Thursday, December 13, 2007

61 hours without electricity

Well, we made it through the great ice storm of '07. We lost power around 7 AM Tuesday morning and didn't get it back until just after 8 PM Thursday night.

On Tuesday moring, we dealt with it OK, as we had been without power for 3 hours about 10 days before. I went out in the freezing rain and delivered 3 bales of hay to a neighbor for his cows. I figured the power would be on in no time after that.

By that afternoon, we had gone over to my folks at Garden Grove. They were without power as well, but had a woodburning fireplace that we could be around and stay warm. Dad had collected some scraps of wood from his wood shop, and it was nice. The kids played with the g-parents while Jackie and I rested in front of the fire. We went home later, around 7 PM, and noticed some houses in the country did have power, but others did not. I guess some lines were hit harder than others.

We all bundled up and slept at our house that night. Ah, a 10 hour rest was great (went to bed at 7:30 PM)! Woke up ready for the next day. No power yet, but we were refreshed.

That morning I went to check on my neighbors. One had left to stay with a sister-in-law, while the other was still at home, but OK. I noticed that the power line to our place was broken in at least two places. Later, we took the kids over to the grandparents again. I helped Dad cut some firewood from some dead, dry limbs of some old oak he was keeping around. They watched the kids again while Jackie took some books to the community center in Humeston that was now serving as a shelter. I went back to town to receive some pallets of feed that were to be delivered around 3 PM.

Upon arriving back to town I found that Broad St, our "Main Street", had power back on, as well as a few houses on the south side along a county highway. My truck driver showed up and I got the feed unloaded. He left, but called a few minutes later, stating that he had gotten his rig stuck near the city park after trying to turn around upon encountering a blocked road.

I went to pull him out with my 4wd truck, but to no avail. He was stuck. So, I went out to the farm to get a tractor. My 4450 was now cold from yesterday's hay delivery, and wouldn't start at all (need new batteries, maybe a starter). So, I got the 4640 going. However, it was still hitched up to the grain cart. I got everything disconnected but the PTO, which was iced. After pounding on it for a while, I said "forget it" and decided to take the tractor AND cart together.

So, I went into town with the 4640 and grain cart, bouncing along, and backed up to the stuck truck. Upon getting out, I found that the PTO shaft had disconnected from the tractor (wa la!). I went to another street, parked the grain cart in the middle of it, then proceeded to pull the semi out. By that time, a small crowd had appeared to watch the scene. Fortunately, we provided results. I took the tractor and cart back to the farm, drove the pickup back to town, found my cousin E (whose house the truck was previously next to), and drank some beer with him and friends. He complained that the truck may have kept him from getting power sooner, but I don't know about that.

By this time it was getting close to dark, so I headed over to the community center and found the rest of the family. They were finishing some hot soup. I made a cold cut sandwich, grabbed some chips, and finished it off with a bowl of chili. We decided that, since our house was too cold, we'd spend the night there.

Jackie went home to get our clothes and personal items. We found some cots at the end of the building, hoping the noise and light wouldn't bother the children. Well, it didn't quite work - Maddy was up and running around, keeping the rest of us up. Not a good deal. She was not used to the environment, obviously.

Just as we were ready to pack up and head back to our frigid house, a friend and church member Cheryl showed up to bring some extra blankets. She invited us to stay at her family's house (they had power turned on in the middle of the afternoon). What a relief and a blessing! Soon the kids were tucked into warm beds, and Jackie and I were off to dream land.

The next day (Thursday) brought us a warm breakfast from Cheryl, and Jackie and I off to separate tasks. She spent the morning getting laundry done in Indianola 45 miles away, while I worked in my office, getting it ready for this evening's Hometown Holiday Festival. I went back to the farm periodically to see if the power had come on, but it had not.

So, we kicked off the festivities this evening. A crew had been in town today, putting up our new street lights (only a few months behind schedule), but they didn't wire them in. So, for light, our fire crew brought out the new fire truck and turned on it's spot lights. That provided a lot of light. The community center, no longer a shelter, was home to a supper provided by the swimming pool committee. Santa was there for the kids, and drawings for prizes from various businesses, including mine.

Afterwards, I came home to find the lights in the house were ON. Jackie mentioned the power had been restored about 10 minutes before I walked in!

So, what did I learn from this experience? Sometimes slowing down is good; it allows us to reflect on what's going on, and maybe understand the direction we're headed in better. The power outage shows us Who is really in charge, and that we cannot do anything about it until He says so. The storm also brought out the best in people. We had offers for heat or housing tonight if we needed it.

The fact that the TV, computer, and lights didn't work wasn't so much of a problem as not having heat, hot water, or a way to keep food fresh. The problem becomes when our modern conveniences become, without electricity, inconvenient.

Thanks again for all those who helped out during the storm. First, thanks to the electric company crews for working around the clock to get things back up and running. Thanks to the local First Responders and Fire Dept for setting up shelter and serving food (one fire department worker stayed up all night, monitoring the generator the first night the power went out). Thanks to those who opened their homes to others to provide a warm bed for a night. Thanks to those who went above and beyond their duties to ensure their neighbors were safe.

I'm going to bed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My power only went off twice during the storm though other parts of the county were out for a pretty long period of time. Mine went out in the middle of the night. I figured that would be the end of the power for a while but it came back on in an hour or two. Another time Wednesday morning as it began to melt and thaw a little bit it went off for 30 seconds or so.

The electric co-op has began began to bury a lot of their customer drops. When I put in electric at the new house they asked if I wanted it buried or on poles. They said they preferred to bury it since in the long run there is less of a problem with trees, ice, lightning, wind damage and simple maintenance. I of course jumped at the chance to get rid of ugly hanging wires. It appears that their policy may be paying off for me anyway.

11:35 PM, December 15, 2007  

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