Recovering From a Winter Storm-in vivid detail

What a long weekend. We made it through with a few fatalities. Our beloved little betta fish, Bob, passed away – I think he froze in his water – and we lost some milk and eggs and cottage cheese. But (other than Bob) we’re mourning the loss of our ice cream treats that for some stupid reason I was possessed to purchase on Friday morning at Fareway.

Friday: The Storm’s acomin’
It all started Friday Morning. People kept telling me about this “blizzard” and “winter storm” we were supposed to have that I was completely ignorant of . Until we watched the news on Thursday night. So early Friday morning along with every elderly person within a 40 mile radius of Cedar Rapids, decided to get up and get going early to beat the crowds – going so far as to ask Brighton to skip his morning nap. I decided to go to Fareway so I could get a roast and some ground beef (that’s the only place we’ll buy meat). I should have known from the minute I walked in at 9:30 AM and I had to wait for a shopping cart. But me being completely frivolous about the whole thing decided to power on. I saw a cart with the kids car thing in front. “OK” I thought. That will work. So I asked the kid at the check out if he could remove the coats that were in the basket so I could use it. “Sure!” On we went. I stocked up on (stupid stupid stupid) fresh fruit and vegetables, then headed on to the dry goods and meat. The shopping although a bit tough to maneuver around all the crazy people took about 1/2 hour or so. I saw the line and decided to go walk around for a little longer (stupid stupid stupid.) So another 20 minutes had passed and I’d successfully spent another $20 and decided I’d better get in line. So we’re going on almost an hour at this madhouse already. I got in line and waited another 45 minutes!! OMG! We get home, all is well, and later that night find out that the Winter Garden Fair has been cancelled at Kirkwood (no surprise).

Saturday Morning: It’s Go Time:
Saturday Morning we’re enjoying this bit of time to ourselves and to catch up on some things. Somewhat oblivious to what we had in store. We had a nice HOT breakfast as a family before we set about our tasks. I finish my IaGS newsletter and get that sent out. Which took me the better part of the day. Andrew is getting laundry ready and picking up around the house. Finally noon hits and we start lunch (Bright and I) and Dad gets the roast going in the crock pot. He’s also started to bake a loaf of bread in the bread machine. Looks like we’re going to be all set for dinner. After lunch, I return to the newsletter and just finish sending it out. About 10 minutes later, we lose power. About 3:30. The rain had started already in the morning and it was starting to glaze up everything. According to my husband, the lights had been dimming all morning but I hadn’t noticed it. So he was more prepared than I. At this point, it was about 68 degrees in our house. We watched helplessly as the temperature fell approximately two degrees every hour and hoped against hope that our power would return. But alas it didn’t. We lit candles when it got dark, though they didn’t provide much light. I dressed Brighton in Jammie’s and a double layer of sweatshirts. (66 degrees) Eventually he wanted his snow boots on so I relented and put them on after Andrew pointed out that they would keep his feet warm up to -5 degrees. Andrew finished cooking the roast in a stock pot (62ish degrees) on the stove (we have gas thank God) and we ate in the dark, (58 degrees) our sirloin tip roast and cooked carrots. Mom had a glass of the wine dad used to cook the meat in. At about 7:00 PM (55 degrees)we gave up hope that our power was going to come back on and so we went to bed. Gathered the dogs and the cat and the kid and 4 afghan blankets and went to bed. Brighton was out like a light but mom and dad stayed up a little longer with the video camera (DON’T BE SICK!) recording our thoughts on this very cold night. We both woke up around 11:30 (46 degrees) totally disoriented. Thinking we had been sleeping for hours and it was 3 AM.

Sunday Morning: Preparing for Another Cold Day
It topped out at about 46 degrees in our house and we were all chilled to the bone. Andrew and I giving in to the fact that we might be out power for a few days, decided to move the “fireplace” into the kitchen to try to warm things up. (We have a fireplace in the sun room that takes little canisters that you light for a fire – it warms up pretty quick.) So we moved it in, lit it, Andrew hung a blanket in the doorway to keep the heat in the kitchen and living room and I started water for coffee and oatmeal on the stove for breakfast. It was starting to warm up in the kitchen. Bright was decked out in his sweats, sweatshirt, hooded sweatshirt, mittens, and what else, snow boots. Though he was getting a bit frustrated having his mittens on. He couldn’t grab things quite as easily. Anyway, it warmed up (there was at least a 5 or more degree difference between the kitchen and the hallway) and we made the decision that if the roads were decent I would work at Starbucks as scheduled and they would just hang out in the mall for my shift since it was warmer there than here and there was food there that wasn’t going to spoil… And Brighton could go play at the new play area and at Von Maur at the Thomas the Train setup. So Aunt (Nana) Sally and Uncle (Papa) Tom took us in, let me shower at their place, and filled our tummies before we left for the mall. After work, we came home, we gathered up our clothes, some perishable goods from the freezer and fridge and headed to Grammy and Grampy Oberbreckling’s where they had a nice big generator and electricity and best of all HEAT! This is one of Brighton’s favorite places to go (twice in one day, he was thrilled! Nana Sally and Papa Tom’s and Grammy and Grampies!) so he was tickled. Grammy made us supper, we watched tele for a while and then Brighton, Andrew and I headed off for bed. About 9:30 Brighton wailed for about 5 minutes until I let him up the FULL SIZE bed with us (he was supposed to sleep in the pack and play) and just then, Grammy told us that the lights were on. YIPPEE!!!!! So we packed up what we could and went home. I was worried about Boomer and Brighton wanted to sleep at home and wasn’t apparently going to sleep anywhere but here. By the time we got home, it was 55 whole degrees in here and it felt like a heatwave! We all went to bed, slept wonderfully (albeit a little hot since Dad left the heat on 69 – just in case) until 5:30 or so this morning. WE thought we only had 8 hours of power or it would go off at 8 so they could fix something but weren’t sure of the details. But thankfully, after my lovely husband called Alliant (I tried twice and got disconnected thanks to my stupid phone) and found out that if we have power, it’s staying on. They’re not turning it off anyway…And that’s where my story ends. After cleaning up a little – putting dishes away that were finally washed last night, doing another load and hand washing the others, I had 2 rounds of doppio espresso this morning and I’m sitting here next to my electric space heater staying plenty warm while Brighton is napping in his warm bed.

Monday: Reflecting and Staying Warm
I don’t know how our ancestors did it. We are so privileged in the 21st century. And even the 20th century. It’s amazing how our bodies and our minds react instinctively to something like this. Obviously, it was my first priority to protect Brighton and keep him warm. My mind was constantly churning how we were going to cook, what we were going to eat, how we were going to stay warm. Andrew was constantly thinking of ways to keep his family protected and warm, where and what was safe, and how to remedy this situation should it happen again. I still think we’re some of the lucky ones. There are still lots of people without power in Iowa. I just hope they can hold out in a shelter or if their at home, they can stay warm until the hard working (and well paid) men and women of the energy company can get them going again.

There are more photos in my 2007 Feb Album. Click HERE.


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