Twenty-four inches of snow for those who were dreaming of a white Christmas. Then kids playing outside without jackets New Years Day, followed by the ice storm that created a winter wonderland and plunged most of the county into cold and dangerous darkness. That’s good old Ohio weather.
Most of us seemed to be ready for the ice storm. We had plenty of warning. The groceries were busy, but not swamped. Most of us were pretty well stocked. The power outage was a different story.
The last extended power outage in our neighborhood that I remember was a summer day back in the 1970s. A thunderstorm rolled through late in the afternoon and left us without electricity.
We finished supper and went out on the porch while it was still daylight. We watched as emergency vehicles screamed by, and neighborhood men cleared the fallen branches out of the streets and off the sidewalks. The women watched the kids and visited. It was like a neighborhood block party.
By around 10 p.m., when it was really dark, the DP&L men were in our backyard restoring the power. I was so relieved when the lights came back on I didn’t even care that we had to replant the vegetable garden.
This time I woke up about 2 that morning and assumed nature was calling. Then I realized the house was totally dark. No children to worry about here. The house was warm, so I went back to sleep, assuming the power would be back on by morning.
Next time I woke up it was cold. The new electric blanket doesn’t work without electricity. Where did I put the old quilt? Did I even want to get up to look for it?
Dress in layers was the first rule. I remembered, so I did. Then I heard a particularly strange buzzing. “It’s the telephone,” Bill told me. The cordless phones went out with the power, so he had plugged in an old phone.
It was the youngest daughter calling to tell us the streets weren’t bad, so she was going to the grocery. She asked if we needed anything. I realized we had no battery operated radio nor many batteries.
We went to the store and discovered the C and D batteries were almost gone. A nice couple in the electronics department handed me the last cheap radio on the shelf. An accommodating clerk found the necessary batteries to operate it.
Then my granddaughter helped me find some really neat flashlights and more batteries. It occurred to me that most of the food I had required cooking and we had an electric stove, so we bought some bread and an assortment of lunch meat.
Then we had to go to other stores because my daughter didn’t get her battery operated lantern. Someone grabbed the last three off the shelf just as she reached for one.. By then the store was more crowded, and it was rather like the after Thanksgiving Day sale in the electronic and sports departments. She did find two lanterns in another store and bought one for me. Talk about classy, it had a remote control.
Our kids were really watching out for us, which was really nice. Still by Friday afternoon the heater wasn’t working so well, and we were cold in spite of our layers of clothes.
Here we were in our home, with winter coats and boots on, shivering. So we had to stop being “bull-headed” and go visit the kids who had electricity restored until we got our power back by Friday night.
But, you know something, we really felt lucky! The newspapers were full of stories and pictures about the tsunami victims. Yep, we were really lucky.
AUTHOR’S NOTE; This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate Jan. 12, 2005.