Hopefully everybody hasn't totally quit reading the blog because I haven't posted since the 6th! I promise I was going to. And then this ice storm hit and kind of messed up my plans!
Everything was pretty much covered in ice when we went to bed Sunday night, but it didn't look THAT bad. I mean really...we've had much worse storms before (I thought). The roads were just wet. It was just barely below freezing. But it was the kind of ice that covered everything living. Grass, trees, shrubs. They were hanging low with the weight of the ice.
At about 4:45 in the morning I woke as the electricity shut off. Our electricity goes off often throughout the year, but they always have it back on in a day or two. Eric and I and the kids got up Monday morning, de-iced the car, and headed to Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market to buy some food that didn't need to be warmed in any way. We have a gas fireplace but everything to cook food is electric in our house. We got to Wal-Mart about 9am and it was pretty empty.
All of the businesses on the way were completely black, except Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market and Quick-Trip (gas station). They had generators. Wal-Mart was out of fire wood but we weren't TOO worried. I suggested we get some of the firelogs they had but Eric thought that was ridiculous--we would find wood.
So we bought our groceries. Choices are limited when there's no heating up and you can't refrigerate! Tuna, Peanut butter, bread, cheese and crackers, chips and bean dip, fruit, juice, pastry....yeah....I think that about covers it.
Off we headed to hunt for firewood. We waited in line for 30 minutes to get gas first. Then we headed to the Supper Walmart. CLOSED! DARK! And no wood. That was the story of the morning. We went to 10 different places looking for wood, but it was all long gone. We went back to the original store to find fire logs. Gone. Long gone. D batteries? Gone. Everywhere. By the time we made it back to the original store 3 hours after we had first been there the shelves were void of anything one might need to weather the storm with no electricity. Peanut butter, bread, batteries, wood, flashlights, candles....all gone.
We went back home feeling a bit defeated and a LOT tired, but were still trying to be upbeat. After all, it was a chance to "rough it" a bit. How cold could it get in the house? If nothing else, we'd just run the gas in the fireplace to keep warm. [Little did we know at that point that really, gas alone doesn't put out much heat. You need the wood to put off some real heat.]
We visited our in-laws (who also had no power) that evening and had warm bean soup (they have a gas stove). We played dominoes by candlelight. We stayed semi-warm. Then we went home to our dark house. It was obvious very quick that we needed wood. We have a small pile of green wood from a storm that hit us earlier this Autumn and decided it was better than nothing. We brought it in ice-covered and threw it in the fire! It burned...eventually....like it took all night to go through one big log.
We made a big pallet with two twin mattresses, cozied up to the fire, and slept warmly under several layers of clothes and blankets on Monday night.
By Tuesday morning the novelty of the "roughing it" thing had TOTALLY worn off! It was raining and 34 degrees. It was dark. It was cold. And our food choices stank (literally and figuratively).
Another factor in this is that Eric wasn't able to hook up for dialysis because it is an electric pump. By Tuesday morning he was feeling it. He did some manual exchanges, but this was hard as well, because the dialysis fluid is supposed to be heated with a heating pad up to body temperature. No go! So there we stood, rotating the dialysis bag like a rotisserie chicken by the fireplace!
Tuesday afternoon we got the call that Eric's parents had electricity again, so it was a pretty quick decision to come over here and wait out the electrical outage. We've been here since Tuesday evening. It's always a bit stressful to stay at the in-laws, but we're warm and we're loved. =-) Eric had a bad day to "pay" for his day without proper dialysis but he seems okay now (after a night of throwing up).
As of this morning there is still no power at our house. They are estimating it could be next Tuesday. This was the largest electrical outage in Oklahoma history--over 600,000 homes are without.
It was hard to grasp the magnitude of the damage from the storm until yesterday when I got out and drove around for the first time. This storm has truly changed the face of our city. The trees that were the oldest and most beautiful were the trees that were most badly damaged. Our city really truly looks like a category 5 tornado went through it. I know! I graduated from OU just 3 days after a category 5 tornado hit Midwest City in 1999. The trees are mangled and twisted and ugly. The electricity will be restored in time, but our trees will never look the same.
One happy story in all of this is that of the Shawnee Tribe Counsel Oak Tree. It was at this tree in 1836 that an important meeting took place that eventually paved the way for Oklahoma's statehood. The Counsel Oak was undamaged, although almost all the trees around it were damaged or destroyed.
Another up in all of this is seeing our community rise to the occasion to help one another. We Okies have done it before. The OKC Bombing in 95. The Category 5 tornado in 1999. The community has started "Project Firewood." Those that have extra donate it to those that have nothing. I heard a story yesterday of a family that pulled up with a carload of kids. When the kids saw the wood they all started crying. They had been hunting for so long, and now it was going to be GIVEN to them. It sounds silly--being so desperate for firewood. But people are. They are picking up the green branches that fell on Sunday and Monday and trying to burn them to no avail. People are cold and desperate.
The first night with no heat had some novelty to it. After that it is discouraging and exhausting and annoying. I can't imagine what a nutcase I would be if we were still stuck in our cold dark house, like so many thousands of OK families are right now. Please pray for them. It's physically survivable, but emotionally exhausting. And we're supposed to get up to 6 inches of snow this weekend.
Well, I've made this long enough. I took some pictures yesterday--all within a few blocks of our house. I'll upload them to the blog next. Our neighborhood wasn't hit nearly as bad as some of the other areas of town. And the Gillispie family specifically, was beyond blessed not to have even one big branch fall to the ground.
Thursday, December 13, 2007