Ruhenstroth resident struggles to cope with power outage
December 17, 2002
Dee Gaskins and her husband Don Sr. are one of the few families in the Ruhenstroth area of Gardnerville who have a woodstove to keep them warm as they live without power.
“We are coping very badly,” Gaskins said. “Thank God we have a woodstove to keep our house warm so our pipes don’t freeze.”
The Gaskins are one of 300 families who have been without power since Saturday afternoon, when winds that reached 92 mph knocked down power poles and shut down electricity to many parts of the Carson Valley.
Dee Gaskins, 66, said Sierra Pacific Power Co. is doing a poor job of communicating with customers.
“Yesterday (an employee of) Sierra Pacific came out in a Suburban. The people across the street had power so I asked him and he said he didn’t know about our outage,” she said.
“They are not telling us anything.”
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Things took a turn for the positive when Sierra Pacific crews restored electricity late Tuesday afternoon to the Gaskins home and others in the area.
Ruhenstroth residents are also living without water since they get their water from wells that use electricity to power pumps connected to the wells.
“There is no water to flush toilets or do dishes,” Gaskins said. “When you don’t have water you can’t do anything.”
Gaskins, who has a generator that she uses for her refrigerator and microwave, said she is worried about her neighbors.
“Most of the people on the street don’t have woodstoves,” she said. “Their pipes are starting to freeze.”
Mary Jane Harding said she has no power and doesn’t have a fireplace to heat her Ruhenstroth home.
“We’re freezing out here,” she said.
A Ruhenstroth resident for eight years, Harding said she is unhappy with Sierra Pacific’s response to the power outage.
“They seem to be ignoring us,” she said. “They are treating us like trash.”
Harding also had her electricity restored Tuesday afternoon.
Gaskins said she and her husband, 67, are likely the only family on the block with a generator.
Still, life without power is not easy.
“We are older and it’s hard on us,” she said.
Gaskins said in the 12 years she has lived in Ruhenstroth, she has never seen a fiercer storm than Saturday’s.
“The longest my power has ever been off was four hours,” she said.
Karl Walquist, Sierra Pacific spokesman, said Tuesday he expects most customers in Ruhenstroth to have electricity by Tuesday afternoon.
For others in Ruhenstroth it could take longer, he said.
Gaskins is losing patience with the company and its ability to handle disasters.
“What would they do in an earthquake?” she asked.
She finds it disconcerting that the outage seems to be hit or miss in her neighborhood.
“When you look across the street and there are lights and Christmas lights, it is upsetting,” she said.
“How long can you go like this?” Gaskins asked.
— Laura Brunzlick can be e-mailed at email@example.com