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    Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    Q'plah!

    A close friend of mine lost her power in the first wave of storms and refused to come stay with us because they had too many animals to care for and did not wish to leave them. I definitely understand not wanting to leave one's animals, even if for overnight, and I am now sort of glad that they did not cave in to all of my prodding. I really don't know if I would have been able to take the added stress. I think nine people is a good limit for extended stretches of time. *chuckle*

    Anyway, I didn't start this to tell you how grateful I was for more room than I had expected to give up, or the honorability of giving up one's comfort for one's dear, sweet furry babies. I started writing this because of my signature line that ends every email I send; "Many small people, doing many small things, can and DO change the world.".

    See, my friend had a broken weatherhead. According to the city of Springfield, you had to have a master electrician repair your weatherhead before the utility company would hook your power back up, the cable company won't hook up your cable without the okay from the utility company, FEMA is only here to give aide to community orgs and governments, out-of-town electricians had to be re-lisenced in the city before they could work (giving the city loads upon loads of fees for testing, lisencing, and the like), and patience was indeed a virtue.

    Then we found out a few things.
    * FEMA didn't know any individuals needed help because the city council and the news stations had told everyone to not call FEMA! You should call FEMA!

    * As long as your wires in your weatherhead were still intact, you could have your power hooked back up.

    * The utility company had no clue how many people were really out of electricity, but were rather running an estimate of the numbers based on how many people had called in each day. Some neighborhoods, they didn't know were out at all because people were, again, being told not to call amd complain because things were being taken care of as best they could be.

    * Patience, as well as trust in companies and the government are bad ideas in the best of times, much less an emergency situation.

    And so we come to our story. My friend, she hasn't got a lot of patience, especially when she is tired, cold, hungry, and her delicately-healthed children are freezing in her home while her husband goes to work every day and scours the city for an overpriced generator in the evenings.
    She called city hall. She called the utility company. She called the cable company. She called a friend of hers (a master electrician who lives in a neighboring city) and he offered to do the repair for free if he would be allowed to. She called the city council members in their homes. She called the mayor and threatened to feed him his teeth if something positive didn't happen very soon, stating clearly that she did not care if she went to jail because at least she'd get on TV and jail was warm!

    Now I'm not saying her methods were the best or most polite, but they worked!

    Within two hours of her calling the mayor of Springfield, her husband had recieved a call on his cell phone from the mayor himself, saying that he was calling an emergency council meeting. Not long after that, two trucks pulled up in front of their house and started cleaning up tree limbs and hooking up electricity to their broken-off-of-the-roof-with-wires-still-attatched weatherhead without it being repaired properly (or at all). Three hours later, they recieved another call, saying that her friend could come in and repair the weatherhead as soon as he'd like, as the council had temporarily revoked the law requiring re-lisencing of electricians not certified inside the town for the storm only.

    She and her family now have power. So do most of the homes on her block, because she stood up and said something. Hundreds more people in town have electric because they could get their weatherheads fixed, because she refused to sit back and wait patiently. She changed a law, called the city to action, and made the world a better place for those in need because she didn't trust the government to do what they promised without some prompting.

    Here's to individual action! Huzzah!

    2 comments:

    Heather said...

    You go crazy-phone lady! Hahahaha. I jest about the name. Congrats!

    Anonymous said...

    I dont understand why FEMA isnt helping individuals