Jonie Mitchell told us decades ago that we don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone. That’s especially true of electricity. Until you don’t have power you just don’t think about how much of your daily activities are made possible by flicking a switch. Power powers our whole day. This was made absolutely clear in the past week by losing power for over 24 hours as a result of Brisbane’s monster storm.
My suburb was one of the worst hit and an early morning walk the following day showed why we were in the dark. Numerous huge trees had been uprooted bringing down power lines, some ending up on cars and houses, and debris everywhere was closing streets and creating general chaos. The sheer randomness of the storm’s chaotic progress damaged tens of thousands of houses in its path, including taking the roofs off some riverside apartment blocks.
A giant gum brings down power lines and puts paid to two cars and a house.
Not having power means no early-morning visit to the gym, no morning cuppa, no opening the fridge door in case precious cold air escapes, no quick morning check of the email, no hot shower, no cooked breakfast, no ironed clothes, no train to work or play, chaos on the roads, etc etc etc. It was like the 2011 floods, when we lost power for five days, all over again.
Twisted iron sheets and other debris from an apartment block close off riverside street.
On the plus side, the family did a lot of talking. Strangers started conversations. I slept like a baby in the quiet, pitch black, cool, post-storm aftermath. Only the hum of generators and helicopters – yes, back so soon after the G20 invasion – disturbed the silence. I learned how much you can actually do with a gas ring, a few candles and a miner’s-style head torch. With the blackout extending into a second night and the prospect of another make-shift meal looming suddenly cheers echoed down the street. Lights flickered and appliances sprang to life like fairy tale heroes awakening from a deep slumber. Outside, bulbs progressively popped on illuminating the dark hillside.
More power lines bite the dust!
Thank you electricity emergency workers for toiling non-stop around the clock, in the chaos and drizzle, with live power lines everywhere, to flick on the switch to our lives again. How lucky we are to live in a society where being without power is rare when countless millions worldwide live permanently without electricity.