The ingenuity of many private companies has helped private citizens cope
with emergencies. Such companies have developed technologies such as
small rechargeable batteries and LED lighting that requires very little
energy. This lighting technology became commercially available many
years after the ice storm of 1998. During power outages, this author has
turned on battery-powered LED lighting inside his residence at night.
After the power was restored, the batteries still had plenty of power.
There is also a solid-state technology with no moving parts called a
thermoelectric converter. It can generate a small amount of electrical
power when placed on top of a hot wood or pellet stove. This electric
power may recharge small batteries to provide power for LED lighting and
A growing number of residents who live in rural areas and experienced
the ice storm of 1998 are taking action to increase their independence.
These people tell of having lived through subsequent power outages that
lasted several days, during which time they had heat and light inside
their rural homes. Most rural homes also use septic tanks when they
flush their low-volume toilets. They also access groundwater on their
property for home consumption, at a safe distance from the septic tank.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the residents of some districts
were without municipal water. A small number of property owners had
installed water pumps on their land to access groundwater as an
alternative to fluoridated municipal drinking water. Homeowners who live
in areas that provide municipal water and sewer connection may see
little need to install an independent water pump on their property, but
during an emergency when the municipal water supply is interrupted, a
private deep-level water pump on private property can often guarantee a
family a short-term source of potable water.
While governments run campaigns to encourage citizens to prepare for
emergencies, governments also send out a mixed message. Government
energy policy actively discourages groups of private citizens from
independently generating and sharing electrical power, requiring them to
register with the state and submit paperwork regarding their power
generation that may be subject to ongoing inspections from state
Such intrusion by the state discourages citizens from undertaking the
initiative to organize with their neighbours for their mutual benefit.
The hardship suffered by citizens across Eastern Canada and the
northeast USA during the ice storm of 1998 involved centrally controlled
and centrally generated electrical power that could not reach the
population. In comparison, multiple decentralized and privately owned
micro and mini power stations that operate free from government control
on private property in rural areas and in neighbourhoods can go a long
way in terms of guaranteeing citizens a secure supply of electrical
power during weather-related emergencies.