It is March 12. The past two days had highs of 45º F. This morning I looked outside and there is new snow everywhere. Our porch has a roof, but I still had to force open the door. Our driveway is plowed in so I cannot just hop into the car and go somewhere. Enough is enough!
These new inches of snow are just the tip of the iceberg. It has been like this all winter long. I don’t know what the all-time local record is, but we are really close to it if this new snowfall didn’t break it. I did buy a snowblower this year, but that was for insurance — at no time did I want to cash in on this “investment”!
At least we have power and internet. We’re retired so I can take my sweet time clearing this out. The worst experience of this winter season was in the days leading up to Christmas.
We had an ice storm. 3/4″ of ice. Doesn’t sound all that bad, does it? That ice storm took out power lines, felled trees, made our cell phones all but useless — our entire city was shut down. Worst of all: no internet.
Hey, what’s a little power outage with ten below temperatures and forty below wind chills, right? You know what is scary? Waking up with the power out and having absolutely no idea when it might come back on and having no way to find out. Can’t call, no TV, no internet.
We did have warning. We keep an eye on the weather and shop accordingly, stocking up on groceries and comfort foods when bad weather is coming so we can just wait it out and take our time clearing the snow. Such simple casual plans didn’t apply this time. We weren’t prepared.
After a couple hours we were able to get through to someone on the cell phone with internet access. The estimated time for restoration of power was ten days. TEN DAYS! Standing your ground is a lovely thought, but freezing to death in your own home is another thing. (Spoiler alert: we didn’t die or you wouldn’t be reading this.)
Where we screwed up is in not having — in advance — an escape route. Sure, we have food stores that can last us months, but in an event like this where we needed to get away, we didn’t know where to go. Where will they have power and accommodations? And that’s where friends came to our rescue once we finally got enough of a cell signal to call someone.
What they did for us was find a good hotel that had plenty of vacancies. We have allergies and people have pets, so we couldn’t impose on anyone. All we had to do was manage to get to the hotel an hour’s drive away and then ride out the time until power was restored.
Once we got settled at the Marriott, the biggest problem turned out to be my wife Cathy’s discomfort being away from home. She doesn’t like to go out much. The neighbors come over to visit once in a while to make sure she’s OK because they see me come and go but rarely her. Home is Cathy’s safe place, not a hotel room. So every day we had to drive an hour one way just to step into the house and make sure everything was fine, that we were not robbed, that the pipes didn’t burst, and so Cathy could have that moment in our home to restore her sense of well being.
Bottom line, we were without power for a full four days. It cost us about $650 USD for a place to stay and eating out. The restaurant at the Marriott Hotel had their head chef’s name proudly printed on the front of the menu. The food there was quite good.
Because power workers from across the country came to our region, the power was restored in record time. They volunteered to travel here and work outside throughout the holidays in absolutely horrible conditions (deadly cold, high winds, ice, snow), from the days leading into Christmas, on Christmas day, and as long as it took beyond that until the grid was fully up. It took two weeks. I’ll bet they got good pay to do that. Everywhere they went to eat as a group people offered to pay for their meals. To everyone in our community they are heroes.