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April 2007
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Starchaser [userpic]
Freezing rain

The freezing rain started last Friday. People began losing their electricity that night. Most of my small town lost it then.

We didn’t. We live in the country and strangely enough we had electricity all the way until Sunday afternoon. My aunt and uncle live in my small town. My parents also live in the country. They lost theirs Friday night. Mom and Dad still do not have any electricity and this is day eight. They are not alone. My aunt told me that she heard on her police scanner that one of the main power stations in town just blew up. Transformers and other things shot sparks and fire high into the night sky and my small town was without power. It didn’t stop there. The freezing rain continued all night Friday night and all day Saturday and all day Sunday. Saturday we all listed to the gunshot sounds of tree branches heavy with ice breaking and falling. Trees broke apart or just fell over. These falling branches and trees took out more power lines. Electircal wires also became heavy with ice and pulled down the poles holding them up. At times the poles just snaped and the lines and transformers hit the ground.

My small town is surround by another eight smaller towns and one very tiny village. All of those places lost power to at least eighty percent of their residents. A couple of the towns in the eastern part of the county lost all power to everything. My small town struggled to keep electricity to the hospital and other emergency stations. They weren’t always successful. The large town north of us was badly hit but not as badly. According to the paper they only lost about seventy percent power. Believer it or not the roads were fairly clear the by Monday and are as clear as they can be now. Cear of ice that is. They are not clear of trees or limbs or wires or transformers. I am not kidding.

We were without electricity from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday afternoon. We were lucky. Many people still don’t have any at all. It is cold. Monday and Tuesday the lows were in the single digits and the highs in the twenties. Emergency shelters were set up in places that had electricity. Families and friends doubled up. People gathered in homes that had wood stoves or other sources of heat.

My husband and I heated our house with the burners on the stove during the day. At night we didn’t have any heat at all. We had trick though. My nephew came up with the idea of using an inverter. An inverter is a fun little device that turns energy from a car battery into electricity for house hold appliances. It can run a light, but not a heater, even a small one. It can, however, run an electric blanket. That is how we stayed warm at night. We were asked to come and spend the night with two families but we have this dog. We have joined the crazy people who won’t go where it is warm because we don’t want to saddle others with our poor dog. My pastor’s wife told us that we could have brought Belle with us to their home. We could have. They are dog people too.

I went to work during the day since they had heat there. I washed my hair in the bathroom there. They were all understanding since out of the four of us only one had electricity.

A fun fact that most may not know is that when one lives in the country as I do, the water comes from a well. The well has a pump deep inside of it that needs electricity. No electricity means no water for us. I knew enough to fill up buckets and pitchers of water. I also emptied one of my huge plastic storage bins and filled it with water. It is not fun making like wild bears in the woods when the ground is iced over and the temps are very very low. You must have water to flush that toilet and water to drink.

This weather like any other disaster brought out the best in some people and the worse in others. Many were out checking on their neighbors. Many who had wood heat were calling friends and family who did not so they could all camp out at one location. People were making sure the elderly had their needs met.

The linemen and tree removal companies have been working non stop since the storm began. Most have been glad to see them. There are crews from other states in the area. I have read the crews from Mississippi and Kentucky and Georgia are here. I have seen trucks from Iowa on the streets near here.

However both of the electric companies in this area have had to have police protection at their main offices more than once during this. Seems that some hotheaded ding bats thought that going there and threatening to beat up the poor lady answering the phone would get his power back on more quickly.

One of the people who goes to my church witnessed an outright slap fight between two women over bottled water in Wal Mart Saturday. Misty said that the one woman took a case of bottled water out of the cart of another woman. They went at it over that water. The funny thing is that there was still plenty of bottled water on the shelves. Another person said that she also saw to women fight it out over a dryer in a Laundromat. People can be nuts.

There isn’t a hotel room available at all in a sixty mile radius of us at this time. I know. I called them all.

Last Saturday afternoon you couldn’t buy a battery, a flashlight, a generator, ice melt, or a kerosene heater anywhere. My dad just happened to be going to Home Depot for something else on day this week when they were unloading a new truck load of generators. He paid eight hundred dollars for one and carted it home. It runs a heater for the well house and for under the house to keep the pipes from freezing and a small heater for each of the bed rooms in the house. They are thrilled. Dad said that there were people who were buying two or three of those generators at a time. They need gasoline to run them so the gas stations with electricity in the area all have long lines all of the time.

I read an article about the farmers in the area trying to care for their animals in this weather. A dairy farmer had generators to run his milking machines and the water for the barn. He said that it was costing him a hundred dollars a day just to keep the gas in them so they will run. You cannot CANNOT miss a milking with dairy cattle. It cause huge problems for a very long time.

We in the office which has electricity still laugh at some of the things we hear on the radio. The DJ did announce that the authorities were asking that people would not go out and talk to the linemen as they were working since they would get to everyone’s home as soon as they could. One local show had people calling in just to share their experiences. One old boy called in and in a dead pan voice said, “Yeah, we saw a flash of light, heard a big boom. We looked out to see the transformer shooting sparks. There was another big boom and we lost our power and the tree’s on fire.”

The people in my church and my family have all been calling one another and checking on each other. Driving home from work the other day, I had four calls from out of town family.

The paper routes have been just all kinds of fun again. My husband has been the ditch only twice this time. Diane and Jerry only once. It’s great. Diane and Jerry have done paper routes for seven years. I asked her what they did when the weather got this bad. She said she didn’t know. It hadn’t been this bad in the last several years.

The governor has visited the state this week. The schools have all been out all week. One can’t have school when one doesn’t have electricity.

I just talked to my aunt. She has power and so do my parents. Woo HOOOO. They are doing what I have done and will do when I get home from work. We are filling up the water buckets and getting ready for the storm that is coming in today. We are too have four to six inches of snow today and freezing rain or sleet Sunday. Yes. Yes. We are just thrilled.

Its always something. . . .

Thank God for what we do have. I never knew that the sound of the heater kicking on was such a lovely sound. Down right musical.