Friday, February 13, 2009

Where Do I Begin?

Where do I begin, posting about the ice storm our area experienced? As I'm writing now, the spring peepers are singing at the pond. It has been in the low 70s since Saturday, they think it's spring. Since the pond is 20 feet from the house, I fall asleep to their singing, and dream of spring. It can't come too soon for me!

The jonquils/daffodils are up as well, after having been under the thick ice and snow for several days. But the jonquils are hardy little troopers, and can withstand the elements better than I! Andrea had said in her post "My Mom is brave." But I am not all that brave.

The last time I posted ( before the torrents of freezing rain came down on the woods,) was on January 27th. We had an inch of snow, but were under a freezing rain advisory. Since we already had a couple of episodes of freezing rain earlier in January, that had kept me in for a few days, I didn't think this one would be a more serious one either. I was wrong! By noon that Tuesday the freezing rain had been pouring for several hours and Eileen called to tell me she lost power. Ice was already everywhere and on everything. She could not come here, or go anywhere else. I told her to call the law, since I heard a shelter was already set up for people with no heat. Then Jan called. She had already lost power as well, but she, like myself, had propane heat not dependent on electricity. I still had power at that point. But not for long. Before dark set in, my power went out as well. The freezing rain continued to pour down.

Did I prepare for the ice storm? Yes, but not expecting it to be as bad as it would get, I was not that well prepared. Besides the propane heat, I also have a small wood stove as back-up, and had lots of wood. I had candles, an oil lamp, and a flashlight, and a couple of little led lights. I also had a battery powered radio, but forgot to stock up on batteries. I had canned food, both bathtubs filled with water, and bottled water as well. But I had a worrisome night, as I kept listening to the pounding rain still coming down. And I hate the dark! I was glad to see daylight on Wednesday morning, but didn't like what I saw. Ice was everywhere and on everything, and the freezing rain was still coming down. Hundreds of birds were waiting at the feeders that I could not go out and fill with the black oil sunflower seeds I had stocked up on. So I pitched seeds out two different windows hoping the birds would find it. They did! The deer where nowhere to be seen.

(Icy Hickory tree by my bedroom.)

After the freezing rain stopped, snow began to fall. And Wednesday night, so did the tree limbs, sounding like bombs hitting the house all night! The cats ran under the bed, the dogs weren't sure what to make of all the noise. The boom, booms continued all night. The deck was full of tree limbs, missing the glass door by a few inches. The top piece of one of the trees that fell against the deck, speared the corner of the roof like an arrow and came through the attic, landing on the kitchen floor, scattering ice all over. In semi dark, with flashlight in hand I gathered several pillows, stood on a chair and with the broom handle pushed the pillows up the hole, to keep out the cold. Greg called and I was crying! Andrea called, and I was crying! Then remembering the huge hickory tree in the back, right behind my bedroom, I moved myself to the living room sofa for the night. I was afraid if that tree fell overnight, the roof would come down on my head, while I was sleeping. Strangely enough, as full of ice as that huge tree was, it only lost one limb, and it didn't fall on the house.
(Ice arch)

Thursday morning I woke up to discover the freezing rain had turned to 4 inches of beautiful, crunchy snow that made it possible to actually walk around outside. But the ice laden trees continued to drop their limbs. I heard on the news that several people were killed by the falling limbs. My car had a smashed rear window. I ventured outside anyway and even took some pictures. Everything looked beautiful! The entire time outside, I could hear the tree limbs snapping off in the woods, sounding like guns going off, as I cautiously held on to my sturdy stick, and stayed out of the way of falling limbs.

Andrea kept the mailman, UPS and Fed Ex busy with her care packages! Greg, who was trying to find a generator and could not find any within 200 miles of here, drove on 200 miles of icy roads to get here on Friday. By then, the road crews were out there clearing the gravel road of tree limbs and scraping the ice off so people could drive out of here. Greg arrived with all kinds of supplies, but no generator! He even ended up taking me to town around noon, after we found out the power had been restored there, and we ate at my favorite Chinese restaurant. It was such a wonderful treat!

Friday evening Eileen called. Since she lives only 3 miles from town, her power had already been restored and she was back home. But she was shaken from the experience. The generator at the shelter she had been first taken to, failed, and they had to transfer the people to the city garage which they quickly set up as another shelter. She said she was shivering from fright, holding her cane and her purse with her medicine, as they held on to her and led her in. I was glad she was back home and all right, but also envious that her power was back on three days later, while mine was still very much in limbo.

