Ice Storms and Promises

Well I intended this post to be about ….

the herd of deer crossing our yard several days ago and the pack (clutch, herd?) of bunnies who were hopping about last night but the ice storm we may be getting is pre empting it.

In December of 2002 North Carolina was hit by a major ice storm. I was working for Sears at the time and left early so as to miss any bad weather coming through and to pick up snow supplies. I remember talking with Paul about it and remember too his dismissal of anything accumulating or for the need of anything more than basics (you know-bread, milk, water, food for the animals, etc). Water because this park runs off a well and when the electricity goes so does the water. We have to buy water anyway cause the water is bad so I have to buy extra during snow storms and stuff.

It’s 2am in the morning on Thursday and the electricity goes out. We get up and outside it’s a whole new world of ice, darkness and occasional flashes of light. We hurriedly got our clothes on and I called Wal-Mart to see if they’re open so we can run down there and get a kerosene heater and other things. They were and wonder of wonders they have kerosene heaters.

We woke our daughters and let them know where we were going and set out on our adventure. We live in a rural area. It’s really not unusual for cows to be mooing in the distance, to see horses frolicking in their pastures, and to smell the stink of chicken houses in the wind. Living in a rural area means there is a zillion ways to get in and out of where we live-thank God. So the first road we picked was blocked due to an accident. All kinds of emergency vehicles and such. The second was blocked due to downed trees. So was the third. We kept seeing the flashes of lights and heard a loud popping and realized it was transformers blowing everywhere. It was constant at first but after awhile we were left in a silent ocean of darkness doing our best to avoid falling trees. Cause they were falling left and right. Finally we were forced to go back past where we live. We were trying to go to Asheboro but decided to go through Randleman to get there since the routes we normally took to Asheboro were blocked. Well, we went maybe a few yards past our driveway and of course a tree was across the road.

By this time I was getting worried and saying prayers. Paul got out of the car and went over to the tree to see if he could move it. He couldn’t and got back into the car. Later I would find out there was an electrical line tangled with that tree. All I can say is God was with him. I thought we would be going back home but my determined husband puts the car in drive, not reverse, and drives through and over the tree.  There were more downed trees along the way but we went down a maze of secondary streets eventually leading, miraculously, to the main road. I couldn’t tell you to this day what roads we went down.

So by now hours have passed since we left home. We are low on gas and we’re exhausted but we get to Wal Mart only to find it closed, a victim of the blown out transformers. We drove down the road to Lowes Hardware where we find other people sitting there waiting for it to open. It’s about 6 am. There is a note on the door saying they will open at 7 am. Needing gas we go down the road and yay! there’s a gas station open. We get gas and confirm they’ll be open so we can get kerosene once we get a can.

Back down to Lowes. As it gets closer to 7am more people arrive and start getting out to stand in line. So we do and bless the store manager’s heart he arrives exactly at 7am and opens the doors. They have a kerosene heater, they have a can, they have everything we need. I asked Paul about a generator but no he wants to wait and come back. I really should have known better.

After paying for our purchases we drive back down to the gas station we just came from. It’s closed. Not only is it closed but driving through Asheboro it’s clear there is not one gas station open. Deciding to try our luck in Randleman we drive through and it’s the same. Everything is closed. Making the decision to go home first, to check on Holly and Tracey, we decide to go to Greensboro and try there.

It’s after 8am now and people are out with their saws cutting up trees so we are able to get through fairly easily.  We’re on Worthville Rd about 3/4 of the way down it when we run into an obstacle. A huge obstacle and our car isn’t going over that behemoth tree so we turn around and disaster strikes. A tire goes flat. We don’t have a spare. Time to walk. Not too far from the behemoth tree I wasn’t too sure I could climb over, this huge monster truck comes rolling over it like it’s not even there. Wow is not even close to how cool it was. Wonder of wonders they stopped and offered a ride.  A man and woman was inside. Her name was Doris but I can’t remember his. I guess because I talked to her off and on for several months later. They were very nice and told us they would take us home but they wanted to go to Randleman first. We did tell them everything was closed but they wanted to see for themselves and so back to Randleman we went. On the way we found out they were in the middle of a divorce (he was cheating on her). I was surprised how casual they were about it and it was good he was still looking after her. Once they saw there really wasn’t anything to see we started back. 

