Yesterday, we had beautiful snow. I like snow. The kids like snow. They played, started a snowman and made snow angels. It was pretty. I took pictures.
All was good.
Last night, the freezing rain started. Freezing rain I do not like. School had already been cancelled, so I knew we didn’t have to go anywhere. Travel didn’t worry me. What worried me was the power going out. We are all electric in our house. We are on a well too, so no power means no water and no heat for us. Add Racer being gone and I was really getting nervous. Oh wait, maybe that’s because I was having flashbacks to the Ice Storm of January 2009 that hit Kentucky and Tennessee.
During that ice storm, I lived in one of the hardest hit areas. I remember moments of the night it hit. You could hear the freezing rain hitting. We were warned that ice was coming, but I don’t think anyone expected what we got. Being from a more “wintry” state growing up, I wasn’t that concerned. But as the storm when on, you just knew it was going to be bad. Soon you could hear snapping, popping, crackling sounds. Not good. The power went out. Our house at the time had a gas hot water heater, so at least we had hot water. Gorilla was 1 1/2 months old and I was nursing, so we didn’t need to make bottles, we had food to eat, so we thought we’d be okay.
We had some phone communication, so we were in contact with others. (Let me just put in a plug here for ALWAYS having a phone that is NOT cordless. When the power went out and cell service was sketchy, we still had a “land line” that worked great for a while.) Rumors were flying about water supply, so we filled up pitchers and the bathtub. The water did indeed go out because the water company didn’t have power and the generators weren’t working properly or something. Maybe they weren’t strong enough. I don’t remember, but regardless, we didn’t have water. Then it just got plain cold. We tried going to Red Cross shelter, but I just couldn’t do it. Too many people, so much uncertainty, so Racer and I decided that I would head out of town with the kids.
Back home we went to pack up some stuff and head out. We got on the road and started driving. Thankfully I had 1/2 tank of gas in the car because when I say the power was out, I mean it was out for a HUGE area. I think 1/2 of the state was without power. That means no gas stations that have gas either. So as we got going, the travel was slow. Interstates were open 1 lane and MANY people were travelling to get gas for generators, cars, get food/water or just to head out to a safer area. The first route I tried, I had to turn back because a major power line was across ALL lanes of the interstate and no one was passing. So we headed another way.
As we continued (remember, I had a 7 week old, a 23 month old and a 7-year-old at the time), the traffic got heavier and the road conditions got worse. At one point, I was blocked in with semis on all sides of me, driving in slippery, slushy mess, with 1/8 tank of gas and no open fill-ups in site. I was praying “Jesus keep us safe, Jesus stretch our gas” over and over and over. Eventually the roads cleared some and we made it to a familiar town that was full of power. It was time to fill up our car and our tummies.
We stopped at a Steak-n-shake. We had to have looked like a mess. No one had bathed in a couple of days (no water remember) and I’m this single woman with 3 kids – tired and flustered. We got food and I was trying to nurse Gorilla and get the others to eat. Girlie all of a sudden said her tummy hurts. You guessed it – she then proceeded to throw up. Professor is saying to the waitress “We almost ran out of gas. We really need to get gas.” All I can think and say is “Let’s get out of here and get to grandmas.” As I take Girlie to the bathroom to clean up, Professor and Gorilla stay at the table being watched by a lovely couple sitting near us. When I get back, someone hands me $10 for gas and the waitress tells me that our bill was paid. I thanked God, left the ten for a tip and loaded the kids in the car. We got gas and headed the rest of the way to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
As I was driving away, I can’t imagine what people thought we were doing. I don’t know if they knew about the ice storm or not, but I’m grateful for the mercy and assistance they showed that day. I’m grateful that God did indeed keep us safe and stretch our gas.
We spent the next couple of weeks at my parent’s house. Phone contact was hard. Racer had to go to Daytona for work for a few days. He did join us for a little bit, bringing the pets to us since they couldn’t stay at the house. We had an enjoyable couple of weeks (I actually got to be present when my nephew was born), but back home it was a MESS.
Professor said it looked like a winter wonderland. I think it looked like a bunch of popsicle sticks that had been bent and broken. Huge trees had buckled under the weight of the ice. Houses and cars were damaged by the fallen limbs. The National Guard came in to assist with rescue and clean-up. Although the ice on the trees did have an eerie beauty, what was more beautiful was the way the community came together to help each other out. Neighbors with generators took in families that needed warm shelter. Strong bodies with chain saws went out in the cold to cut fallen trees up for those who couldn’t. People with food and a way to cook made meals to share with those who didn’t have a way to eat. While I fled to “safety,” many people stayed behind, toughing it out, bonding with their family and friends over board games, simple food and service to others. That is a beautiful thing.
So as I sit here this morning, thanking God for protection last night and power this morning, I also thank God for His provision during that ice storm. While He showed His power with the storm, God showed His grace and mercy through the hands and feet of others. While I’m grateful for the lessons learned, I hope I never have to experience that again.