The area was declared a disaster area. FEMA came in with water and food; the National Guard arrived. Two cute, young Guardsmen came to visit.

"Is there anything we can get for you that you need?" they asked.

"Yes, you can get me some electricity," I told them.

They chuckled, gave me a hug, and said they wished they could help me. Two nice guys from the Fire Department had come to see about me as well, bringing me an extra flashlight and some batteries. They asked if I would not consider going to the shelter. I said no, I had heat, and I would never leave my animals alone.

Finally, some Linemen from other parts arrived to help our overwhelmed Electric Cooperative fix the lines. Greg had left, as he had to go to work, but was back the following Wednesday. He worked all morning clearing my long driveway of some limbs, so one could drive in and out without dodging them. The sun came out and was melting the ice and snow. I collected water in buckets and refilled both bathtubs. Everyone was given a large supply of bottled water and army food that heats up in the box. But I still had plenty of canned food left, and a few fresh things in the huge Coleman Cooler Greg bought.

Later that Wednesday afternoon a green SUV drove in. It turned out to be Andrea and Jimmy, who drove all the way from Ohio to bring me a generator! It was to be a surprise, and what a surprise it was! Jimmy and Greg set up the generator on the deck, after clearing it off from all the fallen limbs. What a neat device. Of course, it didn't power everything, but Wednesday evening, eight days after the power went off, I had some lights, a working TV and microwave, and I could charge my cell phone. Basics, really, but it was wonderful to see clearly again!

I can never, ever thank Greg, Andrea and Jimmy enough for all that they did to come and help me through the ice storm. I am very blessed! They left early Friday morning to drive home.

Later that morning, I met Eileen in town at our favorite restaurant. We lingered for an hour and a half, and caught up on each others details of how we fared during the ice storm. Back home, around 5 PM I went out on the deck and filled the generator with five gallons of gas. But I decided to wait a bit before starting it, and went back into the house. That's when I had the surprise of my life. The clock on my electric stove was blinking! I hit the light switch. The light came on. Water came gushing out of the faucets, the TV with the satellite worked. Everything worked. It was finally over.

But the cleanup around here will take months, and the forests will take years to recover from the ice storm of 2009. However, it could have been much worse, and there was much to be thankful for.

This past Tuesday, there was some good news in my email. I received a permission release agreement from Chicken Soup for the Soul. My story, "Making the Best of the Worst of Times" will be published in the book "Chicken Soup for the Soul, Tough Times, Tough People " in May of 2009. That story is about my beloved Apa's (Grandfather's) handling of tough times, while we lived in a refugee camp, and this news was a much needed boost, arriving at the end of my own tough times!

Thank you for reading my account of the ice storm. I left many details out, but even so, it is rather long, so I appreciate your patience in reading it. Have a wonderful weekend.

Blessings from the battered woods, where the spring peepers continue to sing, and life goes on!


TheWritersPorch said...

Renie are one brave soul!! I went through the same thing in Tennessee in FEB 94.
23 days with no power! No water(pump) and no heat( all electric)
I am so proud of you! Filling a generator! Thank God you did as well as you did and Eileen too!
Thanks for the post!
Hugs, Carol

Patti said...

Renie, you are so much braver than I would have been in that situation! You are such a trooper! If that ever happens again you will have your generator! Im glad you and your dear friend Eileen are safe. I know spring cant come fast enough!Congratulations on your story being published in Chicken Soup for the Soul.That is wonderful news!Happy Valentine's Day!

bennie and patsy said...

Congratulations on your story of Apa. They should put your story of Winter Ice Storm 2009 in there too. So glad you have family that are so good to you.
Hugs Patsy
P.S. Sorry you are having so much trouble posting comment on my blog but don't give up I love hearing from you.

Patty said...

I knew with everything you have gone through in your life time, you would come through the 2009 Ice Storm. You are a survivor. So glad it's over for you and everything is pretty much back to normal. Congratulations on the article coming out soon in Chicken Soup for the Soul. Hope the roof and your car window are fixed by now. Also hope you had good insurance and won't have to pay that much out of your pocket. It sounds like you have wonderful children.

Gramma Ann said...

Dear Renie,

What a tale to tell! I am so glad the tree didn't fall into your bedroom. But, so sorry to hear about the hole in the ceiling, but stuffing it with pillows to keep out the cold was a smart idea, I would never have thought of that.

I am just glad you came through it and can write about it for the rest of us to read about. I felt like I was there with you. I remember being without electric for a week back in December 1974. It was not fun at the time. But it is just a memory now.

