7 Lessons We Learned From The Great Power Outage of 2020

We’ve all been having a very fun last few weeks, right? Everything has been calm, nothing bad has happened, Oklahoma and the rest of the country haven’t experienced any turbulence.

Oh, except for… everything that’s happened the last few weeks.

With everything leading up to election week, it was already a stressful time, and then you had Mike Morgan going on TV to scare us into believing we’re gonna have a major ice storm. Normally, I’d think, “Yeah right” – which I kinda did – but in the back of my brain, I knew we were about to have the most 2020 week of 2020.

Hopefully, if you’re reading this your power has been restored. It was 12 days and some subsequent outages for me, and I know a lotta people had it worse. We had plenty of time to site in the dark and reflect, so here’s what we learned:

OG&E Sucks

This is not news to anyone who’s lived in Oklahoma for any stretch of their lives, but goddamn did they bungle the response to this ice storm. As we documented, they kept sending out messages moving back the goalposts of power restoration, which is frustrating when you’re sitting in the dark wearing three layers of clothes under two blankets. That first weekend, they prioritized places like Enid, which DO NOT GET ME WRONG those people absolutely need power too, over the dense urban core. But wouldn’t it be more efficient to focus on areas where more people live in tighter clusters? And how about they just drop down the money to bury the lines because they know this shit happens every other year?

(Shout out to the line workers though, y’all work hard and I appreciate you.)

Don’t Stock the Fridge

We made the mistake of hitting the grocery store the day before the ice storm in the misguided notion that we’d just be stuck at home for a few days. $100 later, we were set. And then the power snapped out. We fit what we could into ice chests, but still ended up having to throw out a lot of perishables and deep clean the rancid refrigerator. Next time, stick to tinned sardines and crackers.

Invest in generators and/or extension cords

After the ice storm, you could hear who the big ballers are in your neighborhood by stepping outside and listening for the humming vibrations of generators. If you’re rich and have the money to drop on one, do it. If not, get some extension cords. One weird thing about the ice storm is how people on one side of a street only lost power for a few hours, while people on the other side of the street lost it for over a week. This resulted in local neighborhood streets being crisscrossed with orange extension cords, serving as a gentle reminder that at least there are a few cool neighbors still left out there.

Reading is Essential

Of course a catastrophic power outage would happen during a week when the news was going bonkers and all you wanted to do was doomscroll Twitter. But when you gotta preserve that precious phone juice, what do you do? Reach into that bookshelf. I read more books and old magazines over the last two weeks than I have the rest of the year combined. At least, until 5pm hit and my apartment was pitch black.

Oklahoma drivers don’t know what to do when lights go out at intersections

Everyone thinks that their state has the worst drivers, but seriously – Oklahoma has the worst drivers. To see this, just watch them try to navigate an intersection without working traffic signals. They all turn into indecisive squirrels darting into a road, not sure whether to stop, go or just get hit.

Know a Tree Guy

I live in a very tree-heavy neighborhood, which is normally lovely, at least until they all collapse and are strewn about the streets and collapsing the power lines. OG&E won’t touch em, so make friends with a guy that owns a chainsaw and a giant truck. That’s not normally the crowd I hang with, but I’m sure if I spent enough time at a sports bar in Yukon I could charm my way into finding one.

For what it’s worth, we do know a tree guy if you need one:

Don’t Take Electricity For Granted

This was a very good ‘check your privilege’ moment. We rely so much on having electricity, from needing to charge your phone or laptop, having wi-fi, watching television, having heat and hot water, keeping our food cold. There’s a lot of people who have to deal with that every day, and many of them don’t even have a shelter to bunker up into. Yes, it was a frustrating experience, but somebody’s always got it worse.