So everyone experiences a mishap or an accident once in a while and living in the arctic does not buffer you from these types of things. While Jocelyn was in Stevens Village helping with SBA testing, I had just such an experience.
It was about midnight and I was talking to Jocelyn on Skype and getting ready to head to bed when all of a sudden I hear very loud noises and it almost feels like the house is moving. I go to look out the window only to quickly yell to the computer “Joc if I get disconnected call my cell” There were a few words omitted from that quote. After I was confident we were not going to lose connection I calmed down a little and explained to her what I just saw.
I looked out the window to see a large “loader” going down the road dragging the power line that connects from the pole outside our house to the next pole right on the corner. When I looked out must have been just the moment when the cables were breaking and the pole on the corner was falling because all I saw was the blue light of electricity arcing and sparks flying as the loader drove down the road. As I explained this quickly to Jocelyn I realized that I am probably the only one here that was awake and saw this and I thought I should probably call the police to let them know if they didn’t already.
I am still on Skype with Jocelyn at this point and I pick up my cell and call 911. This was my first experience doing such a thing since being in Alaska and this in itself was an experience. First of all I forgot that 911 here is not what it is in most places. We do not have a local 911 operator and on top of that my cell phone is not a local Fort Yukon number. So I was connected to the AK State troopers dispatch and I forgot about that so when I started telling them about what was happening all they said was “Where are you?” Once I realized what they were asking I said “Fort Yukon Police please” and I was connected to the officer here. Now, You have to understand that I know the cop that was on duty and as I explained this too him the first thing he asked was “are you drunk?” and I guess I would have probably had a similar reaction if I was him. I explained to him where I was and asked him to come down because I was not sure where the power line was in reference to my door to the house.
When the cop got here I saw his car out on the street I went to the front door, opened the inner door then unhooked the outer door and pushed it open. I wanted to make sure the power line was not right in front of me. The door swung open and I could see the power line about 5 feet away and I had just enough room to get out without putting myself closer than my comfort to the power line. I got out the door and Justin (the cop) saw me and asked if I could get to the street. I looked at the power line making a solid barricade and yelled back “NO” and then walked the other way toward the back of my truck.
Just when I got in a place to be able to talk to Justin a little clearer he got another call, apparently related, so he asked if I would be ok for a bit and that he had to run, I said yeah, just call the power guys and let them know. I looked around at the broken pole and the lines on the ground and I decided I wasn’t going to sleep any time soon. The power line was on my roof as well as the cable television wires. The pole was in the road blocking the road and my driveway. I went inside put a light in the window and grabbed my camera and went out and took some pictures.
So to make the rest of the story shorter, it wasn’t till 6 am that the power guys were done and we got power back and I finally went to sleep. It did make for a long night and a VERY long next day when I got called into work early. But just like all of our other experiences in life, it just makes you realize you can never plan for everything because there will always be something that messes with the plans.
Oh and for those that are wondering what happened that caused this craziness here is what we found out… It turns out that 3 of the guys who just recently came into town to work for AMI (the company that handles the tank farm, gravel pit and other related things) decided to get drunk and take a joy ride in the company truck. In the process of doing this, they got the truck stuck (nice going guys). To remedy this, they went and got the “loader” to get the truck out. They brought this down the road that is between us and our next door neighbor, something that is not done normally cause the lines hang too low for this, hence the resulting lines being pulled down. The call that Justin got was apparently about the same guys causing problems in the middle of town (not totally sure what but I’m sure it wasn’t good). The question I have is if you see sparks and arcing electricity, why would you keep going to the point where you pull down the pole too, or were they just THAT drunk that they didn’t notice? I think the quote that best summed up what happened was by one of our school board members and the local airport agent, “We have enough drunks here. We don’t need to import more for the summer.”