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.
The kids managed to have fun in spite of it all- it's been quite an adventure!