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Minnesota power outage: A family learns four lessons to get by in a storm

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Richard Sennott, The Star Tribune/AP

(Read caption) Hundreds of thousands of Minnesota residents lost power in outages caused by storms over the weekend. Here, a resident looks over a house that was damaged during a storm on June 21in Minnetonka, Minn.

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Minnesota is experiencing the worst power outage in its history — on June 21, an intense storm savaged the tree canopy throughout the Twin Cities, leaving more than a half million people without power and making an articulate argument in favor of buried power lines

My Minneapolis neighborhood, Longfellow, looks like it was attacked by a cheesed-off Paul Bunyan. My wife Becca and I work from home where we care for our 2-month-old son Josiah, and our power's been gone since 9 p.m. on Friday night. Excel Energy says the power will be back by Wednesday — but trying to restore a power grid is more horseshoes and hand grenades than a precise art.

The experience has been one of the most challenging things our young family has faced, right up there with the whole "giving birth" thing. But the process has been nothing if not educational.

Treasure That "Peak Moment"

As I write these words, Becca is happily snuggled in a comfortable hotel bed with our son. The room is cool and clean, and I'm able to use wireless Internet to work. A bit less than 24 hours earlier, the two of us were cooped up in an increasingly dark, muggy house. Our son was nearing peak volume (just this side of "jet engine" on the decibel scale), and we were both exhausted and frustrated — with each other, with the situation, with the electric company, with life in general. The ice cream sandwiches had melted. The bratwurst had gone bad. We'd arrived at a dire place.

Looking back, that moment was a precious gift. A horrible, unpleasant, madness-inducing precious gift, but a gift nonetheless. I wish I'd done more to listen rather than talk. I can see how heat, stress, and disrupted routine can stack up. But with a bit of teamwork, we survived.

And I can now view it from the other side of the mess with the knowledge that while things can get highly unpleasant, we can pull back together, rally, and recover.  

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