Saturday, January 20, 2007

We Survived

We survived the terrible ice storm of January 2007.
Friday the 12th it started to rain and then to sleet. I ran out and did my shopping and left Bryan with the babies, Hannah 4 and Jeddie 14 mos. and with the kids I was babysitting, (Ana 4, Gwenny 2, Tata 14 mos, Ryu 5, and Toshi 3). The stores were packed. It took me 2 hours to get my shopping done and get back home. Bryan was banging his head on the wall when I got back and said "NEVER AGAIN". I thought that it was funny that I function under conditions like that all the time and it isn't ever considered something special. Interesting. :o)
The ice storm hit hard and fast. The power started to flicker by 7 p.m. and went out. It was so bad the Bryan opted not to go into town to work and I am so glad that he didn't. We we woke up in the morning there was an inch of ice on everything.
The trees
It was so beautiful in the morning but got scary fast when the house started getting colder and colder.
All night we could hear creaking and groaning of all the trees in our woods. Every now and then you would hear a loud crack and then the crashing of the trees as they fell. That went on for days. I got hit in the shoulder by a small branch at my mom's house next door and it hurt pretty bad. The ice made that small branch pretty heavy. We lost 4 trees in our yard. My mom and dad lost several. We were all very lucky that none of them fell on our houses.
Here are some more pictures from our yard.
Branch close-up
This is after the first morning. The second day it was twice as thick.
Cloths line
Do you know how long it takes to dry cloths by a fire?
24 hours. Jeddie wears cloth diapers and goes through about 5-6 per day. I had to hand wash them and hang them to dry at my mom's house by her wood stove. That got old fast. I love my cloth diapers but not that much. By day 3, Bryan was able to make it back into town to work and brought me back a package of disposable diapers. I was very thankful.
Day 1 we just sat around eating and expecting the power to come back on any time. By the second day it started to sink in that we might be in trouble. Bryan worked all day getting things going for me and getting the cars open. He drove down our dirt road and discovered how much trouble we and our neighbors were in. The transformer at the pole at the end of our road was sideways and there were 2 poles on the ground and our electric lines were in the road. The power wasn't coming on anytime soon. When he finally made it into town he said it looked like a bomb had gone off and flattened most of the countryside. There were hundreds of trees down and many poles. He came home so depressed. The reports first came that we wouldn't get power for 4-5 days, then a week, then weeks to a month. I felt like crying. It was SO cold. The day temps by Monday were in the high teens and at night it was almost down to Zero. I had to fight to keep my family safe and warm. Our home is all electric so we had no lights, no heat and no water. We needed a plan.
Bryan went right out and got started working on heat. He scavenged cinder blocks from around our place and build me a make shift fireplace on our front porch.
Make-shift fire place
I put a grate in there and was able to heat water all day long. I put that hot water in the sinks in the kitchen for washing dishes and it helped heat the rooms up just a little. It also worked well to boiled soup on.
You can see wood all around the fire place. That is frozen wood from my yard that Bryan cut up for me that I am thawing by the fire so I can burn it the next day. That was an all day job.
I also got out or BBQ grill and used that too cook meals. It was slow but it worked. I never did get a boil off it but the pancakes were great! So was the bacon.
Cooking arrangements
Here I was making hot cocoa. We drank a lot of that during the week.
Here's the recipe:
Hot cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
1/3 cup water
Boil this together and add:
4-5 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
What helped us survive this was Water. You don't realize just how much you depend on it until you can't get any. For Several years Bryan and I have been storing water in our food storage. We are told to have 72 hours water per family member and we had just that. We have been filling bleach bottles with water as we empty them and gallon juice bottles too. These are not drinkable but they will do for washing and flushing toilets. A MUST!
Good friends came to our aid with the water. My father -in-law let Bryan stop by and helped him re-fill jugs while the water supply lasted in Neosho. Their water mains burst and they were without water for a couple of days. Our friends Dan and Brenda showed up with BBQ, soup and water for us and our animals. We can't thank them enough! Another friend Diana invited us to come and refill during the week too as she had water but still no power. One friend had power through the whole thing and she, Jill, invited me and the kids to come and clean up and do a load of wash on Thursday. It was so wonderful to feel clean again. Good friends really came to our aid and touched me with their kindness. My best friend, Vea, called several times and kept my spirits up and got hold of her brother David and had him bring us a propane camp stove. This was so wonderful. I could cook indoors (for limited times due to carbon monoxide worries) and heat the house a little at the same time. That was wonderful.
