Original Date of Publication: 3/29/11
I’ve had trouble deciding on the topic for today’s column. For the last few days, I found myself torn between two issues: 1) the value “perspective” plays in our lives and; 2) how grateful I am to live in a community full of responsive, hard working people, who turned a potential disaster into a rather inconvenient but manageable event.
On March 17, a truck driver had the misfortune of entangling his delivery van in the guy wires that secure the power pole across from two buildings my husband and I own. (My office is housed in one of them, a lovely 130 year old Victorian.) As the driver pulled away from the curb, the pole snapped in half and came crashing down into the street. Then things got really ugly. Everyone within miles was instantly without power – apparently, 2,900 of us total.
But it was the string of buildings along our block that took the major hit. Power surged into my building, blowing out a gas line and water heater. (If you’re ever going to have a fire make sure it is directly below a broken water pipe! Crisis averted!) We lost our furnace, the carpet and linoleum was flooded, phone lines fried, equipment toasted … the list goes on and on.
But life in a small town has its rewards. The Arcata Police Department is literally a half block away and the Fire Department is just up the street. Help arrived in the blink of an eye!
What followed was pretty miserable – the Victorian was entirely out of commission. (The newer building faired a bit better but our tenants had their own challenges.) Both PG&E, AT&T worked around the clock restoring services. My husband and I were on deck immediately, coordinating the emergency services company, electricians, plumbers, the City of Arcata, and our tenants. Yep, it was a bit of a pain.
But here’s where “perspective” comes into play. From the moment I got the first call, all I could think about was that no one had been hurt. I mean, think about it – an old growth redwood Victorian? What are the odds? And then,I kept thinking “we don’t live in Japan.”
We would be fine. Inconvenienced? Absolutely but given the situation in the big old world around us, I was quite aware that what we were dealing with was relatively small potatoes. We had our lives, our buildings. No one was missing or injured. Our future economic security was still in place. Our cell phones worked. Water and food were plentiful and clean.
Yep, keeping a realistic and honest perspective is surely one of the best approaches to take, no matter what the circumstances.
I can’t close without expressing my gratitude to each and every person who helped get us back up and running.
My thanks to PG&E and AT&T for their quick response and tireless approach to problem solving. New Life Service arrived on the scene within the hour and stayed until the job was done, days later. Our likable and conscientious plumber Zach, of “Plumber Man”, was there in a jiffy. His attention to gas lines and all things water related was invaluable. Trinidad Electric managed to get there quickly too, systematically checking out both buildings. All electrical repairs were accomplished in record time. KC Mechanical hustled to install the new furnace. Carpet Express – a reliable company who provides consistently great service – continues to work closely with us and our insurance company to make sure all of the ruined flooring is replaced. We even had to get a couple of building permits from the City of Arcata. Honestly? It was like going to your favorite fast food joint – super friendly counter staff and BAM! “Order up!” Finally, my hat is off to Kathy Lewis and Capital Insurance Group. Forget all of those horror stories you’ve heard about some insurance companies. We have nothing but good things to report!