it’s all about them when I do turn it on.
    I had no idea, and am sorry to hear of the death and destruction this storm has caused. Take care.

  4. Stephen w. Browne

    Loved your comments about the Lada. In Poland the “peoples car” was the Maluch or Maly Fiat, manufactured under license.

    I had to help a lady start one once and was amazed when I opened the hood in back. It was the first vehicle with four wheels and two cylinders I’d ever seen that wasn’t a lawn mower.

    How do you double the value of your Maluch? Drive it to the gas station and fill it up.

    Why does a Maluch have shoulder belts? So when it breaks down you can use it as a backpack.

    I adapted an old VW joke about how when you get into a collision with a big dog – you lose. Then a lady told me that she had in fact hit a big dog with her Maluch. The dog got up and ran away – but the Maluch’s front end was totaled!

  5. Leonard

    Here in the East, we had a big summer storm a few years back that had similar effects. And my coworkers and I debated the same sort of things. Why are all the power lines exposed like that? (Must be cheaper, but how much cheaper?) What sort of legal regime around line maintenance is there? Clearly the power company can trim trees around their lines, but I don’t think they are very aggressive about it. Could they be? Why do they have all those old transformers that blow up? Can’t they use modern tech to shut one down fast enough if a short happens?

    Meanwhile, for your winter storm I ama little surprised you lost food. Right now I am seeing 38 for the high in Seattle. Couldn’t you put the stuff in a cooler and put it outside? It would take a very long time for a bunch of frozen food to thaw in such conditions, and you can maintain freezing indefinitely if it gets below 32f at night.

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