BARRY COUNTY, Mich. — Thousands of residents in Barry County are heading into day six without power. It’s dark in Jaki Spencer’s Dowling home. However, lots of candles, lanterns, and flashlights have been the solution ever since the power went out Saturday.
She said it gets cold at night after turning off the propane heater and turning down the fireplace, but her family is getting by.
“I guess [the problem], more than anything, is boredom. Just not being able to do some of the things you normally do,” Spencer said.
Life has become a lot simpler these days. Christmas night, she said they played dominoes by candlelight.
“One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from a lot people, particularly, people who have to go to work everyday, [is] the inability to get a shower,” she said.
As for storing her food, Spencer got creative. She placed it on the deck in the frigid temperatures. She calls it a “walk-out cooler.”
It’s one of several survival techniques she has in common with Ron and Mary Hesterly of Hastings Township. They gave me a tour and showed me how they’ve managed to survive without electricity.
They’re using a generator to help light the home and power the television.
“Guess we burned up about 15 gallons of gas so far,” Ron Hesterly said.
A couple of oil lamps are getting good use as well. Like Spencer, the Hesterlys said they’ve also been without power since Saturday night.
“You almost give up,” Mary Hesterly said.
“It’s kind of difficult because it gets really cold at night. So it’s difficult at night. It’s kind of cold to cook on one burner. We have to unplug one thing to plug in something else,” she explained.
“It kind of like reminds you of Green Acres except we don’t have to climb a poll to do the switch-work. But there’s a lot people like us who don’t have it either,” Hesterly said.
The Hesterlys aren’t phased by the fact a state of emergency has been declared for Barry County. They just want their power back ASAP.
Spencer said, “I wonder if they would have declared it earlier… I don’t know if if would have made any difference or not. I don’t know what people are going to need in the way of any financial assistance or stuff like that, but I think maybe declaring an emergency just helps people realize just how severe it is. That people are struggling.”