Too Much Snow, Not Enough Grid: One Man’s Tale Of Storm Survival

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PHOTOS: I had to run these photos with this story to offset the doom and gloom this snow makes us feel. Nice photos, Beth Buck and Yvonne Maclean Paplaskas.

The first sign of doom and gloom came about 3:13 a.m. Thursday, March 8.

It may have been icicle inducing temps outside, but in my bedroom, a bead of sweat woke me out of a deep sleep.

I’m not a light sleeper. My wife will be glad to testify to that, as it takes her five texts, four slaps across the face and one push on the air horn to get me out of the recliner and up to bed at night.

One force is greater than sleep for me. Temperature. I like me a cold room and that means I need the fan on even in the dead of winter. So I know our power went out at 3:13 a.m. because that’s when the sweat bead rolled into my eye, forcing me to witness the fan not working.

Forcing me to acknowledge that the power was out.

The forecasters had told us that this would be a wet, heavy snow that would stick to power lines. But I had faith. National Grid had sent me four emails and three phone messages telling me how well prepared they were to handle whatever Mother Nature threw our way.

I don’t need to charge my phone or go buy a generator. They got this.

By 3:14 a.m., all hope was lost. I realized that I had forgotten to plug my phone into the charger. So my power countdown would not be starting at 100 percent before I needed to go recharge in the car.

No, we were at a hefty 31 percent. Meaning, I would have to forego any hankering or pang I might get to play that Family Guy match-three game or Bouncy Hoops or Candy Crush. No, I would have to go into full-on Adult Mode.

And of course, Adult Mode starts with clearing out snow. So, after a three-hour snooze after the no-power discovery, I spent 20 minutes staring at my Keurig, pretending that it was brewing me Breakfast Blend. Then, I spent another 20 minutes praying that the snow wasn’t too slushy for the snowblower.

Of course, in those 20 minutes, temperatures could have risen enough to melt the snow just enough to be too slushy for the snow blower. Adult Mode is not foolproof.

I had recently become lazy and for the first time in my life, used the electric starter on my snowblower. There was always something soothing and manly about pull starts on the mower or the snowblower.

During the first snow of this season, my pull start was not starting with the pull. So I went with the power start and it literally changed my life. So, I needed to spend another 11 minutes reteaching myself how to properly caress the snowblower before attempting the proper pull start. Yes, people, there is an art to it.

The blower started, and glorious snow thrusted through the shoot. Yes, my machine needed a little extra elbow grease to power through, but it got the job done without throwing out my back.

My brief return to the word of power-propelled life was fruitful, but alas, there was still no power in the house. Better yet, the temperature inside the house was plummeting. I noticed no emails from National Grid telling me, “Don’t worry, stay put, it’s coming back right quick.”

And trying to call them was futile. My wife and kids quickly became obsessed with their online maps, showing where their crews were and weren’t. Only one problem: it looked like they were only updating the information once a day. Very helpful.

By 1 p.m., we made the call. Time to dip into the nonexistent emergency reserves and book a hotel. Of course, most of the forward-thinking folks had reserved rooms the night before or even Thursday morning. So by the time we found a room, it was at the Hyatt Place in Medford, where we could see the Boston skyline.

And where, we would soon discover, it takes 15 minutes to drive two miles to find a McDonald’s two towns over.

We reacquainted ourselves with Papa Gino’s and with each other over the next couple days. We ingested way too many hotel waffles, Nutri Grain bars and spent far too much time on the National Grid website. We returned home to get clothes and dump the ice out of the ice maker that we forgot to empty. And when we came home a second time for a change of clothes before a change of hotels from Medford to Woburn, surprise! The power was on.

I’m still waiting for an explanation of why the power went out. In all seriousness, as much as I really don’t want to waste space bashing National Grid, to spend all that time ahead of the storm telling us you got this and then no time during the storm keeping us updated, you get an F for public relations.

Did a generator blow out? There were no power lines down in our neighborhood. Without any kind of connecting of the dots, we are left to surmise that you all are incompetent.

The only thing keeping me from obsessing more about the power company is the charge on my credit card that shouldn’t be there. Remember that hotel we were supposed to go to? When the power came back on, I called the hotel and they told me they wouldn’t charge me a cancellation fee.

No, instead they charged us for the room.

I remember wearing shorts just a few weeks ago. I remember green blades of grass and playing basketball in the driveway, thinking winter was over.

Please, let it be over. Matt Noyes and Harvey Leonard and Pete Bouchard are all telling me this lazy, meddling jet stream hanging over us means we are looking at more winter storms right into April.

National Grid, you better up your game. You had mayors turning on you after this round of storms. We lose any more power around here, you might have people storming the corporate office.

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