Remembering ‘The Great Black Out of 2011’ in Ocean Beach

by on September 5, 2012 · 2 comments

in Culture, Energy, History, Ocean Beach

Point Loma Neighbors of OB Ragster Brittany Bailey were warning others about the power outage.

Some OBceans Are Planning Anniversary Block Parties

So, here we are one year along after what should only be described as a wake up call to Southern Californian’s – one year has passed since OBceans came together for The Great Black Out of 2011.

One year after someone “accidentally kicked a switch” and a multi-state black out ensued, and one year after OB’s own indomitable spirit spontaneously ignited, lighting the streets with BBQ’s and lawn parties.

A relatively minor event

Recall, the event itself was fairly innocuous even though it was the largest black out in California’s history. After losing power at approximately 3:40pm PDT on September 8th, 2011, power was eventually restored to all customers by 4:30am the following morning.

And a lot of folks made lemonade before the ice melted that day!

At least one happy group of folks in north OB have decided to re-convene on the anniversary of the black out. It’s not like OBceans need a reason to throw another party! A black out seems as good excuse as any for stoking the BBQ’s around our little town. After all, one of the most awesome three day weekends is only hours behind us. So, in the true sense of OB it only seems logical OBceans would be quick to make plans for planning another party and continuing our end of summer celebration!

And the story might end here, but for some it seems more than just another party.

For several OB clans, the sentiment behind the black out anniversary parties is simply to gather together, as before. More than an excuse to have a bash, they recall the camaraderie they shared at a time which could have become a true crisis. Not much of an exaggeration if you think of the challenges an extended power outage might have upon our community.

A lot of folks remember the temporary pleasure of being off-grid. Most seem to recall what an incredibly good time they had after venturing outside that evening, and the fun of hanging out next door with new friends and neighbors, even if it was due to a lack of options. That is, many of us took advantage of the free time to engage the neighbors, forced into the streets without the regular source of video’s, appliances and household amenities to entertain and occupy our attention.

Crisis? What crisis?

For many, the power outage gave us a chance to come together. Walking the OB flatlands on the evening of September 8, 2011, you probably would have noticed spontaneous BBQ’s and “collectives” all across town. Groups gathered around portable radios to listen to the game, while others planned pot-luck styled dinners. Who has candles? An extra ice chest? Ice? How about a portable radio? Flashlight? Batteries?

What a great meal we had that night, as our own friends pulled together a menu of items from half a dozen different apartments in the neighborhood.

Most importantly, more than a few of my crew recognized we had experienced a collective approach to solving some common problems. Within the first five minutes of texting our friends around the country, we knew the outage was affecting wide areas and we probably wouldn’t have electricity for awhile. That information was traversing our combined texting-tree’s far ahead of the radio broadcasts which later confirmed our reports.

As a direct result of the outage, my family now stocks a bit of additional drinking water. Not solely for us, since we already have a reserve along with our other emergency supplies. Actually, we now have a few extra bottles for our neighbors, too. Just in case! Of course, this is earthquake country and we continue to stock extra food among our camping supplies and gear.

And so, the first anniversary of The Great Black Out of 2011 serves as a reminder how Californians were given another wake up call to disaster preparedness, and how OBceans can and will come together to prevent a crisis, even if it only amounts to just another excuse to throw a party or greet the neighbors.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar john September 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm

“Most seem to recall what an incredibly good time they had after venturing outside that evening, and the fun of hanging out next door with new friends and neighbors, even if it was due to a lack of options. That is, many of us took advantage of the free time to engage the neighbors, forced into the streets without the regular source of video‚Äôs, appliances and household amenities to entertain and occupy our attention.”

This lack of distracting amenities is why there is always surge in births 9 months after such events. Unfortunately the talk of “anniversary” parties is a pipe dream, the lack of options must be real.
The ability of some folks to be prepared almost spoiled the fun, my neighbor, whose husband is even more “tool” oriented than I am, and that says a lot, has two generators and the fuel stored to power them for weeks. She was vacuuming her house that evening.
I have a dozen working flashlights and the rechargeable batteries to power them ready to go, I wasn’t in the dark. Loaned a few out to neighbors. An automotive jump starter kept my android phone refreshed, while I couldn’t tune TV stations I could look at recently posted news clips online. When I noticed the phone was getting hotter than I’d ever seen due to the use I went into my workshop and fabricated an aluminum stand/heat sink in about 20 minutes using a rechargeable drill and dremel grinder.
I knew at that point I was still spoiled though I couldn’t vacuum up the metal shavings since I’d sold my DeWalt rechargeable Shop Vac on Craigslist because of the economy. Sigh.
Nice article though, that was an event to remember.

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avatar Christopher Dotson September 6, 2012 at 10:37 am

John, your comments are precisely the kinds of responses I had hoped for on this, and is not surprising. For a wide variety of reasons, lots of folks are well stocked these days, eh? as it turned out, the “crisis” really had a silver lining. Tx!

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