Anyone who occasionally still wonders what life was like before the Internet, television, air conditioning and refrigeration is finding out now after unexpectedly fierce thunderstorms early Saturday morning knocked down an amazing number of trees and power lines in Atlantic and Cumberland counties - and, with them, the instant access to information and ice cream we have all come to expect.

This is certainly not the July Fourth holiday week many of us had planned - but it is as good a time as any to think about our "independence."

How many of us automatically reached for light switches as daylight faded? How many worked for hours cleaning debris from the yard, then realized there would be no hot shower to wash away the grime? And how many of us went for gas forgetting how it gets pumped into our cars, or ran down the battery on our "smart" phone before remembering we couldn't recharge it?

Today, days after the storm, many South Jersey residents are still sitting in stifling hot homes. The refrigerator has been emptied. Peanut butter has lost its appeal. And for some, it still may be days before power is restored.

Maybe you've made the best of a bad situation, dug out a deck of cards and some old board games, or found that book you've been meaning to read (before it gets dark or the Kindle battery dies).

Or maybe you're just angry because it has been three days and your power is still out. It's hot. It's frustrating. We understand.

If you're an emergency worker, you're likely operating on very little sleep. It may not seem like it to people who can't see the trucks from their window, but crews from all over the region are working

16-hour days to get downed trees removed, roads opened and power restored. Hundreds of emergency workers are sleeping in dorms at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, spending their holiday in the heat so you can get your air conditioning back.

Yes, this is a major inconvenience. But we've never had a storm like the so-called derecho that hit from South Jersey to Virginia on Saturday. We got away with a mild winter and now have been blindsided by a type of thunderstorm most of us had never heard of before.

Can more be done to prevent such massive power outages during a storm? Why aren't more power lines buried underground rather than strung from vulnerable poles? Yes, burying the lines is expensive. But so are outages and so is stringing those power lines back up.

Is there more we all can do to prepare for such emergencies?

Those are questions worth discussing. We humans don't like being powerless - in any sense of the word.

Rather than complain, let's learn from this storm and be better prepared for the next.