AT first there was something charmingly old-fashioned about it: Dad, Mom and the children gathered around, reading by candlelight and flashlight; people idling with neighbors they scarcely knew before; lunches and dinners cooked on outdoor grills.
But the charm of a plague of darkness like the kind that struck Westchester three times this summer wears thin in today's ultra-wired universe. The children want to watch a DVD rather than turn the pages of a book or play gin rummy. They don't even know what gin rummy is. Husbands and wives need to check their e-mail 24/7, even on lazy holiday weekends. Cellphones and iPods need to be recharged. Trader Joe's frozen jasmine rice goes bad when the refrigerator dies.
The power failures that Westchester had -- from Ernesto on Labor Day weekend, a tornado and lesser windstorm in July and powerful storms earlier in the year -- were not the kind of encompassing grid failures that blacked out New York City in 1965, 1977 and 2003. Lights then were restored in a day or two.
But with Ernesto blowing down 1,300 trees and weekend utility crews spread exceedingly thin, whole neighborhoods had to cope without electricity for five or six days. The romance faded very quickly.
The supervisor of Greenburgh, Paul J. Feiner, who compared the ineffective response with that of a Third World country, has asked the utility to explore the merits of gradually burying power lines underground, where they won't be a subject to the whims of weather. He suggested that overhead lines might be as outdated as rotary-dial phones.Continue reading the main story