Just a few, short weeks ago I was sharing a post about the snow we had in our area. I was so excited to actually see some of the fluffy white stuff around here, as it is extremely rare! Now, though, the weather forecast was calling for the dreaded ICE! While we tried to prepare, my family and I joked about the Vanilla Ice song from the 80s, “Ice Ice Baby.” This was our attempt to lighten the mood as we braced for the worst.
Ten years ago, we had an ice storm come through our area. I was pregnant with my youngest daughter at the time. Our Winter Wonder Land quite literally became an extremely slippery slope. You could hear the “crunch” beneath you as you tried to walk out on the patio, IF you were lucky to make it across without slipping and falling … hard … on your backside! That hurts terribly, by the way, especially as you get older! Just speaking the truth!
As the ice storm threatened our area and ultimately took down power lines and trees ten years ago, we were forced to flee to shelter. We simply could not remain in our house with an eight year old and being pregnant at the time as well. We were without power at our house for an entire week before the utility company could work their magic to get us back up and running. We were never so glad in all of our lives to get back to our house. It definitely gives new meaning to “Home Sweet Home” when you’re forced out due to conditions beyond your control and not allowed access to your beloved home!
Fast forward now to the present, and here we are in the same situation. The younger generation surely did not remember what it was like ten years ago as they were much smaller, of course. The adults, however, knew full well what the approaching storm would bring. We prepared as best as we could, but our state is simply not set up to handle this type of weather. We’re used to extremely mild winters with everyone freaking out when the temperature dips down a little below freezing. With white stuff in the forecast, we joked that people were rushing to the stores for bread and milk while forgetting how to drive along the way! Now with ice, oh brother, that made it a thousand times worse!
We took all the necessary precautions while some of the youngsters at my children’s school joked about how they were getting their baths in order to prepare for the ice storm. They were joking about it, but I bet they are NOT joking now that we’ve been hit hard by the ice storm! The vast majority of residents are without power. At one point on Wednesday, the media was saying that 220,000 were without power. That number increased within about an hour or so to 330,000. I was forced to stop keeping up with the count when WE lost power and were added to that ever increasing number without power! Since we are all electric in our house, that posed a problem for us yet again! Thankfully we don’t have to deal with this but once every ten years, but … here we were trying to decide whether to stay or whether to go.
We all layered our clothing and wore hats in an effort to stay warm. We were wrapped up in tons of blankets, and we were determined to wait it out. We managed to stay for 18 hours, which included overnight without any heat, no working bathroom facilities, etc. We made numerous calls to the utility company as our governor stated earlier in the week that our state was declaring a state of emergency and not to assume that our utility company would know that we were without power. After several calls, though, it was obvious that we were not getting power any time soon. It was quite frightening, actually, to remain at the house with all of the popping, cracking, and crashing of the tree limbs and trees around us! We finally decided to seek shelter elsewhere. And, so did all the hundreds of thousands in our area without power!
The hotels were packed. There was no room for us in the inn. My daughter said she can imagine now what Mary must have felt like when there was no room for her in the inn when she was expecting Baby Jesus at any moment.
We were in contact with an out-of-state friend who was aware of the weather conditions in our area. He deals with this kind of severe weather all the time, so he was trying to offer helpful hints. Then he decided to try to call with his priority card to see if he could get us into a local hotel. Much to our surprise, he called back to say that he was able to get a room. ONE room was available now in our town. ONE!! We jumped at the chance to seek shelter in this one beautiful hotel room. We didn’t care if it was the size of a cracker box. It was going to be ours for the next couple of days, and it would provide warmth! It would enable us a chance for a warm shower and other comforts that one just really takes for granted!
We packed our clothes and all of our belongings that we wanted to take with us. You know, the essentials like cell phones, chargers, ipods, computers … the really important stuff! Hey, it has enabled me to stay in touch with my readers, so for that I am extremely thankful!
