The Great Ice Storm of 2009

You may have heard or read about the ice storm that hit northern Arkansas – my geographic location – on Tuesday, January 27. Here’s a personal account – mine – of that storm.

We lost our power a little before noon on Tuesday. We were without electricity until late afternoon on Thursday. That meant no running water, no heat ,and no computers. Our heat source was our fireplace. We also used it for some limited cooking. we melted ice that the kids gathered outside for water to flush the toilets once or twice a day. Until the power came back Thursday, we had no real hot food for two days. only hot beverages and fire-roasted hot dogs and polish sausages.

We lost our land-line telephone service late Tuesday. We finally got that back Saturday evening around seven. No land line phones means no Internet access since I use a DSL connection to access the web. That’s why I have not been able to post or do any administrative stuff on my blogs. we were unable to use our cell phones until Thursday, so for nearly 48 hours we were cut off from the world except for an old, but very reliable battery-powered transistor radio.

Our house was, until this storm, surrounded by lots of mature oak trees. As a result of this storm, a lot of those oaks as well as some beautiful evergreens are now gone and we will probably not replace them. Why?

The tree in my living room
The tree in my living room

On Tuesday evening at 6:40 PM – a date and time my family will remember for a long time, the top half of a 40-year-old oak that stood six feet from my front door crashed onto the roof of our house. A broken branch about a foot thick attached to that tree gouged a four- foot long  hole in our roof and living room ceiling,

My thirteen-year-old son Ian, who is autistic, had been sitting in his favorite chair directly below that spot until my daughter suggested we move his chair. She had a premonition that the tree was going to fall. Thanks to her sixth sense, we are all safe and unharmed, although several of us have colds now.

Thanks to the generosity of our neighbors across the road, who gave us a large sheet of heavy duty plastic tarp, we were able on Thursday to seal off that hole by creating a tunnel around the branch in our living room that went from the ceiling to the floor. It was attached to the ceiling with thumbtacks and duct tape. The house was considerably warmer after that.

All five of us slept on cots and mattresses in the living room, huddling with each other and our three dogs for warmth, especially at night when temperatures dropped well below freezing. The highs on Wednesday and Tuesday were only in the 30s Fahrenheit and yesterday was only in the low 40s. Today was in the 50s and tomorrow will be even warmer. Most of the ice is gone now, but the area still looks like a war zone with all the debris lying around.

Wednesday and Thursday there was so much ice on our driveway, which is an uphill incline of about 100 yard to the road, that we were unable to get out for supplies. We finally got out late Thursday afternoon, only because my wife had left our Kia Sport age at the top of the hill on Tuesday when she came home from work during the storm. we had only a very small amount of money available because my wife’s pay check was delayed until Friday. That was when we were able to get to the store for some real food and other necessities.

So, we are slowly getting back to normal. On Thursday night we did three loads of dishes to get all of the dirty dishes and between Thursday and Friday we did eight loads of laundry. today we had a tree service come in an remove the tree from the roof, the one from the back deck, two that were leaning against the house, plus cut down several more that posed a threat to the house. They also properly patched the roof with plastic tarp until we can get a roofer to repair it.

So all in all, we’re doing quite well compared to a lot of people around the area, many who will have no power for two or three weeks more.In a few days. after I have had time to hunt down some news articles, I will be back with more on the Great Ice Storm of 2009.

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