Thursday, February 03, 2011

Weathering the storm...

It started on Sunday... the reports of impending doom... of the wrath of old man winter. We were going to get nailed. Ice this time, not snow. Ice scares me to death. I don't want 2 feet of snow, but if I could choose, I might be tempted to pick that much snow over ice. Initial reports were that we were going to get hit with the "first wave" late Monday evening.... Freezing rain and ice they said... but then it would be followed with the "second wave" which reports foretold of high Winds, more ice, and snow.

Please please please..... say it ain't so! I spent quite a bit of time, channel hopping from one newscast to another, and surfing around the internet's variety of weather sites. They were all comparable. Ugh. Adjectives like Catastrophic, Epic, Horrific were used. And the more I watched, the more anxious I was. And unfortunately, they were right on. I felt angry and frustrated... but it's not their fault. After all, it's their job to report the news, to inform.. so that we can prepare for the worst. And unlike a freak storm or a tornado, we did have time to prepare. Stores were jam packed all weekend and into Monday night.

And then it began.

Tuesday dawned and you could see that everything was frozen. The yard was glazed over, reminiscent of an ice rink rather than a yard. Trees were encased in ice. Russell had learned on Monday that he was officially considered "essential personnel" which means that he had to go in no matter what. We debated on what I would do. I did not want to stay home.... with the potential of losing power and being stranded. I was happy to see that the university was going to open at noon, so I suggested that I just ride in with him, and hang out. And that's what I did.

The drive in, was thankfully uneventful. Russell's truck handled the ice with ease. I conveniently left my office keys at home, and when Russell dropped me off, I was relieved that the cleaning crew was there to let me in. My boss called my cell phone, thinking I was still at home, and suggested that I just stay home. Laughingly, I told her I was already at work. It was not too much longer that the word came down that the University was now closed! Oh well... the day was quiet. There were a handful of people on my floor. Most of the afternoon was relatively quiet weather wise. I compared it to what it must be like to be in a hurricane. We were in the eye of the storm, with the back end headed our way. And as with hurricanes, the back end is the part that packs a wallop.

Since it was Tuesday, we were scheduled to make food pantry deliveries. We got that done, and hurried home. As we gingerly walked the truck to the house, I was un-nerved by the sound of the frozen trees crackling in the wind. And to think that the wind really hadn't ramped up yet made us very uneasy. Russell got the dogs in and out, and once fed we settled in. I had candles and flashlights ready to go. We had the news on.... watching ongoing coverage of the storm of the century. I read my friends posts on Facebook... Indianapolis and Chicago were getting hit really hard.... Ice in Indy and snow in Chicago and surrounding states.

It wasn't too much longer when our phone rang... my Mother in law reporting that she had lost power. This is problematic because she needs electricity for her oxygen. There were a few calls and frantic conversations about "what to do". I found a motel nearby that still had power, and Russell offered to take her there. She was reluctant to leave home, which I can understand. Thankfully a cousin brought over a generator, and hooked her up. She was good to go. In the meantime, I managed to report her outage to DP&L. And as an afterthought, I entered that number into my cell phone- just in case. Our lights flickered once or twice, making very very edgy.

It was almost a relief to go to bed. We still had power, and I tucked in and figured that sleep would be a welcome escape from the winds, that were now howling outside our window. Neither of us slept well that night. Russell was up and down, looking out windows to see if any of the falling ice or tree limbs had hit our house or cars.

As Wednesday dawned, we could see that thankfully, we lost only a couple of branches, and they didn't hit anything. The rain had stopped yet the wind was still ferocious. Things didn't seem as bad. Daylight made things seem less scary. And we still had power, thank God. The University had closed again, so Russell headed off to work with out me. I wasn't thrilled about this, but if we did lose power, I needed to be there to take care of things. What or how I have no clue... but I'm sure we would have figured that out. I fed the dogs and got settled in the den, watching all the news reports about damages and forecasts. I called my mother in law and was happy to learn she had power... it had come back on around 3AM. I called and checked on my sister and Mother... and then when I didn't hear from Russell, I called to check to see if he had made it OK. He had. It was now snowing... I didn't much care about that. We were only supposed to get an inch or so, and after everything else, that didn't seem so bad.

As the day progressed, the howling wind seemed to subside. By nightfall, we were only getting some flurries. The winds had calmed. It was time to begin digging out.

This morning, we woke to the sun. It's bitterly cold out, but the sun makes everything seem so much better. The University was open, and the day has been spent chatting and catching up... comparing notes, and just being relieved. There are many still without power. Neighborhood shelters are available to those in need. They are calling them "warming shelters". There's something about that term that has a sweetness about it.

This storm will be one that we all remember. Over 2500 miles of the United States were affected in one way or another. There are pictures online that are mind boggling. Some people experienced true horror, being stranded on highways that suddenly were shut down because the snow was too deep and fierce to drive in. Downtown Chicago was paralyzed, and people were trapped in their cars and on buses. That I can't even begin to imagine.

Here are some pictures I took around campus on Tuesday, during the lull, when I could still get out and about:

I'm counting my blessings.... in retrospect, now that it's passed, I realize how truly blessed we were.

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