On Day 5 we got hold of some extra batteries that just happened to fit the CD player. We were able to hook up the mp3 player to that and listen to some of our favorite books on CD. It was so wonderful to have some technology back. The kids were so happy to listen to their favorite stories at night.
My biggest worry was keeping Jeddie warm and safe. He started the whole ordeal with a cold. He is teething and getting in his molars and had a tough time with that. At night I could bundle him in close to me and hold him to keep him warm but during the day it was hard to keep him warm. I layered him in a turtleneck onsie, Sleeper PJ's, a fleece jacket and pants. I tried to keep a hat on him but he kept pulling it off and hiding it. I didn't give up but it was off more than it was on. He would sit with his sisters Sarah and Caroline while they read his favorite books. I wish I had taken a picture of that but missed it. Here he is reading with Sarah while eating some Fruit Loops that Dan and Brenda brought him. Notice the Fruit Loop book. That helped keep keep Sarah interested in what he was doing. :o)
Keeping Jeddie warm
To keep the kids warm at night I came up with a very clever idea. (or at least I thought so.) I remembered heating large round river rocks when I lived with my brother Joe and putting them in my bed at night during the cold Utah winter when I was going to college. I don't have nice round rocks here but I was able to find some old bricks in my mom's yard. I heated them each evening, wrapped them in old dish towels and placed them at the foot of the beds. I doubled kids up in the beds to try to conserve their body heat. I also found some old emergency reflector blankets and put them in their beds. This worked. The beds were warm when they got in and the bricks helped keep things warm from about 7:00 p.m. too 2:00 a.m. each night. By then their little bodies had generated enough heat to keep them warm till morning. I bundled them in as many quilts and wool blankets as I could get my hands on. I did the same on my bed. I was worried because Bryan works nights and I didn't know if I could keep Jeddie warm enough but with the bricks I did. I scorched my dishtowels though and will have to get some new ones. Oh well. We were warm and I didn't scorch the sheet or the kids. :o)
On Saturday Bryan met some line men in our road and talked to them and found out they were coming to fix our lines. He said if they did he would kiss them. They fixed our lines anyway. :o) I kissed Bryan instead. When the power finally came on again the kids all cheered and I just about cried. I felt so relieved. I realized just how strained I had been worrying all day and night that everyone was safe and warm. I feel sad though today, 3 days later as there are still many families in our area without power. It is still bitter cold outside and I wonder how they are making it. The ones that I know have access to heat and water. I am glad to hear that.
We learned several lessons this past week.
We are not prepared enough. You never know when it will be your turn to have trouble. When it hits, if you are prepared, you are much less scared.
The advice I would give to other is this:
1. Store water. You can't have too much of it. Others near you might need some too and it feels so wonderful to be together enough to actually help someone else in a crisis.
2. Have an alternate heat source and make sure it is safe. Make sure you have adequate blankets and clothing.
3. Store some quick fix food to take the stress off where easy.
I would recommend a 72 hour kit of food, clothing, water, and fuel.
4. Store extra candles, flashlights, and batteries. We found that candles do put out a few BTU's and that you can warm your hands by one. Also the highly scented container candle wax is great. We found that they burned much longer than the other candles and because they were in glass they gave better light. The glass amplified the light.
The list could go on and on. We are so thankful that we made it and that we have power now. We won't be taking that for granted again. Every flicker of the lights stops my heart. Bryan will also never complain about my storing water in odd jugs in weird places. It all came in handy. :O)


Whimspiration said...

I am so glad to hear you all made it through allright!

Store aluminium foil for the next emergency too. It reflects added light and heat into the room from a candle instead of letting it be absorbed be the closest wall.

If you are ever out again, feel free to call us, We're happy to help when we can.

Great idea about the river rocks!

Requiax said...

I'm so glad you came through that. Your story is a great reminder to stay prepared.

k8tykat said...

you are remarkable!!

losabia said...

Oh, my! What a compelling read! I'm so glad to hear you made it through. You and your husband were very resourceful.

How did those pioneers do it?

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