Friday, October 15, 2010

January / February 2009 - Ice Storm

This was our first Ice Storm.  It started sleeting on the evening of Monday January 25th and continued through Tuesday morning.  Luckily the weather guys gave us a day’s warning & I filled up all the water buckets & the bathtub the day beforehand. Barn chores were interesting; the entire place was a skating rink.  Goats, chickens, dog & I all ended up on our behinds several times during the day.  The scanner was full of traffic with calls about fires, electric lines down, accidents & a lady was even trapped in her house after a tree fell on it.  Our electricity went out around 10 am on Tuesday, something we were pretty much expecting.  Thank goodness we had the wood stove for heat and a generator for keeping the freezers going.  Of course, we had just bought another freezer & both were just packed with a hog & half a steer. Another thing that saved us some trouble is that Paul set up a goat area in the back yard using cattle panels.  The goats have been in there for a while & I’m glad of it.  The area they were in before was just electric fenced & a lot of it came down with all the tree limbs.  Several limbs came down on the cattle panel fence, but didn’t damage them enough for the goats to get out.  I’ve heard people describe the sounds of cracking branches like shotguns going off; they were right!  The trees started breaking & it probably lasted for over 24 hours.  It sounded like a war was going on & every time I heard one, I was half expecting something to come crashing down on the house & into the livingroom.
Paul left for work as normal on that Tuesday, but after 12 plus hours of cracking trees & downed limbs, the road to our house was totally blocked.  He had to park the truck about ¾ of a mile up the hill & walk down the road in the dark.  The constant noise of trees cracking had me up almost all night.  We both woke up with first light to see how the animals & structures were doing.  Paul called into work Wednesday.  He & our neighbors spent the entire day cutting a path out to the main road.  Even with four people, two chainsaws & a tractor it was slow going. 

As if no electricity, no running water & no heat wasn't bad enough with a big ‘ol pregnant belly on me, my beautiful feline-friend of fifteen years, Cheese, was preparing to leave this world.  It couldn’t have happened at a worse time.   After two plus days of seeing her slowly fade away, I finally was able to get a vet out here (with 4-wheel drive) around 4 pm on Thursday to ease Cheese’s passing.  It was killing me to see her and knowing that she needed help, but not being able to do anything about it.  I tried to get the car out twice already, and failed both times.  I even got the tractor going & tried scraping the road to get some traction & that didn’t work.   I just needed to get out of here so badly to help Cheese.  So after failing to get the car out of here, Cheese & I just laid down by the wood stove & stroked her.  If it weren’t for Cheese, I don’t think the storm would have bothered me so much.  As sad as I was (and still am re-reading this), I think that Cheese knew that I would be so busy with Rhiannon soon on the way (who was nice enough to “wait” until after the storm to be born) that she knew it was time to move on to her next kitty adventure.
My stored water supply ran out after three days.  I didn’t realize how much water the animals go through.  We were lucky enough to get water from a house up the road that has city water.  If it weren’t for that, we’d have to unhook the generator from the freezers & hook it up to the well pump.  During that time we heated water on the wood stove and used that for washing dishes, clothes & ourselves.  I cooked meals on the camp stove or on the wood stove.  Made good use of our oil lamps. We used paper plates, paper napkins & other disposables to save on water.
About five days after the storm & when the main roads were passable, Mom & I went to town (had to get my mind off Cheese).  Most of the smaller stores were still without power, but the Wal-Mart was open.  We went in there just for “fun”.  It looked as if the entire population of both counties were there.   Probably the only warm place with lights so if people could make it out of their house, they figured they’d just hang out there.  Only a few types of batteries left, no kerosene or propane or lamp oil and all the camping supplies were picked over.  There was plenty of food in the grocery section though.  Guess the produce truck weren’t having problems getting through the major roads.  I feel sorry for the employees there because not only were they crazy-busy, but the customers were getting ticked at them when they had to say they are out of something.  I was very tempted to tell a few people off.  They come into the store because they were unprepared and then expect every store to have all their supplies in stock, just waiting for them.  I shudder when I imagine what would happen in a “real” emergency.  And to think this was only five days after the storm started.   
Mom got her power back after seven days.  I think she spent the entire day vacuuming (just kidding Mom).  On day eight, I broke down & went over to Mom’s house for a long, hot, wonderful shower.  Washing long hair in a sink is no fun.
We were fourteen days without power.  I’m glad we “survived” without much trouble & without too much damage to the house.  So, what did I learn from this experience?
I really, really missed the microwave.
I miss hot showers even more.
I can actually live without the internet.
I need to buy more books.
Baby butt-wipes are indispensible.
Though not eco-friendly, paper towels, plates, cups & disposable utensils were very useful.
Scented candles in the bathroom are very nice, especially when you can’t flush every time.
Do ALL the dishes, laundry & other cleaning before a potential storm.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been without power for two weeks; you will still flip on the light switches.
Instant Cup-O-Soups aren’t really that bad.  Well, they aren’t that good either, but they didn’t kill me.
Need a bigger wash tub & wash board.
Need another / bigger generator.  (accomplished, finally)
Need one of those battery-operated camp shower head thingies.
Winter is coming up pretty fast.  I’d better go over my prep’s list again!

1 comment:

  1. RIP Cheese! I hope you and Cloud are chasing butterfly's and eating ham from the sky together!