Posts Tagged ‘ice storm’

What a difference a year makes.

Last year on this date, northeast Indiana was impacted by a major ice and wind storm that did considerable damage to thousands of trees and power lines, resulting in a widespread power outage.  The ice storm was immediately followed by a cold snap of windy, sub-zero (F) temperatures for several days.

For the most part, the region was without power from 2-7 days.  We were one of the last areas to come back on day seven.

Crews of lineman came in from all over the Midwest, South and Eastern seaboard.  It took a few days for them to roll in, but what a sight it was when they arrived!  Hundreds of heavy trucks from all over, rolling in like the calvary.

Regardless of those who said they only did it for the money, they chose to leave their families during Christmas week, to travel 100’s of miles by truck, so they could do dangerous work for 16 hour shifts in sub-zero weather.  This doesn’t excuse me for not being more prepared, but I’m extremely grateful for the sacrifice they made.

Though I’ve had an eye and mind towards preparedness for several years, it was often nothing more than an unproven theory.  I’ve experienced short term outages before, but they were always in temperate weather.  This was the first extended ‘cold-weather’ test of my emergency preparedness plan.  After day 3, the deficiency in heating proved to be too much for my wife (with my psyche not far behind).  The plan failed.  We ended up spending the nights at my step-daughter’s house.

An overview of our needs and how the implemented plan worked out (failed)…

Water- We were on city water, so we had available water pressure (and potable water- at least for a limited time).  Once the situation was assessed, I immediately filled containers, pans, etc. with ‘good’ water, in anticipation of water main breaks and/or failed pumping stations.

Shelter- Fortunately, our house was not damaged by the storm.  We lost some large branches near the house, but none hit it directly.  This was probably due to the extensive tree trimming and removal we had done just a few months earlier.  If we had not done that, this paragraph could have been a lot longer.

Heat-The plan to keep us from freezing was rather simple.

Heat retention- To retain the heat in the family room, I hung heavy canvas painters’ tarps across the opening between the family room and rest of the house.  this proved to work rather well.  During day 2 and 3, the temperature difference between the family room and kitchen was around 20 degrees F.

Heat source- We had a full cord of seasoned wood and a wood burning fireplace in our family room.  I figured we were good to go.  WRONG!  I knew it was very inefficient, but wouldn’t realize the full extent until the theory was put to the test.  With no power for the Heatilator ,and the lack of a screen behind the glass doors, so we could safely leave the doors open, we didn’t get nearly as much heat as I was expecting.

As alternate sources of heat (for very short term, attended use), we used the burners on the stove to heat the kitchen and cook (thank goodness for gas heat!) and a gas hot water heater so we could take hot showers before going to work.

Freezer/refrigerator food preservation-  We had a stocked deep-freeze, in addition to our kitchen fridge/freezer.  I keep the temp in the deep freeze between 0 and -5.  During the duration, of the outage, it maintained a temp below freezing.   The food from the fridge/kitchen freezer was transfered into coolers and placed outside.  I filled some plastic bottles with water and set them outside to freeze- these would later serve as ice blocks when the temp started to climb and we still didn’t have power.

I’ve learned a lot from that experience and am still adjusting my plan for when it happens again.  We’ve since moved to a different house, so a number of the factors have changed significantly.  These will force a rework of the entire plan.  The well pump, well saver, sump pump, electric water heater, electric ignition gas fire place, etc. all need AC to provide any services.

I’ve recently been giving this a lot of consideration.  A couple of weeks ago we had a storm roll through the region that could have repeated last year’s situation.  Fortunately, we only got the rain and not the cold, but it’s still food for thought.


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