Friday, December 14, 2007

Ice Storm - Friday Photos

NOTE: I know there are a few people from the Michigan/Minnesota area, as well as Canada that read this blog. This is probably nothing for you; I admit it--we are "winter wussies" down here.

Sunday-Dec 10 - A winter storm moved into our area (Tulsa OK) this morning. Throughout the day, it rained and sleeted. Because the ground was fairly warm, the roads stayed passable, but we began to see ice building up on the trees, bushes, etc. People began losing power early Sunday (we did not) and by the end of the evening, there were large areas of town without power. North of us, the storm was worse and would continue to worsen.

We went to church and then, like everyone else, drove around looking for a grocery store that had power. We bought what we figured we would need for a couple of days and headed home in a steady, freezing rain. We still had power that evening when we went to bed.

Our front yardMonday-Dec 11 - I woke up this morning around 2:00 AM to the sound of tree branches breaking. One major limb of the river birch in our front yard was lying near the front door. I could hear branches breaking throughout the neighborhood; things were not looking good. I went back to bed, but was awakened around 6:00 AM to DEAD SILENCE! That could only mean one thing: we had lost power. Turning on the emergency radio, I discovered we were definitely not alone-most of our county and several to the north were seeing massive outages. By the time the storm ended that day, over 600,000 would be without electricity.

Throughout the day, we listened and watched as trees all around us gave way to the weight of the ice. Both of the trees in our front yard are nearly stripped of their branches. Our neighborhood looks like a "war zone." Authorities are saying power may not be restored in some places until after Christmas! I've never seen anything like this. We have no electricity, no fireplace or woodburning stove, and our cooktop is electric—we cannot cook indoors--we do have an outdoor gas grill--and we have NO heat. Actually, it's not that bad in the house right now, but if this lasts like they say it will, we are going to be in trouble. We charcoaled hamburgers this evening and ate by candlelight. Not a five-star dining experience, but hot food nonetheless.

Destruction on my in-laws propertyTuesday-Dec 12 – No electricity again today. The temperature in the house is—supposedly—62 degrees F. It feels cooler than that, but I'm sure that's just knowing there's NO HEAT. I checked several places in town for a generator—none to be found, but promises of "new shipments" abound. The problem is you have to either put your name on a list and be there when the generators show up or just happen to luck upon a delivery being made. Each place I checked regarding getting my name on a list, they had already allotted the number of generators they hoped to receive.

Dana's parents called (we have cell and land line phone service of all things; you can't cook with that or heat a home, though) and invited us to come to their house for supper (or dinner, depending on what part of the country you live in). They don't have electricity either, but they do have a gas log fireplace and a gas cooktop. A hot meal sounded great, so we loaded up and went to the in-laws for a few hours. They live only eight miles north, but it was AMAZING how much more severe the storm was there! We returned home and slept at our house; it's getting cooler--thermostat doesn't go below 60 degrees, but I can tell. I've got to start thinking about what happens if this continues.

Wednesday-Dec 13 - Still no electricity. We've seen crews from our local power company, as well as from Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas that have come to help with the massive outages. We are now hearing that power may not be restored in some areas until after Christmas. The problem is that many areas have overhead powerlines and many of the poles have broken due to the weight of the accumulating ice. The good news is that the ice/rain has slowed significantly. Temperatures are hovering around mid-30's during the day and low-30's to high 20's at night. We've made use of that situation by putting all of our perishables out on the back porch. Thank God for "natural refrigeration."

Some of the restaurants in town have gotten electricity, so they are doing a BOOMING business. The Taco Bueno near us has had traffic lined up for days. McDonalds and a couple of other fast-food joints also had power in some form by the second day. I went by Braum's this morning and picked up a sack of sausage biscuits and a couple of cups of coffee (The coffee had been sitting there a while, but it was hot. No complaints)

I called around again looking for a generator; NONE in town or surrounding area. Thumbing through the phone book, I noticed the name of a locally owned lumber yard (Pixley Lumber) in Claremore- about 20-25 miles east of us. I had heard that they had not received near the devistation we had, so I called thinking: (1) maybe they haven't had the run on chain saws (those are rare, too) and generators we have had and (2) hopefully no one or few have thought to call them. Praise God! They had 120 generators they had just received that morning. An hour later, they had one less.

