Early this morning, a fire in the switching room of BELCO's main power plant in Hamilton resulted in the loss of electricity to most of Bermuda.
My wife first noticed something was wrong at around 5am. The air-conditioner in our bedroom had stopped. We've been hit by power cuts in the middle of the night before, but the outage has always been localised. Looking out of the window, we saw that the whole of St. George's and St. David's was shrouded in blackness. The only light came from the two cruise ships moored in the harbour. It was then that we realised this was more serious.
At 7am we still had no electricity. It was reminiscent of the aftermath of a hurricane: listening to the Government's emergency radio station for news, wondering how long it would take for power to be restored, wishing that it didn't have to mean the loss of water too (though with the current drought, perhaps that's a good thing). Many stores and offices have closed for the day. On North Shore, huge lines of traffic formed outside the few gas stations that were operational. By lunchtime, power had been restored to some areas (such as my in-laws' house) but not others (our house).
Information about exactly what happened is still sketchy, but people will inevitably ask if more could have been done to prevent such a catastrophic outage. Nonetheless, the blackouts in London and on the US East Coast a couple of years ago should remind us that it's not just Bermuda that's susceptible to these events.