Letter Re: Lessons From an Unexpected Grid Down Weekend

Hi Jim,
We just had a bout with Mother Nature and lost power which appeared at first to be for some time. I am happy to report that my “list” generated from this un-expected “grid-down” weekend was very very very short. I attribute this success and wonderful feeling to what I have gleaned from your publications, SurvivalBlog, and a few very good friends! We were without power for about 40 hours and really only had two “needs”. I was actually “disappointed” when the power came back on. J Oh, and we did not use the power generation until hour 38 and were still very comfortable. The generation was only used for the following two items.
The following were my bigger decisions that I made, or pondered-
1). Knowing this was likely a short term situation, (i.e. – 2 weeks or less) I decided to maintain the freezers via generation.
2). Given the demands of livestock, we were considering a short-term need of pumped water, (rather than relocate to surface water).
The situation for livestock watering led me down a path I had not thought of. How to keep the stock tanks heated without wasting valuable fuel and without the necessary sunlight for solar solutions, (i.e.- bad storm, no sun). Given our outside temps, we were fortunate, but it could have been sub-zero.
In talking with my Father, he mentioned that a wood fired or corn cob fired submersible tank heater was how they maintained open water back in the day without power. I have searched online and so far have not found anything but a Japanese wood fired spa/ tank heater called a CHOFU. (See www.thesolar.biz for the CHOFU and other items. I have no affiliation with them.) What I would really like to find is a coal fired tank heater that can last longer and be without the fumbling of wood ignition in the raw of a storm. Does anyone have some answers on this matter?
The storm broke off many hundreds of power poles leaving behind downed and dangerous power lines, (which were very hard to see). This brought another valuable lesson. A secondary exit route from our property in the event that the lines above our drive are on the ground, (something I had not thought of).
In the mix of the storm, I helped a friend wire his furnace into his generator, (taking all the appropriate safety measures and considering Lineman safety) in a matter of 15 minutes. This was truly rewarding.
In my discussions with him later, we decided that we were better off having our own private well rather than what we felt was a disadvantage of being on a “community well”. Namely for getting water without power. In the instance we discussed, the well only served about six homes and boasted a 5 HORSEPOWER well pump! I hate to think of the cost of the generator needed to power up that baby, and the likely voltage drop in running extension cords to the location of the well in this instance would not even be feasible.
There are positives to a community well; I am simply outlining the disadvantage as we saw it in our situation.
As a side note, make sure that the alternative power supply to the well pump is sufficient to not “lag” the startup of the motor. I think this is the quick death of electronics. It is easier on the well pump to keep the pump running than to stop and start it, keep that in mind for future reference. I wanted to take this opportunity to say “Thank You” for the SurvivalBlog site. I hope you find reward in another success story and hope others act on their intentions as well, so they may experience the peace I had during this very simple situation. I would feel more embarrassed than I do had I not contributed to the Ten Cent Challenge, pre-storm! I suggest the many others who value your service contribute to the cause. It only takes seconds, and it can save lives. (Does that sound like it is worth $36.50 a year???) Read it, Learn it, Buy it, Use it! – The Wanderer