We told them about our morning and the man told Paul he could use gasoline in the kerosene heater instead of um, kerosene. I told Paul, don’t do it. Rolling over the behemoth tree (fun!) we did not meet any more obstacles till we got home. The tree over the road was gone, cut up along side the road, but the electical line was still laying there. Another eletrical line had fallen half way down and was blocking the driveway into the park.  Paul crawled under it to get the spare while I waited in the truck with Doris and her soon to be ex. Paul came back and told me the girls were fine and we were back to our car fairly quick. I have to say the best part of this story is riding around in that monster truck. Truly it gave me a whole new appreciation of those monster truck shows and squishing stuff under them.

Anyway. On to Greensboro. I stopped by work to advise them I wasn’t coming in (Paul was already off) and we found plenty of gas stations open. While there was power outages it wasn’t near as bad for Greensboro as it was for us in Randolph County. It’s after 12pm so we stop by Stamey’s BBQ and pick up some sandwiches and head home.

Because of the behemoth tree we do take another route home and manage to slide the car under the electric wire. It was hanging down far enough to keep a big truck or car out but not our trusty little car.

We find the girls snuggled together with the dogs and some cats. The other animals aren’t being affected yet but we get the keresone heater going and start moving cages around it. Yes, he uses gas and of course by nightfall the heater is barely working and smoking. Paul does get the tiny fireplace we have working and the girls make themselves pallets in front of it for heat. Between the two it stays warm enough but I was still worried about the more exotic animals and of course the fish tank. I went to bed that night not sure if any of us would wake up the next morning or not. But we did, and I went on to work on Friday cause at the time I was doing payroll for over 600 people. Payroll is kind of like the mail. People don’t care if it’s rain, sleet, snow, hurricane, flood or whatever-they still want their mail and nothing better stop them from getting paid.

I left early and went home to a stressed Paul. He’d been everywhere to get a generator and kerosene heater. The ones from Lowes and Wal Mart had sold out in hours on Thursday and he’d gone as far as Virginia to find another kerosene heater and or generator. The girls were with my mom who had her generator and kerosene heater. We could have gone to a motel but it would have left all those animals in the cold and a good many of them would not have survived.  Paul knew that too so he kept looking. Lizards, guinea pigs, frogs, cats, dogs, fish-I can’t even remember what all we had. Many of them have passed on now but I was so overwhelmed at the time.

By now our phone lines are up and my mother calls. It’s about 6pm or so. Home depot, she tells me, has not only kerosene heaters but generators, too. She also tells me she has called the electric company to advise them she’s handicapped so they will put her in as a priority. Since we live next to her house, in her mobile home park, it was good news. Paul and I jump in the car and saying prayers head back to Greensboro and Home Depot.

Yes! We now have a keresone heater and a generator. On the way home I make Paul swear no gasoline will come near this heater and he agrees willingly. Reaching home we get everything set up and the girls came home to help with animals before heading back to their Memew’s house and the tv running off the generator.

There were no clean clothes, no clean dishes, no clean bodies, no clean hair, no water. We did have clean teeth because of the bottled water and we were able to wash up in a limited fashion but it’s not the same as bathing. In no way were we prepared for this ice storm. We were exhausted and stressed but we couldn’t stop. We ate out, went to the laundromat, scoured stores for batteries/flashlights/water/wipes, etc.  We bought ice (how ironic is that?)  and put it in a cooler to keep our cold stuff, cold. In short we worked our rears off.

Sunday comes and my brother’s wife Angie invites us over for a meal and a bath. We were so grateful and went over for dinner and a much needed shower. We barely noticed the cat hairs. Lol.

About one hour after we get home the electricity comes on.

Hallelujah!

We still had days of having to go far and wide for water, bread and milk because there were people who went weeks without electricity but the worst was over. Of the animals I only lost one angel fish. While I sad about her loss I was thankful it was just the one.

What did I learn from this? First, I made Paul promise he would never, ever put me in that position again. He fixed the first kerosene heater (replaced the wick) and boxed up it and the second heater up. We never did use the generator because there wasn’t time to get it hooked up and then the electricity came on. I’m not complaining cause who wouldn’t want electricity over a generator.? No guesses where I stand!  So we still have a never been used generator. Second, I swore I would not get caught with laundry and dishes piled up during a snow storm again. I haven’t either. Third, we made an emergency box. We have all those things pulled out today and we’re getting ready.