I am glad to hear you are having such warm spring like weather. We are expecting snow this afternoon or tonight, I guess it depends on how fast the storm is traveling.

Congratulations of your good news, I will watch for the "Chicken Soup" book when it is published, in my favorite bookstore.

Have a wonderful week-end.


Granny Annie said...

This was an exciting play-back of your harrowing tale. You had me on the edge of my seat as I got to each "I was crying" part. You sounded so brave and then calmly admitted you were crying. I would have been running around inside my house screaming and crying.

If we ever have to go to a shelter and have to take our medicine I doubt they would let us bring anything else because between us we have a pharmacy. I had not thought of that before reading about your friend.

It is good to know you are safe and sound and good to know you are soon to be published AGAIN. Congratulations!

flydragon said...

What an adventure or should I say misadventure you went through. Enjoyed reading your post!!!

Margaret Cloud said...

Renie, this is such a fascinating post, I am so glad you are okay and congratulation on your story, I am wishing you a Happy Valentine's day, take care and be safe.

Michele said...

Oh, Renie, I didn't realize it was that bad down there! :-( I'm soooooooo very thankful that you're ok -- and your animals! And that Greg, Jimmy, and Andrea trudged through the icy roads to bring you supplies and their love--they are angels!!!!

God bless you, Renie, and here's to a beautiful, sunshine-filled spring!

*smiles and hugs and prayers!*

Ellen said...

so glad you're okay! Can't wait to read your story in the chicken soup book when it comes out.

You might want to get one of those amazing LED flashlights that last forever and ever and give such great light - my favorite is the LEDinsider Zoom Lite at ($49). it runs on 3 AAA batteries. Have extras with it.

When I lived in MN, we learned a lot about how to keep safe in the cold and always kept emergency stuff in the trunks of our cars.

Power bars and WATER are essentials and a snowsuit, the LED flashlight,

Lakeland Jo said...

what a great lady you are, and a brave one. So glad you are ok

Nancy said...

Oh, Renie, you really ARE brave!!! I was engrossed in your post and didn't even answer the business phone while I was reading it! You are a survivor, no doubt about it! And I love how you stuck it out for your pets, too! I didn't know you had heat but glad to hear that you did! Those generators are the thing to have. What a super daughter and son-in-law you have to have driven all that way to bring you one!!! You have such wonderful children!!! You are truly blessed!!!

So happy to hear that Eileen fared well, too! You two amaze me!!! I am glad the storm is over now, but I know the cleanup must be horrendous there.

Anxious for that new Chicken Soup book to come out so I can read your new story!

((( HUGS )))

Susie said...

What an absolutely amazing first hand account of surviving through that terrible ice storm. I think you were much more prepared than many and that certainly helped. I also think you're one of the bravest and self sufficient women I've come to know.
Congratulations on your article being published!

hippo chick said...

What a wonderful account of a not so wonderful experience. You are, inspite of your doubts, very brave. I can't imagaine being without power and running water that long. I was really not brave at all in either of our ice storms.

You are an inspiration to all of us, Renie. What a dear you are.

And what a wonderful family you have.

~hippo hugs~

Winifred said...

My goodness what a tale to tell. Sounds almost like a wartime experience. You had enough of those I'm sure. LOvely that your story is being published, congratulations Renie.

Thank goodness for Andrea & Jimmy woth the generator. Wonderful.

I kept thinking of that lovely Glen Campbell song Wichita Lineman when I was reading about your problems. So if you want to reminisce take a look here Lovely!

Brenda said...

Well, lets hope you never have to go through that again! Sometimes when we go through tough times though it really makes us appreciate every little thing.
Thank God for all the help your family gave you.
Hope our Spring and Summer will be pleasant this year!
I'll be looking for the book in April for sure!
Take care!

ancient one said...

I knew this story would be worth waiting for. You sure know how to write. I read every word. I know that had to be scary with the hole in the roof and limbs still falling. I am so thankful that it ended well. GOD is good!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Mary said...


Congratulations on the Chicken Soup story. I just submitted ones to the Miracle book. It's so nice to have work accepted for publication. Do you ever hear from Guideposts. I haven't heard from them in ages and lost their contact info when my last computer crashed.

Glad you are safe and have family, friends and FEMA and firemen to care for you in times like this.

Happy Valentine's Day my friend.

Rudee said...

What an amazing story! Ice storms are frightening, and so is being without power for so long. I'm glad you're safe and sound.

Red said...

