Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Roughing It - Our Ice Storm 2009 survival story!

We survived!

Yes, after 126 HOURS WITHOUT electricity, our lights came on and 7:10 this evening.

The heavens have parted, and the Angels sang!

Larry and I screamed, and laughed and jumped up and down. Happy does not even begin to describe the emotions we are feeling. Somewhere in the middle of our journey, I began writing notes so I wouldn't forget anything. So here is our story.

NW Arkansas was hit with "the worst ice storm in history" on Monday, January 26, 2009. Schools dismissed early and were closed all last week. Many businesses were forced to close because phone lines and cell towers were down and credit card machines were not working. The ice was just beautiful to look at - especially when the sun came out on Thursday. The trees just glistened. I posted just a little about it on Tuesday, and talked about how fortunate we had been not to lose power.

I spoke too soon.

Thursday was the first day temperatures were above freezing last week. The ice began to melt and the limbs began to fall. That's when the power lines, and even many of the poles began to snap from the weight of the melting ice/water. Our electricity went out at 12:47 PM on Thursday, January 29th.

We thought we were prepared. We live in the country and have experienced our share of power outages. This wasn't our first rodeo! We had purchased a generator back in 1999 preparing for the whole Y2K thing. We are on a well for our water source, so when the electricity goes out, so does our water because the pump is ran electrically. All those little things you do every day have to be planned for. We filled both of our bathtubs with water on Tuesday, along with any empty jug we had. On Wednesday we discovered one of our tubs had a slow leak and all of the water had drained out. Since the power was still on, even if the lights had flickered a few times, we didn't think we needed to worry about it. The other tub is a Jacuzzi, and holds a lot of water.

I had been having trouble with the internet all week. I normally check e-mail and blogs twice a day - morning and evening. I was annoyed that I couldn't just log on anytime like usual. Once the power was completely out, I discovered I'm addicted to my computer. No power = No e-mail, no blogs, no Pathwords - NO FUN!

Mom and Daddy came over Thursday afternoon shortly after the power went out. Momma has been fighting a bad cold, and we have a fireplace so we could keep them warm. I had just heated a pot of homemade soup, so we all had something warm in our bellies and the house was warm. We were together and we could ride this out! As it began to get dark I found candles to light and the reality that the electricity wasn't coming back on tonight began to set in. I got the spare bedroom ready for them, we found flashlights and their medicine and we all called it a night. Man was it cold! All of our bedrooms are at the other end of the house from the fireplace, and since the blower wasn't forcing the heat back there, it was chilly. Once we were in bed it wasn't too bad and we all slept okay.

Friday morning Mom, Dad and Larry all went to town to check on our business, and get our employees out working were they needed to be. Mom and Dad decided to get a hotel room. Mom needed to stay warm and rest, and she didn't want to give us her cold. We are learning that a generator is a LOT of work. It is gas powered, and will only run about five hours on a tank of gas. We have these ugly orange extension cords running through the house so that we can keep the refrigerator and television running. The generator is on the front porch, so we ran the cords under the overhead garage door, through the garage and in to the house through the garage entry door, through the "Fish Bathroom". Those doors won't shut all the way because of the cords, and this is completely freaking me out. I hate mice - mice come in when doors are left open. At least we still have TV to entertain us.

Saturday - the adventure is getting old. I want a hot shower and this isn't fun anymore. I have an order for my home based business that needs to be submitted. I'm crabby! And Cold! Larry had to start his day by going out in the cold to fill the tank and start the generator. He is tired of hauling wood. He had to find some five gallon buckets and go to town and fill them with water. That bathtub full of water is dwindling fast at three gallons per flush. It's gross, but we have started rationing how many times we "need" to flush. Just keepin' it real ya'll.

Just after lunch we went to the hotel to take a shower. Boy! Did that feel good! We felt human again. Once we were cleaned up, we went out to eat with Mom and Dad. Hot food=happy tummies! I was telling Momma about needing a computer to submit my order, and she said the hotel had two in the lobby. Yay! We went back to their hotel, I logged on and sent it in. Whew!

The last thing on our "to do" list was renewing the tags for the pickup. You used to be able to go to the automotive department at Wal Mart to do this. Notice I said "used to". My fellow Arkansans - the state decided to pull all those machines from the stores. I guess that was working too well. Move that to Monday's to do list. So we headed on home, hoping beyond hope that the lights would be back on.

Nope, no lights.