So guess what we’re doing today? Yep. Laundry and dishes. I ran some errands for my mom, shopped for us and checked on his mom. We’ve been busy.

Paul has kept his promise. He worked all night for Timkin and today he has worked all day to be ready for this storm. He has been great. I love him so much.

Holly is coming down from Maryland. She is bringing Rex to stay with us while she goes to stay with John in Florida while he’s working there for his job. It has already started snowing, sooner than expected. I’m already saying prayers for her and for us when we go to get her from her mother in law’s home. We’re expecting to pick her and Rex up about 9pm but it could be later now because of the early arrival of the snow.

I’m praying for snow, not ice. Please no ice.

Oh, and Pathogen came in the mail today. Emily, the thirteen year old who directed it, included a pay pal receipt with her signature on it. I need to get ready to go.

Forgive me, please, for grammar errors. Cause I’m not checking tonight.

Say a prayer for us.

Peace.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ruth Baker
    Jan 30, 2010 @ 20:56:33

    Wow what a comedy of errors. Never trust a McGill Husband when he says oh it’s not going to do anything. LOL Without your crazy experience though you wouldn’t have been able to share it.

    I remember the snow we got in 2001 on January 25th my birthday. how excited the boys were to get out and use their snow sleds Connie had got them some 5 years before and the fun they had sliding down the street on the sleds. We had our kerosene heater all ready and had bought the kerosene the day before had candles ready and it was good when the power went out. Played board games by candle light and tried to stay warm in the family room. It was fun and a treasured fun time I had with my sons. I remember them trackng in that snow which was like 17″ deep and their laughter drinking hot chocolate.

    Life is exciting itsn’t it.

    We got about 6-8″ of snow last night, it is a slick coating of ice over it now and Dirk arrived home early from Walmart. He said people were coming and going over there and the roads were getting more and more dangerous. Hope you’re prepared to stay in tomorrow.

    Butch went to the grocery store and stocked up on everything we needed so we’re warm and comfy so far. If the heat & power goes off we have the fireplace.

    Reply

  2. Diane
    Jan 30, 2010 @ 23:54:25

    Wow! What an experience.

    Why not knock a hole in one outside wall and add a large brick fireplace ready for the next blow? Then get a pile of chopped wood ready for the fire.

    You could cook bread or damper (scone mixture in shape of bread) and even a stew in that large fireplace. Best food for cold weather.

    I will never complain about the heat again in Brisbane. Just quietly turn the aircon on each morning and off each night.

    Reply

  3. curiocat
    Jan 31, 2010 @ 19:00:13

    I don’t know Diane. Flash fires or ice storm? Neither sounds good to me but of the two I think you have a better chance with the ice storm. Weren’t you pretty close to those flash fires a year or so back?

    I’d like to get a big fireplace but first have to get my own land first. We are working on that.

    **********************************************

    Ruth, hon, I don’t think we can refer to Paul as a McGill husband again. He’s grown so much these last couple of years. I keep pinching myself and whispering prayers we or I don’t screw it up. He’s really been great.

    Reply

  4. Diane
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 20:09:26

    I think the fires you were talking about were the ones in Victoria or possibly the ones in southern New South Wales, but here in the south east corner of Queensland we don’t get many fires. All the natural bush has been removed to build houses, roads, etc so not much chance of natural fuel building up.

    Also this corner of Queensland and New South Wales seems to get good rain fall every year so keeps most of the ground cover green. The other spots that get rainfall are north Queensland and most of Western Australia. The rest of the country battles bush fires most years because the local councils don’t believe in back burning (low heat fires to remove rotting leaves and branches but with enough heat to activate all the seeds waiting to germinate).

    Not sure if hiding under ground /or in water waiting for a fire to pass over is worse than freezing during an ice storm or snow storm like you lot suffered. Personally, I would rather not experience either.

    Now that would make for a good scene for some characters. Fighting a fire in the countryside then racing towards water and diving in with the fire on their heels. Hmm!

    Good luck with saving for your own block of land. 🙂

    Reply

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Curio’s Past, Shhh.