Blackout in Bondi: 30 hours without power
By Kit Shepherd, Transition Bondi
It was a slow realisation – that the electricity supply had been cut off. No, the food on the stove wasn’t getting hot, the fridge was no longer humming, and the phone couldn’t’ be recharged.
The internet too was now not working, so all the usual screen-based contact (that has saved us during COVID) was out of reach.
Adjusting to new circumstances is an interesting thing, getting the mind around the detail, and adjusting one’s expectations and plans. I don’t mind that sort of thing for a short while. It’s useful to have an interruption to the daily norm, being required to pivot, staying on the ball.
Luckily I live close to some cheap eateries, so I didn’t need to dine on bread and peanut butter!
The first thoughts were that it was just my flat, but the main switchboard didn’t show any useful signs. A kind neighbor helped follow the trail that led to the conclusion that the whole building – 14 units – were now cut off from electricity.
I didn’t know what to do next; that’s a lonely feeling; without phone and internet, help needed to be from neighbors or local shop keepers
My lifeline – the one neighbor who was active, could use his phone to look at the Ausgrid website. Possible times were given, but the said hours arrived and then were extended.
Night-time was dark (the whole street block was affected) – street lights off it was pitch black. A friend who I met on a reconnnoitre-ing walk lent me a nifty emergency solar lamp (made for the tsunami disaster in Aceh some years ago). That lamp was a friendly presence in my dark home.
Defying the dependence on power I played my ‘acoustic’ musical instrument – the recorder – to cut through the ominous sense of isolation, thumbing my nose at the dark, the silence, and serenading others cooped up in their dark, quiet homes.
How good it was to see the light coming again in the morning; how we love to be able to see! How good is Sun J
Next time I’ll be quicker to find alternate plans for recharging the devices and visiting friends in order to keep up the (tenuous) connection with networks and the world.
What felt like the perfect time to enjoy neighborliness turned out to be rather disappointing, despite my best efforts over years to bring people in the building together for pot-luck dinners for getting to know those who live on the other side of the wall!
Let’s see what happens when whole regions go down if the sun decides to send out an extra burst of radiation. Will our ‘community’ rally? Will we rediscover face-to-face contact, the value of geographical closeness, the importance of looking out for each other?
Our only problems were possible food spoilage-managed to get some ice to put some food on ice.
Luckily the weather was cool, so we could get away without a shower.
We have a stash of dynamo torches which worked rather well and some decent power packs for phones, so at least we could surf the net on the phones.
What it does show is how dependent we are on reliable power. Makes one think- what if the water supply also stopped and it was more than say a week without power ?
Like it or not, our civilisation is underpinned by reliable and affordable power.
Most people would be in trouble if the power went down for the whole of Sydney for a week. Restaurants and takeaway food outlets would be unable to function , so people would be rather hungry and rather angry.