It’s been almost a week since I last woke to the soothing, rhythmic hum of our neighbor’s gasoline powered Briggs & Stratton generator. Last weekend, electricity was restored to the final corners of the neighborhood, re-introducing flush toilets, hot showers and Facebook status updates to all the fervent, technology-starved Robinson Crusoe’s.
There was much we learned from Hurricane Irene. We learned that neighbors are always willing to help neighbors. We learned how to light kerosene lanterns without setting ourselves ablaze the way our ancestors did. We learned how to check email on cell phones from the front seat of our cars in the dark. We learned that the stupid traffic light at the intersection of 44 and 102 is unnecessary. We learned what it takes to make people who make over $250k per year to line up at Red Cross trailers to get free lunches and non-potable pond water. We learned that the new DePetrillo’s Pizza & Bakery in Chepachet was closed for serving unsafe food that could make you sick . (Attention Health Department, really, it’s OK.., those pizza strips are supposed to taste that way, and always make your stomach rumble even on good days. You are ruining the denouement.)
And we learned that in the absence of any quality puns for the word “Irene,” the chronically lazy of the world adopted the moldy, nauseating Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ hit Come on Eileen to fill the void. (Acceptable, of course, only if you are willing to sing it karaoke-style with one of those racist, fake-Asian accents.)
In its aftermath, we are now left with piles of dead batteries, several cord of free firewood and a petty political storm of protest that would have made old Thomas Wilson Dorr burrow deeper into his grave. (Outlaw Governor Dorr is buried in Providence’s Swan Point Cemetery in a neighborhood that did not lose power.)
But when it leaked out that National Grid intended to re-connect our northwest corner of the state last, based on the concept that no one actually lives out here, and not on the fact that we simply have more trees, our elected wooden Indians suddenly came to life to wag their termite-infested index fingers in disgust. The whining even caused Governor Chafee to pack his overnight bag and come all the way from Providence out to Harmony Farms to see for himself what a felled and broken apple tree looked like. Like Governor Dorr, Governor Chafee never lost power at his house either.
So now Sen. John Tassoni of Smithfield is chairing a state senate inquiry into the response to Irene. Possessing no political influence is OK when things are calm, but when it is unwittingly revealed during a crisis, it is unacceptable. Someone must be blamed. When the kids are home, campaign donors must maintain Xbox Live service at all times. Memo to Foster, Glocester, Smithfield, et al.– work on that political influence thing before the next big natural disaster.
I waited to write this hoping it to be the last word on Hurricane Irene. No such luck. Sen. Tassoni will extract his pound of flesh, fry it up on
an old propane grill, and sell it to the highest bidder. National Grid and EMA will stand chastised and we will hear it over and over again throughout the next election cycle. And when both the Chepachet River Bridge and Chestnut Hill Bridge construction projects miss their deadlines as we all knew they would, they will have their patsy, the maladroit Irene, to blame.