From the Editor: Hack the grid? We got this
You may have read about it March 23. You lived it last weekend.
The story in the national media in March said the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned that “Russian government cyber actors” have targeted “critical infrastructure and energy, nuclear and commercial facilities,” as NPR put it.
And: “Russia successfully hacked the U.S. power grid.”
Big deal. For us, that was just the weekend.
Tropical Storm Barry didn’t hack St. Mary, but it hacked us off. All of Morgan City and 17,000 of Cleco’s 19,000 St. Mary Parish customers lost power at some point starting Friday.
This is not to minimize the enormous irritation associated with the two or three days of Barry blackout. Employees lost hours. People with health problems were placed in jeopardy. Businesses lost business, including this newspaper, which couldn’t publish Monday.
And, as always with hurricanes, there was tension. Beginning July 9, the day organizers called off the BBQ Bash and Bikers on the Bayou events that were supposed to be Saturday, we had to watch maps showing Barry inch closer.
Then the parish hunkered down while the wind whistled and the branches fell as people tried to remember their insurance deductibles. Tropical storm winds strike, tease with brief pauses, then begin to knock things around again. It’s insidious.
But we exhibited some resilience, too.
Meche’s Donuts stayed open. Teche Regional Medical Center launched its emergency plan and patients at Patterson Healthcare Center were moved out of harm’s way.
We kept StMaryNow.com and our Facebook page up and running. KQKI kept theirs going to, despite some trouble that kept it off the air during the worst.
Wandering around the Tri-City area Sunday when the rain was still falling, you’d find people already clearing away limbs. A few were fortunate enough not to have lost power at all, and some considered themselves lucky to have lost power for only four or five hours.
Here in hurricane country, we call that “a flicker.”
Police officers, deputies, paramedics and firefighters worked long hours in rotten conditions. So did many of our elected officials.
No one stood taller than the people who worked to bring power back.
You always see it during hurricanes or other disasters that affect the grid. Local folks are joined by technicians from neighboring towns and other states.
They worked in cherry-pickers before the winds died completely. They worked in the rain to repair lines that usually carry enough current to turn your Phillips into a flathead. They worked in the dark.
Yeah, we complained. But we were complaining about the heat, the aggravation, the storm and no internet. We weren’t complaining about the utility people.
And hack that, Vladimir.
Bill Decker is the managing editor of The Daily Review.