It all started at 6:40 a.m. I’d just gotten up and was brushing my teeth when I heard the fan shut off. I thought Steve had turned it off, but it was really us losing power. Oh well, we thought, a squirrel probably fried in the transmitter and we’ll be back up and running in no time. Inconvenient, yes, but nothing major. Steve showered and went to work and I went to the gym. Around 8:30 I called the house to see if the answering machine was on indicating the return of power. It didn’t pick up so my initial thought was to make a Starbuck’s run for coffe. Then, call it instinct or fate, I thought I’d stop by the house on the chance the power had returned and the machine hadn’t reset. Nope, the garage door wasn’t working so I pulled into the driveway to go inside. Then I remembered a garage sale around the corner and thought I’d check it out before returning home. That’s when I saw the mess in my backyard.
Wow! What happened here, I thought. I got out of the car and was greeted by a crew from City Utilities (CU) and several tree guys. They explained that they’d been trying to contact us regarding the situation. Apparently, a huge branch on our tree was rotten and fell hitting our utility pole and knocking into the CU pole. Ok, so what’s the deal? Just fix the pole and we’re good to go, right? Uh, not really. As my new friend Keith explained, the utility pole to our house was ours, not CU’s and they couldn’t do anything about it because it was private property. Huh? Who in the world has their own private pole? Insert pole dancing jokes here. Our guess was that Harry (original builder, architect, owner of our house) didn’t want anything to mar the lines of the house so he had a utility pole installed away from the house, buried the lines and put the meter/breaker box on the outside. Great idea, except that time had rotted the pole and the once-buried cable was now exposed due to soil erosion. Keith explained that we needed an electrician to come out and either set up a new pole or put a new box on our house before CU would hook up our electricity. Oh, and it was supposed to reach 100 degrees that day. Oh, and the exposed cable wouldn’t pass code so it would need to be re-buried or removed. The list of problems was growing.
I told Keith I didn’t know any electricians so he and his supervisor, Kim, took action and started giving me names and numbers. Naturally, they couldn’t recommend an electrician but they could tell me about ones they knew. The first number rang and rang, the second company only did commercial work and the third was out of business. That’s when Keith stated that maybe my home owner’s insurance might help. I called my agent David Potter with American Family Insurance (the best insurance agency and agent EVER) and explained the situation. He gave me the name of a company, Sechler Electric, to call. I called and explained to them that I had an electrical emergency, that David Potter’s office had recommended them and that I needed someone right away. Keith talked to Wally (at Sechler) and told him the details. Wally said he’d get a crew here as soon as possible.
In the meantime, CU restored power to the neighbors and told me that they couldn’t take care of me until the electricians had done their work. We’d already decided that the new breaker box would probably need to be attached to the side of the house and a cable would run from the house to the CU pole. My yard was a mess and the tree guys told me they couldn’t clean any of it up because they were contracted through CU and the debris was our responsibility. By now I’d called Steve and told him that he needed to come home and help me deal with this. He got the rest of the day off and headed home from Branson. By 10 a.m. Steve was here and the electricians had just arrived, fortunately before the CU guys left. Everyone was able to pow-wow about the situation and devise a plan for fixing it. The CU guys left, the electricians went to get some equipment and I was left talking to the tree guys. Dave, the head tree dude, was a trip. A little firecracker of a man, this guy knew trees and informed me that my huge hackberry tree had more problems than just missing one limb. The area where the limb had fallen had another limb on it that Dave said might go next. He also pointed out an area where the tree had previously split and repaired itself. He suggested we call an arborist to assess it and either have it removed or reinforced with cables. The bad news just kept coming. I asked him if he told his kids there was no Santa Claus. He said he was just wanting me to know the depth of the situation and I thanked him for his honesty, but frankly didn’t need any more bad news.
Fortunately, the electricians decided the box could be mounted on the side of the house and the cable run through the tree so no more limbs would need to be removed. Yes, the box is unsightly, but every house here has one so it just goes with the territory. Plus, this was cheaper than a new pole and would mean no more incidents exactly like this one in the future. Apologies to Harry for messing up his design, but we need electricity! I called David back and he assured me that this was all covered by our home owner’s insurance and that the main goal was to get electricity back. I called Burl to see if we could borrow his generator for our refrigerator since we didn’t know how long we’d be without power. Naturally, he and mom arrived just as power was being restored.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. The city code inspector had to come by and inspect the electrical work before we went any further. Thankfully, the Sechler guys were professionals and they took care of the situation. The inspector gave us a temporary ok to get things going and the electricians will return on Monday to finish the work. We now have a yard full of limbs, debris, a rotted utility pole, old metal pipe and an open trench. We look like victims of a natural disaster, which I guess in a way we are. Once the trench is filled on Monday and all is done then we begin the work of clean up and hauling off the branches. We will have some nice sized logs for future firewood, but that’s about it. Anyone have a chainsaw we can borrow? I leave you with this lovely photograph of Steve and the electrician (and his butt crack) dealing with the tree and pole.