WOW. You weathered the storm. What great kids you have. I hope one day I am as fortunate as you were durning this storm. You are greatly loved. You were greatly missed. I am raising my coffee cup to you in a cheer to an early spring!

Mountain Mama said...

I am absolutely amazed that after all the horror on the ice storm, you are able to write an account of your experience with such clarity! You are an amazing lady Renie!
I sure understand you not wanting to leave your little critters. I would feel the same way. They need to be comforted when they are afraid.

I hope you have the hole in the ceiling fixed. I just ached for you when you told of holding a pillow up to it and crying. Gosh I wanted to just hug you and say. "it will be ok again."
I pray you never have to experience anything like this again. Once is too much!
God bless & keep you dear.
Spring is just around the corner.

GutsyWriter said...


I read your entire post feeling what you were going through. Is this the worst weather you've experienced? How nice of all these people to be of help and I am so relieved the Hickory tree behaved. Congratulations on your story being selected for publication. That was a wonderful prize at the end of such an ordeal. Glad you're safe and well.

audrey` said...

Happy Valentine's Day, Renie (((HUGS)))

Linda said...

I'm finally getting around to visiting. You have been on my mind even though I haven't been here.

You are a very brave and resourceful woman. Don't know if I could have handled your situation that long.

Congratulations on your new publication!!! Happy Valentine's Day dear friend!!!

audrey` said...

Our dearest Renie =) You're a very brave and strong lady. All thanks and glory be to our Lord for taking very good care of you (((HUGS)))

Merle said...

Dear Renie ~~ I am so sorry you had that bad experience and glad it is
over now and you are much safer.I am
glad that Eileen is OK also. You are lucky to have the wood stove to keep you warm. I am so glad your son and daughter came to help you. Take very good care, dear Renie, Love, Merle.

2 LMZ FARMS said...

That sure brought back memories of the ice storm that we had in 94. We (my ex and me) had a dairy farm where we milked 300 head a day. We was without power for nearly 20 days. We lost alot of milk during that time and also lost alot of good cows. But I will never forget the peaceful feeling of the candles, and lamps that we had during that time. So glad to hear that you and your friends were ok.

BClark said...

No patience needed, you could have written twice what you did and I would have read it all. We briefly lived in KY and while there had an ice storm. I know what you mean about the exploding tree limbs.
What a super back up group you have, hugs and prayers to all of them for taking care of you so well.
Congratulations on your article, the silver lining so to speak. With the generator you are even more prepared should there be another incident. OH, fyi they do make a hand cranked cell phone charger. In my weather station there is a plug in for a charger also. Best to you and so glad all is well.

Merle said...

Hello again Dear Reniie ~~ Thank you for your comments about my grandson and his girlfriend. I so enjoyed
their visit.. I am glad you liked the prayer "Always There" and the Senior Moment - I loved that one.
I am so glad that things have improved for you, and for me. Take care dear friend, Love, Merle.

Midlife Mom said...

Oh my, Renie! Your account so mirrors mine in 1998! I loved walking out back but the sound of the breaking branches just made me so sad. We are still recovering from it and had lots of trees to clean up. You are so brave to have stayed in your home throughout the whole ordeal! We didn't have a generator either but we do now!!! The thing is huge, I think you could drive a Volkswagon in it! lol! But it sure does the trick and keeps both our house and Mom and Dad's apartment warm and cozy. Glad Eileen is okay! That must have been so frightening for her!

Congratualtions on being published once again!!! Good work Renie! You are one talented lady!!! xoxo

Margaret Cloud said...

Renie, I hope this finds you still warm and safe.

Sammy said...

Wow, Renie! I cannot believe you went through all that! How terrifying! And to be without power for so long? You are one tough cookie! You really soldiered through!

I'm incredibly impressed that you fed the birds. Good for you! And good for you for not wanting to leave your animals. I can certainly understand.

Congratulations on your story publication! What great news! I didn't realize you lived in a refugee camp. My husband and his family lived in refugee camps for many months before they were sponsored by a host family here in the US. I'm sure your story is incredibly interesting and I look forward to reading it.

I hope things are getting back to normal for you and your neighbors.


Tina- said...

glad to read that you all fared o.k. through the storm. hugs to you.

TheWritersPorch said...

Renie.........YOU WON FIRST PLACE !
You get your chice of the three items. please send me a e-mail so we can find out which you want and I can get it in the mail! Shrinky can't chose until you have chosen.

Margaret Cloud said...

Thank you for coming by, I am glad to hear from you, I was wondering if you were safe.

