For two and a half days, I did not have electricity.
I was pretty bitter.
By mid-day two, I had very little to say in the way of conversation besides, “Can I shower at your house?” or “Do you know someone who will let me shower at their place of residence.” I complained. A lot.
I learned quite a bit in the wake of Irene:
A. I am not resourceful. Unless you count qualifying four water bottles as a “shower.”
A 1/2. I don’t fare well sans coffee.
B. When the hype for a storm surrounds south Jersey and New York City, then fails to entirely live up to that hype, don’t expect the Tri-state area to suddenly know that Sussex County exists. Even if it is slammed by the hurricane that was supposed to be a wimpy tropical storm by the time it reached the north.
C. Everyone thinks that they have it the worst. No matter what.
D. Traffic lights and road lights are gorgeous inventions. You will miss them when they are gone.
But perhaps my most important realization was how CRUCIAL local news really is. Without electricity there is no internet, no TV, no radio, etc. Of course, in this day and age, a great number of people have smart phones that do away with the prospect of being entirely cut off from the world because of some pesky, downed power lines. Then again, not everyone has an iPhone. And eventually, iPhone or no, without electricity to charge such precious devices, that lifeline is going to die. So the paper version of your local news may suddenly awake from its prehistoric status and become a commodity in demand. And even if your iPhone has some sort of super, Duracell bunny resolve, your local news provider will be put to the test, whether electronic or dinosaur.
It’s during a disaster that you can really see whether or not your local news outlet provides you with adequate information –– if it is capable of delivering the most pertinent news to you. I’ll admit that I drove to the nearest gas station (which was also without power) to get my Sunday New York Times (my snobbery weathers many a disaster), but I found myself less engaged. An article about Steve Jobs was great and all, but what I really wanted to know were the answers to the following questions: When would I be able to safely leave Wantage? and Would I have to go to work a mess?
The answer were: probably a month from now and yes. Yes, you will. And you will complain the entire time.
During dire circumstances, straightforward, efficient and thorough reporting become more important than ever. Everyone is so wrapped up in their individual situations that they are looking for news that is tailored specifically to them. If they do not receive what they seek, they will look elsewhere. It’s situations like Irene that separate the women from the girls. The rag from the revered.