The task at hand, then, was trying to get out on the roads that, hopefully, would not still be covered in ice! We dodged fallen power lines and trees, but we made it safely to the hotel with only one minor incident. We saw the huge chucks of ice on the power lines and stop lights. We tried to purposely NOT stop under one of those bad boys “just in case” it decided to giveaway as we were underneath it! That worked well until we got closer to the hotel, and a huge chuck of ice fell off of the stop light and onto the top of our Tahoe. I thought surely someone had run into us with the large crash and how it shook the entire vehicle. However, it was just the ice that came crashing down as we made our way through the intersection. Yikes! We made it to the hotel, checked the vehicle, and thankfully, no major damage! Whew! What a relief.
Once inside the hotel room, we cranked up the heat and kicked back to enjoy the warmth, something we hadn’t felt in many hours at that point! We were grateful, oh so grateful for the heat!
My parents live way back in the woods down a long dirt road. They are surrounded by trees. Thankfully we were able to talk to them on the phone throughout all of this, but they were unable to get out due to all of the fallen trees. My dad said that it sounded and looked like a war zone! One of their neighbors a little further down the road had reported fallen power lines, so even if they were able to get out of their driveway (which wasn’t happening any time soon), they would not be able to get down the dirt road safely. They are all electric in their house, but their shop has a small gas space heater. They sought shelter in the shop to keep warm.
At the time of this writing, our power still has not been restored. We are still in the comfort of the hotel room, but we are being told that we will have to leave tomorrow as others that are without power have called in to book rooms. While we are not being told a specific time frame that power will be restored at our house, others have said that Monday may be the earliest we will have power. In the meantime, we will have to either 1) pray that others cancel due to power being restored at their house so they no longer need the rooms or 2) that our power is restored tomorrow morning, preferably before check out time at 11 a.m. Oh, if it only worked that way!
My parents were able to cut their way out today, quite literally. Neighbors came with chainsaws to help them clear the road for utility workers to get down there to help with the power lines. The neighbors also brought their tractor with a front end loader to help push fallen trees out of my parent’s driveway so they can at least get out if they want to now. They were so incredibly thankful for this help, and I am proud of our state that at a time like this, people will help their fellow man! Thank God for that! Thank God for good neighbors!
Tonight, there was even an earthquake in South Carolina! No, I am NOT kidding you! It was felt all the way to Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina. My parents, being without power, did not know what happened last night. My dad was describing a very loud noise where the entire house shook. He ran to the door to see what was going on. He said he still does not know where that came from or why the house shook. That’s when I told him this afternoon about the official earthquake. He was in disbelief as I shared with him.
As you can see, there has been a LOT of excitement around here this past week. Whew! I am grateful to God above for His goodness. I am thankful that He has had His hand upon us the entire time and has sheltered and protected my entire family.
The last we checked back at our house, the ice was melting due to increased temperatures today. We did not see any damage from fallen trees on or near the house, although there are plenty down in our yard. Praise God for that! While trees fell close to my parent’s shop, so close that it scraped the side of it coming down at one point, God shielded them and saw that no harm was going to come to them. I just thank God for His goodness, mercy, and grace.
And … we wait.
What is so funny about the South is that while we had a few days of record breaking temperatures as the ice storm moved through threatening our area, the high next week is supposed to be near 70! How it can go from extreme temperatures to something so pleasant in such a few, short days is beyond me. It is absolutely amazing to this little Southern Belle! I can tell you one thing, though, I cannot wait to feel the warmth of the sunshine on my face again!
Please keep the South in your prayers!
*Update: After writing this last night, our power has been restored mid afternoon today! Yea! We are safe and sound in the comforts of our own home now. Thank GOD for lineman working 16 hour shifts, as well as having additional crews come in from different parts of the state to help out! Some are still without power at this point, my parents included, but great progress has been made. There are lots of extremely grateful hearts in the South right now!
During all of this, we had a great time spending quality time together as a family. I am so very proud of my children as they did not complain. Instead, we enjoyed each other’s company, dancing around, even jogging up and down the hallway at one point to keep warm in the middle of the night on the first night without power. We laughed, cuddled, and weathered the storm together!