As Hurricane Isaac neared the Louisiana coast on Aug. 29, 2012, the winds picked up, the lights flickered, and the power went out in our Gentilly home. For us, and many other New Orleanians, electricity would be out for seven full days.
Isaac was only a Category 1 storm but it did cause quite a bit of flooding south of New Orleans. Isaac also destroyed the wooden fence around our yard. But it was the damage to the power grid that cause so much consternation in our house, in New Orleans, and throughout the region.
August and September in New Orleans are unbearably hot and humid under normal circumstances. Somehow, the weather is even more unbearable after a tropical system passes. The “calm after the storm” is just that … calm … no wind at all. But along with the lack of breeze, the heat and humidity rise in the wake of a storm. So when Isaac passed, we endured six blazing hot, sticky humid days and nights – no fans, no A/C, and no cold water in the refrigerator. We were starting to get a little crazy by day seven of the power outage. I simply couldn’t take it anymore. I grabbed my Home Deport Credit Card, went to the store in New Orleans East, and purchased a generator. Well, I started the 18-month “same as cash” process of buying a generator.
The generator worked immediately … but not the way you might think. Before I even had a chance to unbox the generator — much less add gas and oil — the power was restored to our home. So, I stored unboxed my shiny new generator and stored it in the shed and knew I’d be ready for the next big storm. I was stunned that Home Depot didn’t tell me I was purchasing a “lucky” generator. That’s the only explanation I can give … that generator must be lucky.
The first evidence that the generator was lucky, came on the day I brought in home. I simply brought it home and the power was back. Since then the evidence that the generator is lucky has been pilling up. For eight years, we have not lost power long enough for me to bother starting and running the generator for power. Sure we have had brief power outages from afternoon storms and short power outages during the fury and sideways rain of a tropical system or two. In each case, the power came back on before the rain even ending.
Every year since 2012, my hurricane season prep has included a check of the generator. When a storm is in the Gulf, I roll the generator into position and gather the cords. While it won’t power our A/C, it will provide power for our refrigerator, fans, and our cell phones. After it is in place, I pull the cords and fire up the generator … often it starts on the first pull. Why won’t it? It’s a lucky generator. Each time since 2012 the storm has passed and the generator has returned to the shed.
Earlier this summer when Tropical Storm Cristobal formed in the Gulf, I triumphantly rolled out my generator … I was ready. I fully believed that my lucky generator would start on the first pull of the cord. It did not! In fact, I pulled and pulled until the cord broke. Would our luck end? Would we lose power now that my lucky generator had lost its mojo? Thankfully, Cristobal didn’t last long and didn’t impact New Orleans. But knowing the vital mystical role my generator plays in protecting the New Orleans power grid, I felt pressure to get it fixed before another storm entered the Gulf.
I ordered replacement parts and hoped for an easy fix for my lucky generator. Though it is eight years old, the generator has averaged only 5-10 minutes of run time each year. I knew it could be fixed … I just didn’t know if I could fix it. Well, I replaced the cord, drained the old gas, sprayed the carburetor with carburetor cleaner, and hoped for the best. I pulled the cord a few times and it fired up, but it only ran a few seconds. I spent some time searching Google and developed the theory that the carburetor probably needed a more extensive cleaning effort.
I took the carburetor apart and cleaned each part. After a few minutes of work, I found that one of the main fuel valves was clogged. I cleaned it with carburetor cleaner and a straight pin. As I put the carburetor back together, I knew my lucky generator was back and ready to place a mystical force field over the NOLA power grid yet again. I knew it would start on the first pull. And guess what, it roared to life with just one pull. I formed a victory sign with outstretched arms, gathered my tools, and quietly whispered to myself, “Now that it runs, I won’t be needing this generator during hurricane season, because this is a lucky generator.”
P.S. Everything you have read above is true except for one fact … I don’t really believe that the generator is lucky. I am not superstitious — I used to be mildly superstitious about high school baseball — but I am not superstitious now. I am extremely grateful to God that we haven’t needed to use our generator for a power outage these past eight years.