Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Lightning strikes in Florida are all too often remarkably powerful, thanks to huge, highly charged clouds that form over the state. Power surges and temporary blackouts are frequent and in most homes surge protectors are as common as can openers. Hardly a week passes that the clocks on bedside tables, stoves, and DVD players don’t have to be reset at least once. Taking it a step farther, Sea World, Orlando got a lightning jolt Monday that injured three visitors. Scary business. A lot of grumbling that the power companies are either doing something wrong or not doing something they should, and hard to understand why the problems in Florida’s electrical infrastructure can’t be solved. Someone explained the other day that the difficulty stems from the fact that power lines are above ground. Maybe so, but I lived for years in a place that rarely has blackouts or power outages where everything is above ground.

Saturday was a day of thunderstorms at the beach and from noon onward rumbles of thunder were rolling up and down the beach, spasms of lightning spiking the ocean out near the horizon. Beach empty of all but the occasional beach patrol truck and its flashing red lights, the thunder and lightning grew worse, calling up spatters of wind torn rain making it clear that outdoor fun was finished for a while. The other side of the coin in this unusually dry summer is the real need for rain, and if it continued for several days and nights most would be happy in the wetness of it all.

Sometime just past midnight on Sunday morning a sudden overhead explosion shook this entire building, but strangely didn’t appear to wobble much indoors. No blinking lights, crackle of challenged electrical outlets or sudden blackness. Television turned off, computer powered down, lights switched off, I went to bed thinking this particular electrical storm hadn’t had much bite.

Yeah well, the bite was very bad, just not evident until the next morning. First problem was the discovery of a fried Internet connection. In the kitchen I grabbed a bottle of cranberry juice from the fridge and winced at the lukewarm flavor. Minutes later someone wandered down the walk and catching my attention asked what the big early a.m. explosion was, adding that the elevators were not working. I didn’t have an answer for either. I reached in the freezer to get some ice later and came up with tepid water and not a shard of ice—alarm bells in my head. My refrigerator had been assassinated by the explosive lightning strike that also took out the elevators and the Internet.

A repair man was here by 4:00, and after replacing one important-looking part in the appliance’s nether regions, discovered the blast had also knocked out the fan motor. Naturally, the particular model of fan motor required by my refrigetorium had to be ordered. It would be asking too much to hope there might have been a matching model in the repairman’s truck.

Empty refrigerator now, with a heap of food tossed and another box of perishables taking up space in a neighbor’s fridge, miraculously still working. I’m living out of an ice chest and spent the day scrubbing the smell of shrimp out of the still dead icebox.


  1. Nature always reminds us of who is in charge (no pun intended). Reading the particulars of your plight reminded me of mine a few years ago after the devastation of Hurricane Gustav. Except no electricity and spoiled food and the hunt for ice went on for over a week. Reading by hurricane lamp and news reports via a hand-crank radio supplied plenty of new perspective.

  2. Had I had my computer up and running I would have written to tell you to go use my fridge next door or 103. Anytime that happens.....feel free.

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    right away...

    (VIDEO) Have your ex CRAWLING back to you...?


About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America