Disaster Equivalence

16 August 2003

Which is worse? 50 million people without power for 12 hours or some portion of 338,000 utility customers who don’t get power fully restored for 15 days? [link provided by Scripting News]

Memphis Light Gas and Water is the local utility in Memphis. According to directors of that utility, 338,000 customers lost power the instant the storm hit.

By day 14 there were still roughly 10,000 customers without power. Memphis was measuring utility customers or electric meters. Using such a metric a family of six would be counted as a single utility customer, though six people were without power. During a work day, a business employing 100 people was counted as a single customer or electric meter.

Memphis got no media coverage. New York and the national media are behaving as if that city dropped into an abyss. All of us are enormously dependent upon electricity. Try to imagine your own life without electricity for 3 or 4 days. What if you couldn’t drive anywhere? How would you keep battery-operated laptops and cellphones and PDA’s running?

How do you sleep when the temperature is 85 degrees and there is 90% humidity?

Welcome back, New York.

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