Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hurricane Matthew and how we went for almost 48 hours without power.

Hurricane Matthew dumped a lot of rain on North Carolina last weekend.  We got around 8" here in Raleigh.  It wasn't a fun experience, but compared to the devastation in Haiti and even other parts of our state still deluged with flood waters, we didn't have much to complain about.  We were without power for roughly 46 hours.  Thankfully we were fairly prepared (it's the Boy Scout motto).

We knew that the hurricane was coming, but we had no idea how bad it was going to be.  I filled both vehicles with gas earlier in the week, and tested the chainsaw.  The rain and wind started Saturday morning.  I had my counter top ice machine going and was adding ice to the chest freezer.  We were pretty much stuck inside at that point.  All we could do was wait.
The creek on my property during the hurricane, and the day after.
The power went out around 2:30 in the afternoon.  I was naive and was holding out hope that it wouldn't be out for very long.  I was wrong.  It didn't come back on until Monday at 12:30.

Saturday night I got out my MSR Pocket Rocket backpacking stove and some freeze dried Mountain House meals for dinner.  (I only buy the buckets of Mountain House when Amazon has them on a daily deal for $48 or less.)
For light in the kitchen I used a 5ft. Luminoodle LED rope light and an LED lantern.  The Luminoodle has a USB connection and connects to any USB power source.  Speaking of USB power sources, I have multiple USB batteries.  The main one I used is a 20,000mAh Limefuel battery bank.  The other is a RAVpower 6000 mAh travel router.  Those two batteries kept our phones charged and powered the Luminoodle for hours.

I used a Schumacher car battery jump starter to keep my living room lit.  It has a 200 watt inverter.  I plugged three lamps in and the room was as bright as usual.  I had Cree LED bulbs in the lamps, so they hardly drew any power.

We kept ourselves entertained by playing card games and reading books.

One of the other really useful things we had were LED motion lights.  I keep these throughout the house all the time.  They really came in handy with the power out.  I have two types.  

The Eteckcity lights to the right are generally very nice.  They plug into the wall and stay charged.  When the power goes out you can remove them from the wall and use them like a flashlight.  The biggest drawback I found (and it's a big one) is that the batteries in them die in just a few hours.  They didn't last very long at all once the power was out.  

The lights that actually worked better in this situation where the AA battery powered Mr. Beams lights.  They are a little annoying during normal use because I have to take the batteries out every 2-3 weeks and recharge them.  But unlike the Eteckcity lights they lasted the entire time we were without power.

There's one other really useful item that I couldn't have done without.  My 32 oz. thermos!  I used my Coleman stove to make coffee with an old fashioned percolator coffee pot.  We drank our usual amount of morning coffee and the rest went into the thermos.  That kept it hot all day!  There was no need to fire up the stove again for more coffee later in the day.  I just got it from the thermos.

So what didn't work so great? 

There were a few things that didn't go very well.  We had difficulty keeping the refrigerator and chest freezer cold. We kept both closed as much as possible to keep the cold in.  We were able to keep an eye on the temperatures by using a wireless indoor/outdoor thermometer and remote wireless thermometers.  I normally keep one of the remote units outside and the other in the garage.  It made more sense to put them in the freezers once the power went out.

Anyway...  We knew the temperatures were rising in both.  The freezer in the kitchen eventually got above 32*, but the one in the garage only got to 30*.  I lucked out and was able to run it for a little while Sunday afternoon.  I hooked up an 800w inverter to the battery of my car.  It wouldn't start the freezer Sunday morning, or Sunday night, but somehow it worked when I tried in the afternoon.  The freezer only draws 100w or so when it's running.  The problem is the huge spike in power when it first starts.  It draws more than 800 watts which caused the inverter to fault.  Like I said, I lucked out and it worked once.  I don't know why, but it isn't reliable for running the freezer.  It did however run the counter top ice maker like a champ.  I made several pounds of ice during the day.  I'm not sure how helpful it was, but I did it anyway.  And since I had the car running to make ice, I plugged in my USB batteries and the Schumacher jump pack and charged them.

In the end we did end up losing a lot of food.  On the bright side though, our kitchen fridge hasn't been this clean in a long time!  It looks brand new.

So what did I learn?

I learned that I was fairly prepared, but not enough.  I'm going to look at generators and I'm sure I'll have one before next year's hurricane season.  I don't want anything huge.  I just need a 2000w unit that can run the fridge and freezer every couple of hours to keep them cold.  Otherwise I don't think there's a whole lot that I would do differently. 

No comments:

Post a Comment