From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Ice Storm Photos

We're OK, but the trees aren't.





Our electricity went out about 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 27, after the first night of freezing rain. Rain continued to fall throughout the day, melting the ice on the road, but forming icicles 4 to 6 inches long on tree branches that were already encrusted with half an inch of ice.

Breaking tree branches


The electricity came back on for about 45 minutes late in the afternoon and then went out for good. The temperature remained at 32°, and the rain continued to fall. As it grew dark, ice began to freeze on the roads again and the trees began breaking. It was terrible to hear the thunderous cracks and snaps, like gunshots, as the limbs broke. The breaking continued all night.

Some tree limbs hit our house, but fortunately, we don't think we have any damage. I've heard several stories of trees that went through roofs and windows. The bottom left photo above was taken Wednesday morning through our big living room window.

I didn't go to work on Wednesday because we had tree limbs blocking the way out of our yard and a tree down between our house and the highway. Dennis and the neighbors got all that cleared out Tuesday afternoon after the snow quit.

Some electricity restored

A retired electrical worker who was summoned back to work came through the neighborhood on Thursday, fixing what he could from the ground. He replaced the fuse in a transformer at the head of our power line, and our neighbor Clarence's power came back on.

However, the repairman couldn't help the other three families on this line. The main power line that serves us is broken and on the ground, in the field past Clarence's house. We also have an electric pole that is leaning, and the wire that leads to our house is damaged where it hooks onto the pole.

On Friday, Clarence (bless his heart!) ran an electrical line to our house from the old barn where he has his workshop, near one edge of our little property. We brought the line into the house through the dryer vent so we wouldn't have to keep a window or door open. There's a breaker box on the barn end of the line, and on this end, an outlet.

We plugged a heavy-duty GFCI/circuit breaker outlet (like construction guys use) into the outlet. If it starts to get hot because we have too many things plugged in, the circuit will break immediately. So far, no problems. We are running the refrigerator, one lamp, and at times, the computer. We have also run the washing machine, with everything else unplugged.

The simple life

We don't know when our "real" electricity will be back in service, but what we have is a great improvement from not having electricity at all. We are in pretty good shape compared to many. We have both wood and propane heat, and our water has not had any problems. We can heat water and our food on the wood stove.

Life after dark has been centered in the single room that has light. While we were using the oil lamps, I went through a big stack of magazines and clipped what I want to save. Now that we have an electric light, we've been doing a jigsaw puzzle. The radio was a vital source of information during and after the storm. Now that we can run the computer, we feel less isolated and better informed.

Keely's power came on Saturday morning about 10:00 a.m. Her house got down to +25° inside on the coldest night, but she didn't want to leave the cats. She survived with lots of blankets, but she was very, very happy when the electrical crew showed up at her house at last.

Recovery

We have a terrible mess in our yard -- many branches on the ground and more dangling from the trees. There's also a limb on our roof. Dennis worked a little on Saturday with the chain saw, but it was too dangerous with the ice falling from the trees. Now all the ice is down and melted, so we're going to work hard on the branches tomorrow.

School is cancelled again on Monday in Christian County and neighboring counties. I believe a couple of the schools still don't have electricity and Dennis said the school-cancellation phone call said something about secondary problems in some other schools after the electricity was restored.

Much more could be told, but this post is long enough. I'll try to write about the ice storm stories I've heard from other people in another post.

6 comments:

Beth said...

I'm so glad that you all are alright. Thank so much for the first-hand information on the ice storm. Keep us posted and stay warm.

RunAwayImagination said...

I'll echo Beth's comments. Thanks to Keely for posting on your blog a few days ago to let us know that you all were alright. I'm glad you guys were so well-prepared.

We dodged the ice-storm bullet down here in Nashville; all we got was a lot of rain and a little ice on the windshield a couple of mornings.

Mrs. Mom said...

The photos are beautiful. We watch the news and all that snow, ice, freezing temps, and lack of electricity seems so overwhelming. I'm so glad you are okay. Stay cozy and safe.

nichole said...

That is so great you were able to get some electricity. I have really thought that our country is to dependent on power. When ice storms come although they may be years apart--we are totally crippled. Our yard is a mess but we are doing fine otherwise. I'm glad you are doing as well as you are.

Mark said...

Wow. I haven't seen anything like that around here in close to 50 years. We had an ice storm like that when I was in elementary school. I remember well the sounds of tree limbs cracking all night long.

Genevieve said...

One thing I didn't mention is that unfortunately, those trees are in our yard (except for the photo of the road which shows our neighbor's grove of trees.)

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IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
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