Re: emergency preparedness
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2018 10:02:07 -0800 (PST)
On Jan 16, 2018, at 12:16 PM, Lynn Nadeau / Maraiah <welcome [at]> 
> We haven't gotten a generator, though the possibility gets raised from time 
> to time. It would need to be propane or gas. Gas goes bad and is hazardous. 
> Equipment needs to be maintained and stored some place.... In a power outage 
> we still have a gas cookstove and a propane heater at the common house.

We had a member’s generator for a 5 day outage in DC a number of years ago. It 
was very helpful to have electricity in the CH where people could gather for 
dinner — we had a lot of food that had to be cooked before it spoiled. (Gas 
stove.) The generator powered lamps in the dining room, the CH refrigerator, 
and a charging station for phones and computers. It was summer so there was no 
AC, which was marginally better than if it had been winter and we had no heat. 
The CH refrigerator was used to store bags of ice that the city was 
distributing. We did ice runs once or twice a day.

The generator was very loud and constant. Not pleasant.

We investigated keeping the generator for the community but it proved to be too 
expensive and too dangerous. A gas generator has to be drained for storage, but 
then has to be filled and tested once a month. There are services that do this. 
I don’t remember the price but it was ridiculous for us. Someone offered to 
have the generator stored on their porch and another offered to fill, check, 
and drain it every month. That was unworkable because we can’t store hazardous 
materials next to the building and how could we guarantee that it was properly 
drained. In the event of a fire, would the insurance company believe it was? 

We also haven’t needed a generator since then — the child who was then 2 and 
helped me watch candles just turned 16. So 14 years of monthly filling and 
draining would have been too much work for a situation in which no one would 
die or business would be lost if we had no electricity.

DC isn’t known for weather emergencies like earthquakes, blizzards, or 
hurricanes. We are on the edge of them and things get unpleasant but even a 
blizzard a few years ago had melted a week or so later. A hurricane didn’t even 
blow the dirt off my balcony that had been spilled when I brought my plants in. 
The worst effect of the blizzard is that DC and the utility companies were 
totally unprepared for even a half inch of snow. When the power lines were down 
they didn’t even know where they were. 

When they shut down the federal government, those things changed. As you may 
not know DC is limited by the federal government who runs our affairs and vetos 
any legislation we pass that they don’t like. That means all budget issues too. 
Money to dig them out has to be budgeted for DC if DC is to do anything about 
it. When the weather closed them down and someone raised the issue that this 
was a security threat to the nation and the entire free world, the budget was 

I’ve lived in Iowa and upstate New York, and in Florida, so I realize weather 
is very different in other locations.

There was a suggestion of figuring out how to hook up the batteries in the 
several Prius’s we have as an electric generator. I don’t know if this is 
realistic or not. It hasn’t been explored at the operational level.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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