Power Outage! (Prison in the Dark)

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In times of adversity we should remember 1 Chronicles 16:11: “Seek the Lord and His strength, seek his presence continually.” 

We inmates at the Atlanta Federal prison camp really needed the Lord’s strength from Tuesday, Feb. 11 to Thursday, Feb. 13. A winter storm ripped through Atlanta, leaving the city paralyzed. The prison camp was thrown into confusion as we coped with problems caused by the storm. 

It started Tuesday night, Feb. 11, when the winter storm forecast finally hit Atlanta. Snow, sleet and freezing rain raked the area. The weather people finally got a forecast right.  

Our problems started after 11 p.m. Tuesday night. The power went out. This only lasted for about an hour or so. The prison camp has emergency generators so the power was quickly restored.

Then about 6 a.m., Wednesday morning, I got a big surprise. The computers were not working. Whenever the power goes off in the “front” dorms, the computers are negatively affected. So I could not send any emails. I found out later that evening that the computers were working in the “back” dorms.    

Dorms A through D are connected to the prison camp’s main office. These are the “front” dorms. Dorms E through H sit behind the main complex. These are the “back dorms.” An inmate told me I could go to E dorm to send emails. Well, at least the phones were working.   That was something positive. 

So on Wednesday, Feb. 12, we had power, hot water, yet no internet in the “front” dorms. No big deal — but another problem was developing.

Doctors at the camp have many inmates on insulin for diabetes. I have often commented on the number of inmates taking oral medicines for diabetes and other ailments. They get their insulin shots and oral medications at what’s called the “Pill Line.” The Pill Line is held twice daily — except Wednesday, Feb. 12. Pill Line was not held at all. No doctor, nurse, or pharmacist came to give out the insulin or other medicines needed by the inmates. Some of the inmates became concerned about missing their medications. They feared that not having their medications could lead to more serious medical problems. This was especially true of of those inmates needing insulin shots for their diabetes. 

There was another concern for some of the inmates. The mail was not delivered. In retrospect, this was a very minor concern. I spent my time reading the Bible, some devotional materials, or listening to music. Other inmates watched television — mainly professional and college basketball.   

Thursday, Feb. 13, got off to a good start. The computers in dorms A through D were still out. So I got out in the snow and ice and trekked over to E dorm and sent some emails from one of their computers.The laundry was opened so some inmates took their blankets to be washed. We had our 10 a.m. prisoner count. This is when guards come to each dorm and count the inmates. We were all present or accounted for. 

Then the roof fell in after the morning meal. The power went out starting at about 11:45 a.m. and did not come back on until almost 4 p.m. We had no lights, no hot water, no computer service, and no television. The weird thing is that all the buildings around us had power but the camp was in the dark. There was power at the main prison, the Unicorn business facilities, and warehouse.   

Prison officials attempted to open the “Pill Line” so inmates could get their insulin shots and other oral medications. But it was closed 15 minutes after opening. We heard that an inmate had a medical emergency so the insulin shots would be delayed a little longer. It did reopen after power was restored to the camp. Around 4 p.m., inmates got the medication they needed. This was a very good thing. 

Then a joyous thing happened. The sun broke through the clouds, and the temperature started to rise. The ice and snow at the camp started melting. Everyone’s spirits were lifted. 

Everyone was happy when the power came back on. Some inmates took cold showers while the power was out. They will never do that again! They advised other inmates to wait: The water was too cold.

When the power came on, the television came back on. The inmates took warm showers, and the computers in all dorms were operational.

Everyone was smiling. We had our 4 p.m. inmate count. Again, everyone was accounted for. 

My lowest point was Thursday, Feb. 13, around 3 p.m. The power was out and it looked like it might be late in the evening or night before it was restored. But I just refused to let it drag me down. I put my trust in the Lord. 

There were times throughout this ordeal that inmates could have become angry or frustrated by everything that was happening. But we stayed strong. I thought of Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

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Bernard Addison is serving 46 months for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. He can be emailed at bernardaddison@outlook.com.  Your comments will be forwarded to him, and he will respond. You may also postal-mail a card or letter to:

Bernard Addison
44863-074
FPC-Atlanta: Dorm D
P.O. Box 150160
Atlanta, GA 30315

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