I got the central heat up and running, dragged several extension cords through the house and we were set! HEAT! I can eat a lot of cold Pop Tarts® as long as I'm warm. We also had cable TV of all things. Now we just need a way to cook. We returned to Dana's parents' this evening. She has two sisters living in the area, so we all got together and the girls cooked three-way chili. Good stuff on a c-o-l-d night.

Thursday-Dec 14 - A warm night thanks to the generator. We ran the generator all last evening until we went to bed, then shut it down. I didn't like the idea of "broadcasting" throughout the night to the entire neighborhood and any potential thieves: "Hey, there's a generator over here!" I got up this morning, fired up the heat and made coffee--first fresh coffee in days. Dana and I set out looking for an electric hot plate. We split up--divide and conquer--and a few hours later, we were the proud owners of a two-burner hot plate. Generator + hot plate = home cooked meal tonight.

Candle isle at Wal-MartIt's been really interesting to notice some of the things people buy during a power outage. The obvious items: generators, candles, oil lamps (the sign in the picture says they're "temporarily out"), flashlights, etc. If you really want to see something interesting, be there when a store wheels out a new shipment of WHATEVER! People will buy pretty much anything in quantity if they think there's a limited inventory. Really, what do you do with a dozen flashlights?! I also noticed that people buy a lot of beer during a power outage/ice storm. Human anti-freeze?

I went back to Dana's parent's and hooked up their central heat this morning. Her Dad was able to buy a generator by getting up at the crack of dawn and standing in line. A couple of people didn't show up for generators they had "signed up" for-- "must be present to win."

I grilled pork chops on the outdoor grill while Dana made mashed potatoes and corn on the hot plate. Not really "roughing it," but it was actually kinda fun. Around 7:00 PM, the "miracle" happened: after four days, the electricity came back on!!! We spent the next hour putting the house back in order and stowing away the "survival gear."

Watching the weather this evening, they are predicting SNOW Friday and Saturday anywhere from one to six inches. Temps remain in the 20's and low 30's.

Postscript: Officials are saying this morning (Friday) that 328,500 are still without power. Our neighborhood has been checking on each other; yesterday several of us got out and began cutting up the downed trees. Most of the wood was snatched up for firewood--God provides even in a disaster.

Oklahoma has been declared a disaster area by President Bush. Supposedly that gives us some type of assistance from FEMA. We'll see.

You can see more pics of the storm here.

Some final thoughts:

  • God is good, all the time. Even though we didn't have heat, etc. for a while, we DID have a roof over our heads and food. He even provided things like generators when we needed them.
  • I am grateful for men and women that work tirelessly for power companies during times like these.
  • I saw a LOT of good/kind acts--neighbors helping neighbors, people being patient in long lines, etc.
  • I saw greed and price gouging. Also heard about low-lifes that had no problem taking advantage of the situation in numerous ways.
  • I learned some things about some people in particular. No details here, but suffice it to say, I didn't like what I saw.
  • As a family, we really enjoyed the time together: no TV, no outside distractions. We played cards, talked and simply enjoyed each other's company. Not that we weren't doing any of those things, but I hope they continue beyond the "storm."

Friday Photos

Frozen Flowers

Tangled Branches and Ice

flickr: Friday Photo Group


Baxter said...

Love the pictures! I'm grateful that God provided for you and your family. Those kinds of experiences can be fun, like the creative ways you need to think about things we so easily take for granted, and the time you spent in quiet interaction with your family. And I, for one, don't think you're "winter wussies", it was a pretty bad storm. I know what you mean about the "war zone" atmosphere. Hopefully those trees will consider themselves majorly "pruned" and thrive in seasons to come. :) Great recap of your experience...I can so totally relate. Well, I'm off to check out the rest of your storm pictures...

Baxter said...

The flowers "frozen in time" are fantastic! Those trees at the house you grew up at look as though the tops were just sheared off :(. And it's funny, when I looked at the candles still on the shelf at Wal-mart I had this picture pop into my head that even in a time of necessity it is human nature to be "picky".

nacotaco said...

I`m glad your ok Keith and your family too.

nacotaco said...

oh I love the picts with the ice flowers, its really unique and beautiful......even the worst things and times have beauty..

Jim from said...

Neat pictures Keith! I hope all is well with your home and family.

Keith said...

Nacotaco and Jim: Our family is well. We are warm and able to cook now that the electricity is back on.

Been helping the neighbors clear trees, etc. that past couple of days.

St. Brianstine said...

That bottom photo is awesome. Guess who DOESN'T miss living in North Dakota? ME!!!!