Weighing the Cost and Doing Nothing

Taking my daily constitutional was a daunting task. This was a problem on this side of the street...

Taking my daily constitutional was a daunting task. This was a problem on this side of the street…

This was the scene on the other side of the street.

This was the scene on the other side of the street.

Another neighborhood, another tree down.

Another neighborhood, another tree down.

A tree down near a children's day care center at a church.

A tree down near a children’s day care center at a church.

A tree blown blocking the sidewalk in front of a building housing seniors.

A tree blocking the sidewalk in front of a building housing seniors.

There have been so many ‘super storms’ that have impacted millions of people all across the United States with billions of dollars in damages resulting from trees knocking down power lines, falling on homes, vehicles and across roadways and yet, we’re still pondering the question, “is it too costly to bury the lines?” It is too costly NOT to because severe weather is here to stay and unfortunately, we have seriously neglected the infrastructure of this country for far too long. We sigh about the cost and yet, each and every year, there are many states that have been declared ‘disaster areas’. Last year, in Virginia, a derecho(an intense fast-moving windstorm that moves across great distances and packs an enormous punch) blew through and hundreds of thousands of people were without power with many not seeing restoration for 10 days or more. They are so prevalent where I was living that even employees of APCO(American Electric Power Company)have generators. Even though we were paying a ‘reliability surcharge’ which is in effect, a charge added on to the bill that is supposed to cover preventive maintenance by the power company to prune branches and tree limbs from hanging over power lines. The surcharge is meaningless because the tree branches were meeting each other across many roads and streets. This was just another useless charge for the power company to make money for doing nothing.

When we calculate the cost of insurance claims, government disaster relief aid, the cost of re-wiring the poles, etc., we are paying one hell of a price over and over again because our form of electric distribution is sadly outdated. Often times, we neglect preventive maintenance until after it is too late. Much like with the I-35W bridge collapse in Minnesota on August 1, 2007 and only then were reports made available that highlighted the fact that many bridges had severe structural deficiencies. The majority are still awaiting replacement. We have the means to bring America into the 21st century, what we don’t have is the desire to. Shame on ‘U.S.’!

A few weeks ago a severe windstorm caused hundreds of thousands to go without power in Minnesota. This occurred on a Friday and my power was restored in the wee hours Sunday morning. Thankfully, since I’m not a very good cook, I had no food to lose. Not to mention that since I am originally from an area that gets its fair share and more of windstorms and other super storms, I am quite used to going 6 or more days without power. Thankfully I don’t have a medical condition that would require me to use oxygen or have other medical issues that would make it impossible for me to exist without electricity. There are countless numbers of others who are not so lucky or as some would say, blessed.

I can honestly say that things are getting worse because after I left Virginia and moved back to Minnesota, I was joking and laughing about the fact that in the nine years that I had previously lived in Minnesota, the power had only gone out twice and only for a couple of hours each time as opposed to the several days of outages in Virginia. Well..I had to eat my words about how living in a big city keeps your power on as opposed to small town rural living because this recent storm in Minnesota opened my eyes to the fact that it can happen here as well. Severe weather is now severely impacting the entire United States and it is only going to get worse! It is way past the time to act.

Power line down and still lying near the street.

Power line down and still lying near the street.

Someone died at this intersection. Although, their death was not caused by the storm, apparently it was thought to be a fitting memorial for the death of the tree also.

Someone died at this intersection. Although, their death was not caused by the storm, apparently it was thought to be a fitting memorial for the death of the tree also.

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