“I felt guilty drinking wine outside because at least I could go back inside our cool house,” Mueller said. “It’s just weird. We have power. The restaurant across the street has power, but some of our neighbors don’t.”
Natural disasters have a natural way of doing this. They mysteriously transform some people into the haves and the people next door into have-nots. Friday night’s storm and fast-moving winds left plenty of neighborhoods in Virginia, the District and Maryland perplexed. Why one block but not the other? What offers should those with power make to the powerless?
And most critically: What about connecting a power line from a neighbor’s home so you can run a fan and charge cellphones, laptops and iPads?
As of 10:30 p.m., 167,668 customers of three utility companies in Montgomery County were without power. While Chevy Chase’s affluent residents do not suffer nearly the same deprivations as the region’s homeless or impoverished, their expensive real estate conveys neither protection from violent storms nor quick fixes from Pepco.
So on Saturday morning, after enduring a night with no power, Andrew Morral on Georgia Street called up Mueller.
“I saw the caller ID when my phone rang and immediately knew, ‘Oh, he wants to run a cable,’ ” Mueller recalled with a wry smile.
His request was part and parcel of the Mueller-Morral diplomatic relationship. When she has lost power in the past and he hasn’t, she has run a line to his home.
Saturday afternoon, with sweat beading down his face, Morral said he was grateful for his neighbor’s generosity in a time of need. He attached a long power cable from Mueller’s house, snaked it across his back yard and spooled it into his kitchen. He seemed to have it all: A box fan whirred, electronic devices were fired up and his refrigerator kept food cold.
But still he worried. His home seems to lose power far more frequently than Mueller’s.
He is gloomy in his outlook for his family’s return to normalcy. They’ve talked about going to a hotel.
What about getting a generator?
“Takes up a lot of space,” he said, also noting that a neighbor’s generator can be noisy.
Morral’s neighbors on Georgia Street seemed to mostly be without power. Their houses were dark. But one, a few homes down, appeared to have power. A handwritten note left on a neighbor’s door explained:
“We plugged our refrigerator on to your outside plug. Hope that’s okay. Pepco said hopefully by midnight but we didn’t want to take a chance . . .”