Sunday. Today is the Super Bowl. I bought all kinds of great snacks for the game - to cook in the OVEN. We ordered pizza instead, and I'm sitting here writing my thoughts ON PAPER and watching the Super Bowl on our TV run by a big fat ugly orange cord. I'm wrapped up in a quilt, wearing my flannel PJ's and fluffy pink robe having a little pity party for myself. I know I should be thankful - we have so much more than many. But I'm TIRED. Tired of have to buy fast food when we have two freezers full of things we could be eating. I'm tired of listening to that generator roaring and I'm tired of being cold. Right now I'm really wishing that I would have packed our bags and gone to a hotel and filed an insurance claim on the food in the freezers. They are telling on the news about the power companies in the area, and the progress they are making with their customers.

I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on a job well done! Your crews worked night and day to meet your promise that all power would be restored to your customers by Midnight Saturday. Would you please consider training the Carroll Electric crews? They could really benefit from your example.
Sincerely, A disgruntled Carroll Electric Customer

Monday dawns, and still no electricity. So Larry goes out in to the cold again to fill the generator with gas, crank it up, run the cords in to plug in the coffee maker and TV. Load wood in the woodbox and the buckets in the truck. He'll come back home later to see if everything is running okay.
Meanwhile, at the hotel. Mom and Dad get a bill for TWICE the amount that they were told the room would cost. After Mom has a long chat with the people at the front desk at the Hampton Inn, she is informed that she won't be able to find a room throught the week anywhere in the area because the Wal Mart vendors fill all the rooms up. So instead of the original $52.00 per night, the room they have called home since Friday is now $129.00 per night. But they would "let them" have it for $99.00 since there was the "misunderstanding". Thank You so VERY much! Home is now the Travelodge just up the street. Not nearly as pretty, but warm and the shower works.

At 4:47 this afternoon we passed the 100th hour without electricity. We celebrated by going to the motel to take a shower and getting something to eat. It was dark when we headed home. Once again we were hoping beyond hope that we would see a yard light on to signal that we had power.

We did not.

Larry poured more gas in the beast and cranked it up again. I lit candles and plugged in the TV. Tonight is The Bachelor! He sent my favorite home tonight. Throw more wood on the fire and blow out the candles, it's bedtime. At least we're clean. And Warm.

It's Tuesday.
No phone. No Computer. No book to read. No puzzles to put together. No shower. No toilets. I can't even clean even though this house desperately needs it. Larry is sick - coughing and sore throat. He has a Doctor appointment this afternoon. We are both so tired. Try to imagine your lawn mower sitting right below your window, running for 18+ hours a day. Welcome to our nightmare. It's colder again today. By noon it was only about 30 degrees. I can't get warm. It is only about 67 degrees in the family room, even colder in the back of the house. I dug in the linen closet and got some flannel sheets out and found some push pins and made a curtain over the doorway to the family room. In thirty minutes the temperature went up to 73 degrees. An hour later it was 80. Hallelujah!
Mom and Daddy are on the move again. Found a nicer hotel offering a special rate for anyone without electricity - guarenteed not to change the rate. Much nicer room, off of the highway far enough that they can get some rest tonight. Hopefully they won't have to stay much longer. The Doctor gave Larry a bag full of medicine and told him to stay in out of the cold. GREAT PLAN! Would LOVE to! Tonight is American Idol and homeland Security USA. Thank you Lord for our TV!

So we had just settled in for a good night of TV when the power came on! Hallelujah!! After calling Mom and Dad, and my BFF Lisa we ran around here blowing out candles, flushing toilets, rolling up cords and slamming doors closed. I turned up the heat, threw another log on the fire and ran to get the laptop! I just HAD to blog about this experience!

And just for the record, I never EVER want to go 126 hours and 23 minutes without electricity again! Here are a few pictures of our "ordeal"

Cords coming in through the garage.

Coffee anyone? Just let me unplug the refrigerator...

This cluster ran the TV and two lamps.

I took this through the screen on our porch. Those huge chunks of ice were on the roof of our porch. No wonder the poles were bowed like they were about to give - they were! God was looking out for us!

Another use for a mattress pad. Fits over the opening of a standard doorway perfectly! We are going to work on those drafts...
Here's my curtain made of flannel sheets. It doesn't have to be pretty, it kept me warm!


scrap fairy said...

WOW!!!! I have been wondering when you would be back to the real world! What an amazing story. You're a trooper! I would've been just as miserable as you. And what a good little blogger~taking notes the whole time!
Welcome back! :)

Shannon said...

What an ordeal!!! I am SOOO happy you have power now! You handled that with a much better attitude then I ever could! :)