Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Icy Memories. . .

As I watched the news reports of the ice storms in the Midwest, old memories came sharply into focus although I am not certain of the exact year. It was in the mid-1970s. I was living in Springfield, IL. I remember that it was Good Friday and the temperature hovered near freezing and it started to rain. And it continued to rain most of the night. I was living on South Park Street, a block north of Washington Park. The cracking sounds I was listening to on the telecasts these past few days were just like the constant sounds heard that night as branches laden with ice simply snapped off the trees. Sometime during the night, the power went out.

When I went outside in the morning, it was beautiful! Ice covered branches are a sight to behold, not unlike this picture I found that was taken in Springfield this week.

But it was also treacherous. Everything was a sheet of ice. Power lines were down everywhere. And even when the temperature warmed, there was still the lack of electricity with which to contend. As it happened, the weight of ice on the wires tore the neck where they connected to the back of the house right out from the wall. It would be about 8 days before I had my electricity restored.

At first, it was an adventure. Food was cooked in a Weber Grill; at least as long as there was unspoiled food to cook. The first night, heat came from a fire in the fireplace. I remember waking to a smoked filled room about 5:00 a.m., apparently from a burning log that had rolled forward on the hearth. Opening windows helped clear out the smoke but did nothing to keep in any warmth.

Three days after the storm, power was restored to the neighborhood; but it would be about 5 more days before I could get an electrician out to reconnect the lines to the house. Fortunately, the lady next store had her power restored and she let me run a very long insulated extension cord from her house to mine. That provided one electrical outlet to connect to extension cords to the most necessary items (refrigerator, radio, a couple of lights) until the repairs were done to the house.

Yes, these memories of 30 years ago came back as I watched TV the past few days. I truly feel for those affected. I know the helpless feeling of being without electricity. I remember that discovery of how little we can do without power, including not being able to turn on the TV or radio news to find out what is happening. It is a very lonely, lost feeling. Today, all we can do is hope that the lives of those who are affected can be restored to normal as quickly as possible.


Eric Valentine said...

Ice storms are bad news at the best of times, those down there look pretty bad. :(

Steph said...

Sad it's so destructive because the way winter crystalizes the world is goegeous.

Leon said...

Eric - and that's why I am so happy to be in southern California for the past 26 years. :-D

Leon said...

Steph - Thanks for stopping ny. I hope you return occasionally. :-)