On Friday Night December 26th at 6:45 PM I was sitting on my Lanai (Porch) Watching a spectacular lightning storm dance up the Kooalau Mountain range when the power went out. Not just a little bit out, the whole valley below me was dark. All of Kaneohe! Cable was down too! No Food Network Iorn Chef!!!
I do have some serious APC Back Up Batteries, but didn’t want to use them up… who knows how long this was going to last? So I fired up my emergency lights and cell phone and got online to Twitter via my T-Mobile Dash Smartphone.
Twitter, for those of you who may not be familiar with it, is a social networking site where you can post short messages called Tweets. People follow your tweets and you can follow theirs. So instantly I was in contact with people all over the island and able to find out the extent of the power outage.
The whole Island of Oahu was in the dark. I Tweeted back and forth to find traffic lights were down, people were stuck in elevators and in many areas there was no water! The airport was dark, flights were being cancelled, travelers stranded. Tourists swarmed out of their darkened hotels in Waikiki to fill the streets inquiring what was going on! Twitpics (Pictures posted to Twitter) showed the extent of the mess island wide.
So it happened that our illustrious Mayor Mufi Hanneman’s first order of business was to deliver emergency generators to the 9 million dollar beach front estate on the windward town of Kailua where Barack Obama and his family were vacationing. Uh, Mufi? I pay your salary: can you decide your first order of business is the safety and disseminating information about the situation to your constituents? Guess not. Three generators had already been installed in the vacation home and HECO set up another generator in the neighborhood in case it was needed. But what about MY refrigerator? MY needs? MY warming beer?
By now my fellow Twitterers were on the ball and furiously Tweeting back and forth. We all found out that that Hawaiian Electric thought a lightning strike was responsible or maybe not. We kept tabs on each other throughout the night. By morning some areas had power back on, mostly those closest to the Generating Stations on the leeward side of the island. The only area on the windward side of the island to have power back on Saturday morning was Kailua. (See above ref: Guess who was staying in Kailua?)
My power came back on at 12:45 PM on Saturday, approximately 18 hours after shutting down. Right when my power came back on I saw a huge oily plume of smoke rise up out of the valley . A major fire had erupted close to the Kaneohe Power Plant! I was able to snap it on my phone and Twitpic it: who had any more information? Was everybody safe? Was the power going down again?
Today I’m thankful I live in a safe neighborhood, neighbors are good people. Realized I should have had an extra case of bottled water, kept my old propane BBQ and bought more emergency lights and batteries. So I will put those things on my shopping list in case the next time around I’m in the dark longer. As of today, Sunday afternoon, there are still some areas of Oahu without power . Water is to be conserved island wide. And Twitter is not to be dismissed lightly as a toy, as some will say. It kept our whole community connected and informed when the traditional airwaves and media could not.
Twitter is my friend.