In 2010 Hurricane Richard a Category 1 hurricane hit on October 25th. There was tremendous yard damage due to fallen trees. I was without power for one week. Truthfully all I remember is that it took nearly an entire month to clean the yard up and, in the end, I had a brush pile almost 10 feet wide, higher than my head by at least 40 feet long. I lost a ton of mature trees in my yard. No house damages.
On November 2nd Hurricane Lisa made landfall approximately 10 miles south of Belize City at 3:15 PM. Lisa made landfall with maximum sustained winds of 85mph. A State of Emergency was declared for Belize. It didn’t take long before the power went out. At 8 PM the curiosity was too much. I went outside with a flashlight. The front yard was total carnage of fallen trees everywhere.
Hurricane Lisa yard damage
The following morning my inspection discovered 3 trees went down with 2 trees sustaining heavy damage in my yard. And actually, the damage was not as bad as Hurricane Richard. I would also lose 2 large trees in my coconut field and lose 3 mature coconut trees at my ponds. The ¾ acre lot I have connecting my house lot to the Belize River sustained a lot of tree damage. I predicted to be without power for at least a week. I was a little off with that prediction. I would be without power for 23 days.
I had a few Followers reach out about how I lived without power for that long for interest’s sake and possibly for reference and learning purposes if they themselves ever found themselves in such a situation. I doubt too many people will live without power for so long but we do live in a time when storms are becoming fiercer. That being said Hurricane Fiona hit PEI, Canada on September 23rd just past and my parents ended up also going 3 weeks without power. So, anything is possible.
I do suspect my situation is a little unique but that doesn’t mean nothing can’t be learned.
Hurricane Lisa yard damage
The circumstances to why it took so long for my power to be restored
Unless someone tells me differently, I will assume that I was the last person to be restored with power in Belize as a result of Hurricane Lisa. My situation is that I live at the end of a 2 mile dead-end dirt road that for most of the year is not passable by regular or heavy vehicles. My power line comes from across the Belize River from a different village called Isabella Bank. At one time and possibly even to this day, our power line is the only power line that actually crosses a river in such a manner in Belize.
I made multiple calls and sent multiple messages to the power company as to what the delays were for the restoration of the power. Finally, they were able to confirm that they could not get heavy trucks down my road. I replied that I was certain that there was no need to inspect the lines on this side of the river but if they felt better about inspecting the lines, they could easily come down with a 4×4 pick truck and a ladder. Three days later they finally made it down my road and restored power.
Hurricane Lisa yard damage
From November 10th until the 20th, I would actually get power for 1 to 2 hours each day. At first, I thought this was because of the power company. It turned out that it was a result of my ex-property manager’s generator. There are 2 other people living on this farm. A Belizean and my ex-property managers. I do not speak to my ex-property managers. The husband is currently in Canada and the wife is by herself with helpers from the village. The husband apparently had the generator wired up to send power to everyone’s house. That was until the generator burned out from being too old and 3 houses being too much strain on the machine. The 1-2 hours of power a day was helpful for charging phones, my laptop and temporarily running the fridge for a cold drink.
My biggest headaches with no power for 23 days
The biggest headache by far was no fridge. No fridge means no cold drinks and no fresh food. I am a very fussy eater and Belize offers a very limited selection of imported processed food that I will eat. For the most part, unless I was in the city, I survived off of 4 foods – Kraft Dinner macaroni, Chef Boyardee, Ramen noodle soup and fried eggs. I had fried eggs for breakfast a few times when I had eggs available to me and I had noodle soup only a few times as that is hardly a meal. I would say 90% of the 23 days I had Chef Boyardee for breakfast and Kraft Dinner for supper day in and day out. And that sucked. Most people will never have that problem. I was able to make my meals because I had my stove and fuel from my bike ride. A few times I also ran up to the village to charge my phone.
I ate way too much of this stuff
What I had going in my favor with no power for 23 days?
This has actually been a very tough year for me. So, in one sense the headaches were same old, same old for me. My water is on solar power. So, I never lost the use of my water faucets, toilet or shower. One of my biggest pluses was that only a year ago I completed a 2 year bike ride across Canada, through the USA and through Mexico. Living without power was nothing new to me and I had most of the necessary supplies to help me get through the power outage. I had a headlamp, battery packs and a multi-fuel camping stove. If you have food and water then you pretty much have everything you need to survive a multiday power outage.
How did I get by day by day?
Luckily, my days are spent outside every day all day anyways. There were certain jobs I could not tackle with no power but I always have more work than I will ever get done that does not require power tools. The part that sucked was no cold drinks after working in the tropical heat.
I stopped taking hot showers months ago (my hot water tank has an on/off switch. So, room-temperature showers were nothing new to me.
With the power coming on for an hour or two for the time it did I was able to charge my laptop for evening entertainment and my phone. It gets dark in Belize at 5:30 PM. If my laptop was drained of power, I read with my headlamp.
Suggestions on surviving a prolonged power outage
My guess is the internet has close to a million blog posts on surviving the apocalyptic end of times. For the purposes of this post, I will just name a few things that I did to help get you by for a week or two.
Have a headlamp with multiple batteries that are ideally charged via USB port. Make sure all batteries are charged in full prior to the storm hitting. When using the headlamp use the low setting. The low setting is generally good enough and will prolong the use of the battery for a very long time.
Have a camping stove for cooking. I have an MSR Dragonfly stove which is awesome as it is a multi-fuel use stove. I actually lived off my camping fuel from my bike ride for 80% of my power outage and then switch to regular gasoline when I ran out of camping fuel. Regardless, make sure you have lots of fuel. Also, start up your stove once before the storm hits so that you know everything is working. And you still have an internet signal to troubleshoot any issues.
MSR Dragonfly multi-fuel stove. You can’t go wrong with one of these.
Battery banks are awesome. That was the number one way I kept electronics charged while on my bike ride. Better to have quality banks that hold lots of power that can keep your phone charged multiple times. Battery banks can charge anything USB. That’s why it’s good to have a headlamp with USB rechargeable batteries. Make sure battery banks are fully charged before the storm hits.
Also, a good idea is to have extra drinking water and fill any buckets with water for toilet flushing. Other extras include lots of fresh batteries for any flashlights that are not USB rechargeable. If you have a chainsaw and haven’t used it in a while start it up and make sure it’s in working order. If you have a laptop, try not to use it unnecessarily after the power goes out. Better for the power to come back on with battery power left than to run out of batteries and not be able to access an important document or file in an emergency.
I only have a bar freezer so things thaw out very quickly for me. If I had a regular freezer, I would probably fill it with as many water bottles as I could fit in it before the storm hits. A full freezer with stay frozen longer. You never know, the power might just come on before everything thaws out.
23 days without power
I won’t deny it wasn’t frustrating. Some people said they didn’t know how I could go so long without power. If you’re one of those people I suggest you figure it out. The day is probably coming and ultimately the older you get the harder it will be on you.