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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Southern Winters

I just finished editing some photos I took last week, and it got me thinking about what a winter we've had this year. We've missed five days of school due to snow and ice. And yes, there was a run on milk and bread at the grocery stores at the first mention of snow. Some of you look at this photo and laugh. This winter, we had a light snow/wintry mix at the end of January, and after it melted, it froze over that night causing "black ice." So that week, in our county, the kids went to school two half days and missed one whole day. Remember, this was the same event that caused travelers to be stranded on the freeways in Atlanta, GA. Before you giggle and make fun, you must realize that snow and ice just aren't, well, SOUTHERN! We don't invest in snow tires and chains, in snow blowers and snow plows. It just isn't worth it for the few times it happens. Shoot, I don't even wear a coat unless it gets below 40 degrees during the day time. Well, bless my soul, two weeks later, coming up on Valentine's Day, the Weather Channel started predicting an ice event for our area. They used words like "crippling, catastrophic, and historic." This just doesn't happen around here, I'm telling ya! So I'm sure many folks didn't take it seriously. I didn't make a run to the store for milk and bread, but since I had been through an ice storm before, I did get a few groceries in case I wouldn't leave the house for a couple of days. I never imagined what this area would go through.

In 2004, we had an ice storm that left us without power for two days. It warmed up pretty quickly, and we were back to normal shortly afterward. In 2009, our little town had an EF 3 tornado pass through. We had some damage to our house and property and the neighborhood as a whole. We were without power for about 5 days, but at least it was warm. Fast forward to 2014. The weather man wasn't playing any games. We had freezing rain and sleet all day on Wednesday, the 12th. On Thursday, the temperature rose very little, and the precipitation ended by lunch time. Of course, school was closed on both days, and even on Friday as the stuff began to melt. Because of all the trees down, many of the roads were impassible. The worst part was the wide-spread power outages for hundreds of thousands of people! We were without electricity for 5 days and 4 nights, and we had no water for two days. We are STILL under a boil water advisory, and there are still many people without electricity (over 3000 in SC alone as of today)! I can't imagine what people went through who didn't have an alternate heat source. We have a wood-burning fireplace and a small generator  to power up a little electric space heater. That was good for charging our cell phones as well. No heat and no hot way of cooking food except on the grill. It got old real fast! Many people around here lost everything in their refrigerators and freezers. Take a look at what this wintry mess looked like.
 Here is Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel as he was on air IN Augusta, GA. We knew when he came to town, they weren't messin around!

THIS is why power was out for 5 days

The aftermath was something to behold!

Limbs, branches, and sometimes whole trees came down under the weight of the ice. Many landed on power lines.

As we stood here, we could hear branches snapping and falling. Sometimes it sounded like gun fire. It was scary to stand underneath.

These were our life savers: a portable generator, fire wood given to us by a friend, and then some from our own yard, the grill to cook on, candles, matches, flashlights, batteries, and a portable weather radio. 

We even caught melting snow that was dripping off the roof in a bucket so that we would have water to flush toilets with. We boiled water and did dishes by candle light. We camped out in the living room after putting sheets up at the entry ways to keep the heat in.  We were never so happy to see the lights come on!
So ya see.. I think that even though this stuff doesn't happen much, we handled it with a fair amount of grace. We survived the CSRA ice storm!
 You'll never guess what happened on Friday! We had a 4.1 magnitude earthquake, and a smaller aftershock on Sunday. I know...crazy!!!  And today? Well, it was sunny and a record 82 degrees! 

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