February 13, 2014
Shortly before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, as I was driving home from buying some storm supplies, the National Weather Service came on my radio with the annoying warning sound and with a scary announcement. It said an ice storm warning was being announced for our area which is LaGrange, which is 65 miles southwest of the Atlanta International Airport. Descriptions such as “catastrophic, epic proportions, how much worse an ice storm is versus a snow storm, high winds with trees falling and loss of electricity for upwards of seven days” were mentioned in that brief announcement.
This announcement got more of my attention than normal since my wife and I went through this while we were staying at our condo at Perdido Key, Fla., which is between Pensacola Beach and Orange Beach, Ala., two weeks ago to the day. We had been warned earlier in the day so we went out to have a big meal and buy some supplies. Then early that Tuesday evening they closed the bridges on either end of our island and they stayed closed until noon on Thursday. Fortunately our electricity didn’t go off as it did for over 60,000 people staying on the Panhandle during those two days. From our rear balcony we saw that everything was frozen and not a soul moving; beautiful but eerie. For those two days we didn’t leave our 10th floor condo but because we were prepared with food, candles, matches, flash lights with new batteries and a battery operated radio it turned out to be relaxing even if the electricity had gone out.
With the increased likelihood of losing electricity this time we made a number of additional preparations which included making sure both cars were filled with gas and had a charger for our cellphones, charging those cellphones while we still had electricity and disconnecting all hoses at our faucets. It may seem odd but we filled a bath tub because when the electricity goes out so does the supply of water if you use a well unless you have a generator and even if your water is supplied by the city if they don’t have electricity you’ll get no water. I also dug out our old kerosene heater which I hadn’t used for 10+ years and found an almost full can of kerosene. Once I realized where the wick was I fired it off but did so outside which was fortunate since it smoked quite badly for about 7/8 minutes. We were about out of firewood but got a new load Saturday so that was checked off the preparation list.
We also moved the grill closer to the rear door to avoid taking our life in our hands to walk on the ice on the deck to where it had been and made sure we had a full tank of propane. We have been keeping the house cool to save on electricity but turned it up to get out the chill while we still had electricity. I even took duct tape and sealed a couple of spaces around a window and two doors where a fair amount of cold air was coming in. Finally we staged the fireplace fire and put candles, flashlights, kerosene heater, and a radio in a small area relative to the rest of the house in the event the electricity went off so we could adequately heat just a small area. As I type this my only regrets are that we didn’t buy a Coleman type burner to heat food and buy a lantern. I deliberately decided not to buy a generator and chain saw which some would deem as necessary in their preparations.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you did/do anything additional that would especially benefit those of us living in the deep south who are not at all use to ice storms.
If indeed we get any ice on the roads please don’t drive. If you can’t via reflex action know what you are to instantaneously do with a car that starts to skid you are endangering others. If you are a very experienced driver on ice don’t over estimate your skill and remember at times as you are sliding on ice there is nothing you can do. Finally you have the aforementioned inexperienced drivers some of whom nonetheless will drive so you will become a target.
Let’s hope we don’t get snow or ice but if given a choice I’d take snow. If it is ice the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared” is the best advice anyone can give you.
Stay safe and as warm as you can,