Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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Greg Jordan

July 5, 2012

Power outage scene in Fayette County comparable to the zombie apocalypse

The zombies are walking! I have to admit that the word “apocalypse” was in my mind when I went to my parents’ home in Fayette County and saw the destruction. I noticed dead traffic lights when I approached Oak Hill, and then I saw the debris on the road and the broken trees all over the place. I reached my destination and the garage door didn’t go up. My mom came out and confirmed what I suspected. We didn’t have power.

Fortunately, my nephew A.J. — 16 years old and bigger than me — was there for a visit, and he was doing a good job helping out Mom and Dad. He was having an adventure, but he was quickly getting tired of it. Envision today’s teen with no television, no Internet, no iPod, no video games and worst of all, no cell phone. He later heard that his younger brother, Alex, safe at home in Charlotte, was complaining about having to help clean the house.  A.J. said he didn’t want to hear about it. Just try not having anything electric!

We talked, and soon our conversation turned to disasters and the most popular type right now, the zombie apocalypse, or plague, infestation or whatever you want to call it. A.J. said now that the power was off and people were scrambling for gas and supplies, it was about time to start hearing reports of the wandering dead. That’s the way the zombie emergency usually starts in the movies. Especially mangy-looking hitchhikers start appearing along the road or some stranger in the distance lets out a horrible moan when you’re spotted.

We listened to a local radio station dispensing news and asking callers to share whatever they had learned. A.J. and I joked that we ought to call and report a zombie sighting — the zombies are walking! — but, of course, we didn’t.

A.J. plays a zombie video game, and he said that the best place for us to take refuge was on the roof. I remembered hearing that the best firearm to have in such a situation is a hunting rifle or a shotgun; you have an easier time finding ammunition for them. A.J. even said that a friend of his has a zombie bug-out bag; a bag with all the essentials for survival.

I do have to admit that the popularity of zombie movies and games has sparked a new interest in being prepared for an emergency. The zombie movies almost always involve the loss of essential services such as electricity and water, panic and general lawlessness. What they leave out is zombie sightseeing. I’m sure we had people roaming around for no better reason than to look at the damage, and I’m sure a zombie plague would draw the curious, too.

After a couple of days of heat and no electricity, I’m sure A.J. and I would have preferred a zombie problem. Why? You can’t shoot the heat! All we could do was help Mom and Dad stay cool. We all talked, played Monopoly – I learned never to sell my railroads to A.J. again  — and waited for the power to come back on.

Fortunately, the emergency demonstrated the good in people. One neighbor with a generator recharged Mom’s cell phone so she could stay in touch. Another cleared debris from the gutter, brought her some batteries, and helped put a fresh propane tank on the grill so Mom could do some cooking.

I went to the Walmart in Fayetteville when we heard it had power and bought some Spam and canned chicken, soup, water and other items. While I searched the aisles, I overheard people talking about the pioneer days when there was no electricity or running water, and how we’ve grown so dependent on both. I know the power grid is usually the first thing space aliens take out when they invade Earth, so I guess we would be in a mess if that happened. It’s funny when you think about it. If aliens invaded during, for instance, the Civil War, all their “take out the power grid” strategies wouldn’t work at all. Generals Grant and Lee didn’t use computers.

Well, I do use a computer. I always use electricity and running water. One commentator I heard said this should be a wake up call for people. Being prepared for emergencies is important. Having enough food, water, medicine and other supplies for at least three days is a good idea. After coping with the heat and no electricity for almost three days, I’ve decided to have a supply of bottled water and other goods.

The next emergency won’t be as exciting as zombies roaming the streets, but it will still be an emergency. I know if I prepare, I won’t be a burden on other people and I’ll be able to at least help my neighbors.

But if I start hearing about zombies, I’m putting together my zombie bug-out bag and heading for the high ground.

Greg Jordan is the Daily Telegraph’s senior reporter. Contact him at gjordan@bdtonline.com



 

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