Hurricane Irene – Blackouts and Being Left Behind in NYC

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Scotch and I didn’t pay our Dubai electricity bill for over 8 months and inevitably our electricity was cut off. This happened just a few months ago.

We did make a few attempts to pay our bills so it wasn’t from complete lack of trying. It’s just that the Dubai online payment system would time-out at the credit card processing page each and every time we tried to pay.

After each unsuccessful attempt, I just threw the bill away in frustration and didn’t think about it until the next bill arrived.

Fast forward 8 months later, Wee Scotch is napping and I’m blogging at my computer when suddenly the laptop screen dimmed and all the white noise in the apartment abruptly stopped and it became dead quiet. Uh-Oh!

It took about 48 hours for the power to be turned back on and we had to resort to candles to illuminate the house and take-out for dinner since our stove was also electric.

I refrained from opening the fridge too much but the next morning, an idea suddenly dawned on me.

The electricity in our apartment was cut off, but there was still electricity in the rest of the building.

So I grabbed an extension cord from the storage room, went outside of our apartment, plugged one end of the cord into the hallway socket, and then went back into my apartment and plugged the other end into the fridge.


Voila! Electricity problem solved! Well, sort of.

While the fridge was being powered by one hallway socket, I used the other sockets to charge my iPhone and laptop, and another one to run the electric kettle. I may have even pirated internet.

Wee Scotch Investigating
Wee Scotch in his PJs and Investigating What Mama is Up To

Is that what it’s like to be a squatter?

When Hurricane Irene reached us in NYC, it was already downgraded to a tropical storm. But the winds were strong enough to knock down a tree on my street which caused a blackout for my entire block.

Before the Storm
The “Before Photo” of my Parents’ Yard (it normally doesn’t have clams in it).

As I went to bed on Friday night, the heavy rains that had started earlier quickly turned into torrential downpours, lightning and thunder filled the skies and set off car alarms, ferocious winds forcefully blew trees back and forth and howled all night long. Many times I thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t be sleeping right underneath a window?”

I should take better precautions next time. Especially after a friend of mine in Queens sent me this photo of a tree that had fallen against her apartment and only inches away from crashing into her bedroom window:

Tree Down in Queens
Tree Down in Queens from Tropical Storm Irene

The morning after the storm, I woke up to a lot of branches, leaves and other plant debris scattered all over houses, streets, and cars. We escaped any physical damage to our house but some of the homes around us had major flooding in their basements from the groundwater seeping up and the sound of generators pumping out water could be heard up and down the street. One lady was running the pump using her car’s DC outlet.

It continued to rain most of the morning. By afternoon the sun had come out but it was still terribly windy. So windy that we could not keep our windows open to enjoy the cool, breezy air because they are the type that open outwards and the wind kept banging them open-closed, open-closed, threatening to bust them out of their hinges.

After the Storm
The “After Photo” of my Parents’ Yard (littered with tree branches, debris and leaves).

My parent’s stove was powered by gas so we didn’t have to resort to take-out but for the 30+ hours that we were without electricity, I kept having this weird urge to plug an extension cord into a hallway socket to power the fridge.

I wasn’t the only one with this idea – I saw an orange extension cord come out of a nearby house, snake diagonally across the street, and plugged into an outdoor outlet two houses further down…how did they have power? More importantly, can I plug my cord into theirs too?

I have friends and family up and down the East Coast that are still without power so I feel extremely lucky that ours was restored relatively quickly.

Aside from the power outage, Irene also caused a major disruption to my travel plans. Wee Scotch and I were supposed to fly to Scotland on Saturday evening to spend two weeks with my in-laws but of course the flight was cancelled.

I was pretty much all packed by Friday and was keeping my fingers crossed that I could fly out Saturday evening since Hurricane Irene wasn’t expected in our area until late late Saturday.

Still hoping for the best, I checked in on-line 24 hours before my flight but within a few hours I had already received an email from my airline that the flight was cancelled.

The next morning, after being on hold with Expedia and British Airways for more hours than I thought was possible, the next available flight that they could book me on was the following Saturday so that meant one more week in New York.

Spending more time in NY certainly isn’t bad, but I had my mind already set on leaving and for a change of pace. My parents were of course ecstatic to have Wee Scotch for one more week.

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  1. I totally sympathise. Our phone line got cut in the office after they delivered the bill to the wrong PO Box so it didn’t get paid. Took an entire morning at the Etisalat offices before they reconnected us.

  2. Aw what a bummer your flight got cancelled! But it's nice to hear everyone is safe and sound. Your son is so adorable!! He looks like he's right about my son's age (20 months or so?) Don't you just love this age?! I hope you had a safe flight and made it to Scotland by now! Enjoy the rest of your week.