In the last two years, the residents of Sullivan County have learned that hurricanes are not limited just to the southern US states anymore.
First it was Hurricane Irene. Now, Hurricane Sandy hit us hard, with her tremendous winds ripping roofs off of homes, uprooting tall trees and taking down electric lines across our landscape.
Yet, we were luckier than others further south of us-thousands of households and commercial buildings there got destroyed or still don’t have power.
We need to learn from our experience with Hurricane Sandy.
Sure, all of us learned the importance of being prepared for a catastrophic storm by stocking up on water, batteries, Sterno, ice, and canned foods.
Just as important, we also learned that it’s vital to have a backup generator available to power wells, heating elements, refrigerators, and minimum lighting.
But now that the storm is over and the generators have been unplugged, there are further lessons needed to be learned about the use of generators when the power goes out and what happens after the storm.
First, most of those using generators ran them continuously until they ran out of gas-as a result, those appliances, boilers, and other electrical appliances plugged were impacted as if there was a brown out. On some, controls on these appliances were blown out-and some actually were ruined.
Our crews are now going out on calls to repair-and even replace-water pumps and heating apparatus which suffered damaged as a result of being plugged into generators that ran out of gas.
During the next storm, if using a generator, you must make sure to monitor the fuel use of your generator-and most importantly, unplug the plugs right before the generator runs out of gas. You need to then fill it up, start it up again, and then put the plugs back into the generator once it is running at full speed.
A second important lesson is that if your power goes out, make sure to shut off the main breaker to your home-and don’t put it back on until power has been fully been restored.
We are getting many calls to fix water pumps and oil and gas burners that were damaged by the surge that resulted electric service returning to their homes.
The third lesson is that if you get advance notice of a storm, make sure that your oil tank is filled.
After Hurricane Sandy, not only was there a gas shortage, but there has been also a rationing in the allocating of fuel products that has diminished the amount of heating oil available to vendors like Black Bear.
Every company has been rationed fuel oil now. While we have enough reserves to supply our customers, we are not taking on new customers until supplies return back to normal.
Hurricane Sandy taught us how powerful the wrath of nature can be-we all need to be better prepared to safeguard our homes and lives for the next big storm.
Bobby & Tina