Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Power Outages and Why


Power outages can be frequent in Western Tennessee. Virtually everyone has a generator. I had a generator at the construction site because I built for the first year without service to the address. I just always keep it fueled up and plenty of gas in reserve. Windstorms or tornadoes seem to happen about 12 months out of the year down here.

We have had a number of close calls with windstorms but they always just missed us. One night about five years ago, we had just arrived at out cabin in Big Sandy to do some maintenance. I hadn’t even got the tools out of the truck when the rain struck. It usually rains with a vengeance, and wind. We retreated to the house and shortly after the power went out. When the storm passed, we headed back home, only to find a big tree over the road, blocking our path.

In 2020 we went to Nashville on March 2nd to see Collective Soul at the Ryman. After the concert we discussed stopping at one of the restaurants on Broadway for dessert but decided to head home. On the drive home I could see an angry lightning storm behind us. When we turned on the news at home, we saw that a tornado had struck about two blocks from the concert venue we attended.

Three years ago, while we still lived on the Cumberland River and had just started building our new house on the Tennessee River, a big storm came through. The tornado passed within a mile of our home under construction, jumped the river and tore up a path heading east, destroying homes within in a couple miles of where we lived twenty miles away. We were in Minnesota at the time and were quite surprised at the devastation when we returned. I recall driving down Cypress Road and observing the trees flattened out across the landscape, thinking I was going to be cleaning up debris instead of building a house.

Last winter we were in the yard putting chairs away because wind gusts were forecast within the hour. We stood and watched as one tree toppled over in the woods across the road. Then we heard a crash about a quarter mile down the road. We could see the power line on the ground and knew what the outcome would be. I pulled the generator up from the garage and plugged it in and fired it up.

So, this December when I arrived, I had to reset all the digital clocks in the house. It is just a fact of life. I had only been home one day, when the following evening the lights flickered and went off. After lighting a couple candles, I decided to go to bed rather than start the generator. I woke up a couple hours later and the power was back on. The next day I was talking to my neighbor Harry, who lives about a mile down the road. Since there was no wind that night, we supposed it was one of the local boys with too much beer and too little common sense behind the wheel of his pickup who had run into a power pole somewhere.

A couple days later I was walking my dog and I stopped to visit with my neighbor, the mayor. Before he retired, he was the mayor in Pulaski, Tennessee, so everyone calls him the mayor. He asked me if I saw what caused the electrical outage. He had the pictures on his phone. He was coming home that Friday evening and a guy had just hit a power pole in the ditch. It sheared off the pole and he continued down the ditch a hundred yards before crashing into a house and the vehicle was lodged in the living room. All that was visible was the rear end of the car framed by the red bricks of the house. Was a Friday night so I guess one could expect it. The funny part of all these intoxicated mishaps is that after living in Stewart County for five years I learned it was a dry county.