Update: On the Road Again – This Time to Florida

In case anyone is interested, the power is back on at my winter home in Florida following Hurricane Irma. Even better, the air conditioning is now working! (Hooray!)

The power was out for 6 days in my neighborhood. Cable television and Internet access started working a few hours after the power was restored. We had no water for two days. My neighbors tell me the (wired) telephone service still doesn’t work but cellular phones have worked more or less perfectly during the entire time. (I don’t have a wired telephone so I don’t miss it.) I have been using my cellular phone’s data capabilities to access the Internet and to send and receive email during the time I have been here.

The damage to my house was minor. Everything was repaired within a couple of hours after spending about $20. Some of my neighbors were not so lucky.

One bit of advice: If you depend upon a cellular phone for use when wired phones are out of service, make sure you have a good method of charging the cell phone MULTIPLE TIMES, if needed. You can purchase any number of batteries that will recharge cell phones but my preferred method is to have a power cable that connects the cell phone to the power outlet in your automobile’s dashboard. You can charge a cell phone several times with an automobile battery without depleting the automobile battery.

One caveat: make sure your dashboard power outlet will work even when the engine is switched off. Most automobiles will do that or else they have a powered USB connector someplace designed to plug in a cell phone or an iPod. However, there are a few exceptions. I suggest you verify your automobile’s power availability long BEFORE you have an emergency.

Of course, here is my “secret weapon” for charging cell phones, blowing up tires, starting automobiles  that have a dead battery, blowing up beach balls, and a number of other uses:

Notice the two USB connectors near the bottom left of the device. They will charge cell phones, iPads, iPods, or anything else that is charged by USB. The battery in this thing will charge a cell phone dozens of times plus the “portable power” unit has many other uses as well. I strongly recommend one of these and suggest you keep it charged at all times. You can buy them from a number of manufacturers. I have seen them for sale on Amazon as well as from Wal-Mart, Sears Auto Centers, some hardware stores, and most all auto parts stores.


Glad your house was ok!


The power gadget you show looks good. What exactly is it, please? Thank you.


    —> The power gadget you show looks good. What exactly is it, please?

    There are several names for them. The one I have (shown above) is called “portable power” but I suspect that is a product name. Others call it a “car battery jumper” or a “jump starter” or a “jump starter and tire compressor” or other names. All auto mechanics know about them and many car owners also know about them and buy them

    The device has a rather large and heavy battery in it and a bunch of other, add-on things as well. Its primary purpose is to jump-start an automobile that has a dead battery.

    Most of them also have built-in air compressors and can be used to blow up a flat tire, a basketball, a beach ball, or even balloons.

    Some have built-in lights which is very handy if you have to work on your automobile in the dark on the side of the road.

    Most of the devices built in the past few years also have USB connectors. Plug in the charging cable from your cell phone, music player, or any other device that charges by a USB cable and it will recharge that device. In fact, most of these will recharge a cell phone or MP3 music player many times before the car battery jumper itself needs to be plugged in and recharged.

    Mine also has a power inverter built in that will supply 110 volts AC, just like the wall outlet in your home. It will run a computer or television set or small appliance but is not heavy-duty enough to run a hair dryer or a washing machine. Not all of these battery boxes have built-in inverters, however.

    They tend ot be expensive at $50 to $100, depending upon specifications. However, that’s cheaper than having a mechanic find you on the road or in a parking lot late at night to jump start your automobile or to inflate a flat tire!

    You can buy these in most any auto parts store, at Wal-Mart, or in similar stores that sell automobile service and accessories. I purchased mine at the local Sears Auto Center.


We live in the Orlando area during Irma and our power was out for 7 days. Fortunately, the only loss we had was no power for a week plus some small tree branches in the yard. I have had a portable power device similar to the one Dick showed for years however, mine was much older and had no USB outlets. The lack of USB outlet were not a problem since it had a cigarette lighter outlet and I simply moved my two USB outlet charger from my car to the portable power unit. I had replaced the battery (similar to ones found in PC battery backup devices) in the last 6-months and I charged it a day or two before Irma hit. It kept our two Pixel phones, a table or two and a weather radio charged up until power was restored to the house.


Thanks, that is a great idea. My husband said there are USB ports on ours.


As a Katrina survivor, I can relate. I stayed and we were surrounded by water for several days. I was able to get to my car and plug my phone in while I ran the engine, however, the phone service was so busy that the calls would only go through in the very early morning and late at night when most were sleeping.


Phone service is not as dependable as tthe companies claim. Cell service require electrical power. Wired has a problem after about 4 hours if there is a section of fibe. Internet phones require electrical power
The good ole days of copper does not exist anymore.


Glad to hear your house survived hurricane Irma unscathed. Still a week later, many folks unable to get back to their homes in the Keys.

Sears sells a similar DieHard Platinum Portable Power 1150 for $160.

Thanks for the idea of a portable power box. Something to consider to include in the car for trips and everyday use. The only question is whether it will jump start my car in a Michigan snowbank in February!


    —> The only question is whether it will jump start my car in a Michigan snowbank in February!

    That’s what it is designed to do. However, I’d prefer to not test it under those actual conditions!


So happy to hear that you experienced only minor damage from dear Irma. Up here in the Jacksonville area we are still cleaning up but thankful that our power is finally back on. I also wanted to let you know that we switched to Google’s Project Fi cellular a while back after you mentioned it in your newsletter. In addition to being very pleased with their service overall, we were very grateful to receive a partial rebate from them due to the hurricane impact in our area. What a thoughtful and very welcome gesture!


    —> I also wanted to let you know that we switched to Google’s Project Fi cellular a while back after you mentioned it in your newsletter.

    Thanks for letting me know. I have been using the Google Project Fi cell phone service now for about a year and a half and am very happy with it. Google cut my monthly cell phone bill by about two-thirds and gives better service besides.

    The unexpected rebate was a very thoughtful gesture, rare amongst American corporations these days.


Glad to hear that your damage has been repaired. We have had one of the battery chargers that you mentioned for years. We take it with us when we travel for the just in case we need it for air in our tires since not all gas stations have air available anymore.
We also have a smaller one that we could use. Thank you for keeping us informed about what you went thru. It might not be genealogy related but just like your other emails you have provided us with great information.


Ana M. - Southern California September 20, 2017 at 1:51 pm

With so many experiencing disasters, and my living in California, I just ordered one of these. You hit the nail on the head!! FYI, Sears ships it for free and is far cheaper than Amazon. I did not check out automotive sites though…

Thanks again, Dick!!


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