Monday, 2 July 2012

Observations from the Storm Aftermath

After 54-odd hours, I can make a couple of observations about this DC storm episode.

First, oddly enough....we haven't had any shootings or stabbings in the DC area since the storm came through.  Don't know why or what drives this.....but the public in DC is somehow getting one positive out of this.

Second, the PEPCO guys (the electrical company for Maryland and part of DC) is legendary for upsetting their customer base.  The company came out this morning and admitted that even by Friday of this week....only ninety percent of the customer base would be fully operational.  You can figure Monday of next week before everyone from the PEPCO region is happy.  I'm thinking that angry feelings will come out of this waiting period.

Third, OPM, who runs government operations out of DC.....would like for most everyone to do telework from home today....just avoid coming into DC.  This might work.....except if you don't have power or internet.....then there just ain't going to be any telework accomplished.  You might sit out in the backyard with a case of warm beer, and ponder over office reorganization, but I doubt if you get any work done via this method.

Fourth, ice is now a valuable asset.  You could pull up to any intersection in half of DC....offer up $1.50 bags of ice for $2.25....and you'd sell out a thousand bags in a matter of thirty minutes.  Six refrigeration trucks and a crew of two for each....could whip up $150k of profits for each day easily.  You figure a minimum of five more days and you could retire by Saturday.

Fifth, no one is sure about how the Fourth of July will go.  Folks that had full freezers of beef last weekend....will toss most out by this morning.  I'm guessing people will run off to the grocery....buy some hot-dogs and just make the best out of a bad situation.

Sixth and final.....we are now seeing folks come up with carbon monoxide poisoning....from having their little generator running constantly in the basement.  Course, hidden in the five-page instruction book for each of these home generator systems....there's this comment about keeping it in an open airy area.  Folks are fearful of their generator being stolen.....so they put it in the basement.  At the end of this mess....I suspect at least ten thousand generators will be sold via Wal-Mart or Home-Depot over the next couple of months.

Reality of Government Life

I work for a military organization, and we have this nifty thing called "recall".  Basically, someone decides that we need to establish contact and ensure folks are accountable and OK.  It has a purpose, if you think about military discipline.

Well....today....roughly forty hours after the big storm here in DC....my organization (all 2700-odd folks) decided that even though it was kinda late in the game....they wanted to do a telephone recall.

So I had our small organization 24-hour office called me up and wanted me to verify the eleven-odd folks in my group.  The one guy who is two blocks away....was not an issue (mind you, he doesn't have any electrical yet....forty hours going into this).

Then I called onto the next ten folks, and nothing. No answer on the regular phone or the cellphone.  My guess is that they don't have power in the home, so their phone isn't working.  And their cellphone probably has run out of juice.  They aren't getting any of these emails or phone-calls about the stupid recall.

I report back only what I can perceive.....no one can communicate.

In the old days....the Colonel would have appointed Sargent Snuffy and Airman Perky.....to drive the government van around from home to home.....confirming if folks are OK.  I'm kinda hoping they don't go to this extent....I just don't care about getting into a van and driving around in darkness of DC, Maryland, or Virginia for five hours and hunting folks down to confirm things.  Maybe if I had a pistol, it might be OK, but otherwise, I just ain't feeling comfy about this.

As for what happens tomorrow?  If I were a betting man, I'd say the whole US government operation in DC will be shut down because no one much has power or electricity.  I'd even have doubts about most of the government buildings in DC having power.

So the best I can say is that this storm whooped up on a million-odd government employees....who probably will get a day off, but there just ain't nothing to do but sit in 95-degree temperatures under the one remaining tree in the yard, drink warm beer, discuss Justice Roberts logic for the forty-sixth time with your drunk neighbor, and get a free day off from work.  Sadly, you just can't make stuff like this up.