Last night seemed to be the breaking point for generators. Several people I knew had generators stop working. Many of the larger generators that you purchase at Home Depot or Lowes have a low oil sensor and will shutdown if the oil dips below a certain amount. Make sure you have oil ahead of time so you can add some to get out of the emergency.
As fate would have it, our generator started acting up right before bedtime. I was able to get it working by leaving the choke 1/2 open. Once it was light I ended up doing a full maintenance on it. Most generators have maintenance at 20, 50 and 100 hours. This one has been running about 80 hours since Monday. I'm sure other people are well over the 100 hour mark. After changing the oil, cleaning the spark arrestor, cleaning the spark plug and doing a full carburetor cleaning, it was back in good shape.
Note to anyone who might need to rely on one: Get oil, spark plug, fuel filter (if equipped), and some carburetor cleaner. It may be the difference between having power or not. I didn't consider running on generator past the maintenance cycle. If you do not know how to get to your carburetor, have someone show you. I'm not a mechanic but could easily open a small engine repair shop after this event.