The W.O.W. factor said...

Oh dear may not have written all the details, but they could be felt through your words. I am so glad you survived so well. I can do without a lot of things, but storms scare the dickens out of me at nighttime. I'm proud of you for staying wrapped up safely with your animals.If I were closer, I'd help you with some of the clean up you've ahead of you.
With Spring around the corner, one of its blessings is its ability to rejuvenate life. Some of the damage to nature will be covered in a different beauty...with time.
Many hugs~~

Rosy said...

Wow what a story, brought back memories to me at how it was for me in my first ice storm, I didn't have any propane at the time, just a wood stove to depend upon and that was a lifesaver back then.

It is amazing that no matter at how bad things are there are usually something beautiful about nature in its own little way..

I am glad you and your pets had rode out the ice storm all in tack and lets hope there won't be any more for the rest of this winter to come.

By the way we are ten degrees warmer than you in the evening hours tonight. Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comments.

Janice Thomson said...

Gosh this brought tears to my eyes Renie. You are indeed a brave person to weather out a storm like that. How incredibly wonderful that a generator was found for you so that at least you had some power.
Congratulations on your story.
You know you probably could write a novel about the storm too :)
I'm so glad you are safe and well.

Gramma Ann said...

Hi Renie,

I will have to keep an eye out for those Chicken Soup Books. I love books about Cats and Dogs.

Pia said...

hi renie. i'm so glad to be back blogging. just quick thing. i have a new web addy. i also have a giveaway - my first ever. hope to see you there. =D

Loretta said...

Renie....If the rumer is right and it looks like its heading for us again lets run away from

The sounds were the worse part to me. It seemed like each tree that fell made a louder sound than the one before.

Margaret Cloud said...

Hi Renie, sorry to confuse you, but Wayne is Charles, his name is Charles Wayne, I have some family photos on my post.

Femin Susan said...

This is amazing!! I am so glad to found your blog! Keep up the great posts…..

2L3Bs World said...

Dearest Renie,

How could anyone left you alone in such a horrible storm..? If I'm there, I'll gonna take care of you.. You're such a brave person Renie and I really admire your strength and courage to face living alone.

I hope somebody could help you fix the ceiling..

Please take care my dear sweet friend.. My prayers are with you.. God bless...

Jaina said...

That is so scary...I am so glad that you are okay. I can't imagine such a nightmare.

kkryno said...

Hello, Renie.

What an amazing adventure! You are certainly one formidable soul to go through all that with such aplomb and still retain you sense of humor.

I would be honored if you were to follow my blog.

Your site is wonderful. I found you through Lakeland Jo at "Life In Windmere."

I look forward to reading more of your experiences. Thank you for sharing them with all of us.

Femin Susan said...

very beautiful photos....i must admit that you are a kind soul..may god bless you with all your needs......

Sandy said...

What a harrowing time you had. I remember starting to read this awhile back and then got interrupted by the grankids and meant to get back! Wow, what you endured during this time is amazing and truly, I don't think I could have stood up, I would have cried my eyes out ...I could not have dealt with the cold and no power.

I am so glad all ended well even though it took so long for you to get electricity back. Wow, just shaking my head....

Margaret Cloud said...

I just had to reread this post and glad you are okay, thanks again for coming by.

BClark said...

The sun is shining here today, hope it is shining on you also.
Just wanted to stop by, say Hi and wish you well.

Jmkdreak said...

Yes you are brave!
you were roughing it and
did a good job!


Anonymous said...

Hey Renie been a while since I checked in but it has been a very hectic month. I am glad to see you up and out again. I know snow and ice are beautiful but not to live in. My daffodills are up and my fruit trees are in bloom. I love this time of year, Hey I love all times of year, Each one brings a new beauty.
Take care dear friend.

Leslie said...

Wow Renie...what a lot to go through. I'm so glad you're ok and you really are a trooper to stay in your home without the usual comforts. Ice looks so pretty on all of the trees but it sure does reak havoc. Congrats on getting your story published-yippee for you!

You are a true survivor and could make it through anything I think! Glad your family is able to come through and help you when you need it!


Patty said...

Any signs of spring there? We are still waiting in Maryland for the first flower to appear.

Mad Bush Farm Crew said...

Hi Renie,

Wow what a situation you were in!!! Sorry I haven't been over things at home here have been very full on. My Mum hasn't been all that well so I've been helping her out quite a bit lately. At leaset you had everything organised clever you!

Big hugs and love

audrey` said...

How are you, our dearest Renie? (((HUGS)))