Monday, February 02, 2009

the great ice storm of 2009

I've been keeping a daily journal of what it's like to experience a major ice storm. I'll write as much as I can today. I'm using the computer at the public library so my time is limited.

day one

We were up early, had our showers, breakfast, and were drinking coffee. We had freezing rain all night and the cars, fence and trees were glistening with ice. It was actually a beautiful sight. Then, at 8 am, the power went out. We have a gas water heater and cook stove so we could still cook and take showers. I fired up the kerosene heater which would keep the living room warm. I had plenty of kerosene left over from last year so I thought I was fully prepared. That was my first and biggest mistake I made during this ordeal.

Soon, limbs began falling from the trees. It sounded like the first day of hunting season. The branches would snap with the sound of a rifle shot and rumble as they fell to the ground in a shower of ice shards. We could hear trees breaking far away. We have four large trees around our house, two elms, a wild cherry, and a maple. Each one is at least 50ft high. Limbs began falling into the yard.Several large branches shook the house when they fell on the roof. They continued to fall throughout the day and into the night as sleet and snow fell and covered the ice.
The road in front of us was soon blocked by branches. The fire department came and cleared the road in the afternoon only to have more fall. Our two neighbors, twin brothers, came down and cleared the road again after dark.

day two

We stayed comfy all the first day but the temperature in the house fell slowly and steadily and by the morning of the second day the kerosene stove wasn't working properly. I managed to raise the inside temperature to only 58 degrees.

With no power to run the refrigerator or freezer I put some meat in a box and set it on the front porch. It wasn't going above freezing for a couple of day so the great outdoors served as our freezer. For the first few days we ate pretty good. Dorothy cooked up the bacon and eggs, and even baked biscuits in a cast iron dutch oven on the stove top.

By late afternoon it was evident the kerosene stove wasn't going to make it. I called Kelly and had her Google to see if kerosene goes bad over time. She found that it does and that it can ruin the wick. She sent Burk down with the fresh kerosene. It's a 25 mile drive from their house to ours. Hills and curves. The road was closed at the 59-62 junction 7 miles from our house. Burk drove around the barricade and continued on. He waited while I replace the old fuel with the fresh and when I had trouble getting the flame to start he offered to take us home with him. We probably should gone with him where there was a warm fireplace, where they were eating pizza,making sugar cookies, and having a Wii bowling tournament. Instead, we let the burners on the kitchen stove go all night and curled up together under the covers. You've probably heard of a three dog night. We had a three quilts and a comforter night. And we were fully clothed. So much for the romantic winter interlude we had anticipated. I woke up before dawn thinking about what Kelly had told me about the heater wick being damaged by old kerosene, so at first light I began to disassemble the heater. I removed the wick and cut 1/4 inch off the top of the wick then reassembled the stove. Voila! I worked and has been doing fine since then. The temperature in the living room began to climb again.

day 3

We were up early cleaning out the freezers. The temperature was on the rise and our food was not going to last long. We took our meat to Kelly's and Bill's. On the way to Siloam Springs we drove through a foreign landscape. The world was white and the trees seemed to be made of glass. The branches were so distorted it looked like a landscape painted by Salvador Dali. We visited with Kelly and her family for awhile and it was dark when we started home. We drove slowly through a freezing fog disoriented by the dark and the lack of familiar landmarks.

(my session at the computer is about to expire so I'll continue this later. To see more photos go here


lucylocket said...

I hope your house wasn't damaged by the falling limbs. The last few days must seem like weeks.

I have family in Ky. They were hit by the same storm.

wally said...

So far we've had no structural damage. I'll have to get all the debris off the roof to see if we need new shingles.