Harbour (a solarpunk story) part #3 'The storm'.
Hi! Thanks for joining me for the next part of my solarpunk story, Harbour! This and the next part are about the effect of a huge, category 6 typhoon that is bearing down on our archipelago. They also describe some of the structure of the island group and how everyone receives electrical power as well as looking a little at some of the history and the folks who live here.
You can find the last instalment here in the Scholar and Scribe community here.
Image source: (https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1454789476662-53eb23ba5907)
Central started to send messages to all residents, visitors and citizens via personal devices and the public screens. Sometimes, it still strikes visitors as ironic that a decentralised society would have a communications hub called ‘Central’. Truth is that it was named after the builder’s favourite train station.
Central is also a repository of many things; emergency supplies, recent records and also communications equipment. There were several other such buildings around but central was also central to the islands. On its walls are massive screens that provide up to the minute data on weather, tides, energy production and generalities such as the time until the next ship arrives, complete with ariela images broadcast from its drones.
Our weather folks have been receiving messages of a huge storm coming our way. Not that there was such a thing as a small storm anymore. Some of the older residents could remember when a category 5 storm was as big as they got and those were few and far between. In the last decade though, 1 a year became 2 which became 3, skipped 4 and 5 and now we received at least 6. Even though we’re used to them, they still packed a hell of a punch and needed to be taken very seriously.
As soon as the message came in, the dirigibles began to ascend to half their running height, winding in the huge electrical cables that they provided tension to for the generating electricity in the big, underground generators As the dirigibles rose and fell during their duty time or ascended and descended for maintenance, these cables turned the generators and created current. As the duty height of the airships was over a kilometre, this meant a lot of current generated. As late as possible, they will be brought down to tether at the airport. Their data sensing and communications equipment is vital to everyone scrambling to finish their work and get to safety.
The crews left a number of smaller balloons at their regular cruising height. These contained all kinds of monitoring equipment and kept an eye on the approaching stormfront for the watchers below.
These monitoring balloons would be left up for the duration of the storm, providing a massive amount of data before the turbulence rendered them incapable of flight. A crew would go out and recover them and their equipment after things calmed down. Their torn semi-metallic fabric is a favourite amongst repairers of all kinds.
Nothing is wasted on the islands!
Surface craft began returning to dock and out on the Wind turbines, whatever could be was lashed down and secured. The seaweed harvesters bolted back to shore on their little skiffs, carrying with them as much last minute harvest as possible.. It is one of the sad things about their role that their work was often destroyed by storms such as this even while their infrastructure reduced the size of the storm surges that met the shore.
Only the massive tidal generators would remain running, their crews safe many metres below the surface in secure shelters. They often bragged that their workplaces are the most secure places in a storm and everyone who had visited them agreed.
The ocean floor based generators would provide most of the power for the island’s needs and every building had backup power built into them. At over 30 metres depth, the storm would be noticeable but shouldn’t cause any interruption. If it did, it meant that conditions were extremely severe and nothing could be done to make repairs. Not even the craziest of crewmen would venture out of the airlock in those conditions, though they had been known to do equally crazy stuff!
Administration buildings are also built over salt water battery banks to compensate for any fluctuations in the supply. Even so, people still dread a lack of power, especially in the howling darkness of a category 6 typhoon.
There is little chatter on any of the coms lines, the world web balloons are being brought in to land. In the early days, these vital communications balloons were sent to higher altitudes, far above the storm so that communications could be reestablished as quickly as possible without the need to launch them again. In current times, though, with the gargantuan typhoons that we are seeing, there is nowhere above the storm ceiling that is safe unless they were sent into low level orbit but guaranteeing return from there is difficult so they are brought down.
Central displayed the approach of the storm on its public boards and these are echoed across the island on info screens in every public place.
People started home early in the piece, everyone knows how long it takes to lock down dwellings and prepare emergency measures. Everyone who comes to live at Harbour is trained in emergency protocols and there are teams of people who attend to the needs of visitors.
The first of the winds started and those who were still out and about head to shelter. The lead grey belt of clouds filled one side of the horizon and rain started.- heavy rain. At this stage, anyone who was outside moved inside and closed the last doors on their dwellings. We have no need for klaxons and sirens, everyone knows exactly what to do.
In the old days, pubs had been favourite places to wait out the storm. About 3 years ago, one of the pubs near Central collapsed during a category 4, killing everyone inside. Now, it is seen as bad luck to be in a pub during a typhoon and those around the island are locked down shortly after notification. Islanders are a superstitious lot and even the owners wouldn’t be caught inside during weather troubles. There is nothing in the pubs that couldn’t be replaced soon after through allocations and gifting from the citizens and Council rebuilding fund.
It has taken four hours for the storm to arrive and now, we are in the hands of the ocean gods.