Wednesday evening a note was posted throughout the park warning that the water would be turned off on Thursday morning from nine until noon, for needed repairs. Not even the park staff knew that that would be the least of the worries.
Thursday morning everyone was up early getting showers over, coffee made and breakfast dishes done while water was still available, when the power suddenly went off. Of course, because we have battery back-up, our lights only flickered. Almost immediately I heard two people talking on the street:
“Did your power just go off?”
“The transformer just blew up!”
Blew up was an exaggeration, but the recently newly installed transformer had indeed malfunctioned. Soon, a congregation was assembling on the street corner, and work crews were pulling up to the big transformer located a half block from us. The rumour mill began. Most people hadn’t yet had their coffee, so there was lots of grumbling. We learned that only half of the park was affected by the power outage. By ten o’clock, when we walked up to the park entrance for a curious look at the new park model homes on display, we found that a large crowd had gathered to take advantage of the free coffee and donuts promised during the Open House. The outage was the topic of conversation. Some were already worried about the food in their fridges and wondering how they’d keep warm if the power wasn’t back on after dark. We were thankful for our generator, something that fifth-wheels don’t have, unless they carry one in the back of their tow vehicle, and certainly no park model has.
As the sun came out to warm things up, people began to go about their daily business, except if they had something planned for indoors. There were no lights and no computer or internet access. Some people made use of the pool and hot tub while they were still warm; others gathered on the patio to chat with friends. Somehow they managed lunch, either at home or out at restaurants.
When the sun went down, the temperature dropped quickly, as is usual here. The grumbling began anew. Work crews were still on the scene. The water was turned back on, but it looked like the power would remain off for a while. The rumour mill said it wouldn’t be back on until Saturday. That night most people were in bed very early because there wasn’t much else to do in the dark and bed was the warmest place to be. Even though we had heat from the propane tank, and could turn on the generator for electricity, we had to conserve, so we too turned in early.
Friday morning we shared our coffee and toast with our new neighbour and friend, Mary Lee, before going to see if The Country Store (a weekly market of local vendors) was in operation. It was, but only with enough vendors to fill the outdoor lounge. It was too dark inside the hall for the others. At the office there was another notice posted: Power would be restored by 2:00 pm, if not earlier, and there would be free hot dogs given out for lunch on the patio. As we were walking over to get the free lunch, a tractor and trailer pulled in, carrying a new transformer and a huge generator.
A large crowd enjoyed lunch with friends while sitting in the sun listening to the resident Dixieland players, who had moved their Friday morning jam session outdoors. The atmosphere was far more positive. Two o’clock came and went; then three and four. The atmosphere changed. Crowds began to form around the work area again. Free pizza delivered in the back of a Cal-Am (the parent company who owns the resort) pickup truck was offered to the spectators. It was a good way to get to know our neighbours, at least. Gradually everyone drifted off to the comfort of their beds when it became apparent that there would be no power again that night. The generator was running, but for some reason it couldn’t be connected to supply power to residences. Again, rumours as to why spread around. Sometime in the early hours it was turned off and the workers went home.
Early Saturday morning our back-up propane tank was empty, so our heat went off. Fortunately there was still enough gas left in our main tank to heat the place up once more. We called to get the backup tank replaced, and were informed that they could come on Monday! We again shared breakfast with neighbours and Mary Lee later loaned us her car so we could go to Home Depot to purchase a small propane tank that would last us for the weekend.
A new posting appeared in various places around buildings and parking lots of Mesa Regal.
The line was long, but moved quickly and we appreciated the pulled pork sandwiches, chips and fruit salad.
In the afternoon we gathered down the street for a block party, where we shared a pot luck meal of fruit, raw veggies, crackers, dips, cookies and cupcakes, and lots of laughs. We met most of the new people who had arrived after Christmas.
Best of all, when we got home at 5:30 the power was back on. I wonder how many went next door to Tower Point (another Cal-Am property) for the free dinner.
Everywhere we went during this ordeal people had opinions, stories and criticisms. I heard of one woman telling someone in the grocery store that it had gotten so cold in the night that two people had been taken to hospital by ambulance because of hypothermia! Fortunately another Mesa Regal resident overheard the conversation and set the record straight, but that’s how rumours get started and spread and become more exaggerated.
Yes, the outage was inconvenient and stressful to many people, and yes perhaps there might have been ways to prevent it, but sometimes shit just happens and there is no way to be prepared for everything. What’s more important is how it is handled. In my opinion Mesa Regal worked hard to fix the situation and to make amends as quickly as possible. These things take time.