Tuesday, February 10, 2009

And Then There Was Ice

So on January 25, the weatherman said we had some ice coming our way- big deal, right? John was in the middle of a huge tile project in our kitchen (remember the broken tiles smack dab in the middle of the kitchen floor?) and because these tiles were in the main thru-way from the upstairs leading to the downstairs, we had been going through the yard to the back door whenever we needed to go downstairs. That was all fine and good (in a going-to-the-outhouse kind of way) until the sleet began late Monday afternoon and it became unsafe to walk down the front steps and around to the back door. Then we all had to make flying leaps across the kitchen floor- lots of fun- but little did we know that was the least of the problems to come.
On Tuesday morning, we had a bit of ice which still seemed to be no big deal, but the trees, they did not agree. Our subdivision lost power at 11:22 Tuesday morning, and the ice continued. The tree limbs grew so heavy that they began falling, and many trees split right in half. All night long and throughout the next day, we listened to the loud cracks, pops, and crashes of trees falling all around us. The kids watched out the windows, oohing and aahing over the spectacle, and also mourning their favorite climbing branches.
Turns out we were one of the lucky ones: we had heat from two large kerosene heaters, ample food, a gas grill, vans full of gas, a gas hot water heater, and a neighbor willing to share a line from his generator to run our refrigerators and some lights for a few hours each day. Others weren't so lucky. For several days, gas stations had no electricity to pump gas; stores had no electricity to serve customers; banks had no electricity to dispense cash; driveways, streets, and even main roads were blocked by huge limbs, trapping people in their homes and subdivisions; and to complicate matters for everyone, AT&T was completely down, which made communication next to impossible. There was a run on gas and kerosene, causing shortages across the region for several days; John eventually had to drive an hour east for kerosene. People stood in lines for hours to buy food, heating supplies, and generators because stores were allowing only 15-25 customers in at a time. The National Guard was called in, and emergency workers from across the country began arriving.
Literally thousands of utility poles were snapped by the ice, dragging main power transmission lines into roads, ravines, rivers and lakes. Some of the emergency workers that worked Hurricane Katrina said that although home loss was much worse with Katrina due to the flooding, the damage to the power grid here was unlike anything they'd ever seen. A number of people in our region have died from carbon monoxide poisoning or hypothermia. There have been over 125 house fires, and several families have stood by helplessly and watched their houses burn because rescue workers could not reach them in time.

Our family was very fortunate to regain power after only six days; hundreds in our region- and many of our friends- are still without, two weeks later. Our city looks like a hurricane has swept through! Virtually every tree in the city sustained major damage. John and the boys have been out with the chainsaw every day for the past week, and the job is still not done. Every yard has a huge pile of limbs and logs waiting to eventually be picked up, and some streets are still barely passable. What. A. Mess. But even so, we are very thankful: thankful for friends and strangers who have helped in so many different ways, thankful for workers who come from all over to serve our community, thankful that throughout this ordeal, God is in control and his mercies never fail.

This is my favorite tree: November 2007
This is my tree now:
The kids managed to have fun in spite of it all- it's been quite an adventure!


jcallahan said...

Wow! The damage sounds a lot like that of Gustav in Baton Rouge (every tree damaged). The obvious difference was the cold and the longevity of the cold which made repairs impossible. It probably looks like a war zone there now.

Glad you guys did so well is such a bad situation!

E.T.'s Mom said...

Your pictures are fabulous! You describle the whole ordeal very well.

Trailboss said...

I agree w/E.T's Mom...your pictures and your story was right on. That is what it was. It was a bit scary at times but I, like you, have a lot to be thankful for. We never were cold or hungry or scared for that matter. Nervous perhaps but OK.