by Magdalen McCarthy
The forecast of a wintery mix was not unusual for our area here in Owensboro on the banks of the Ohio River in northwestern Kentucky.
This third-largest city in Kentucky has a long history, including soldiers of the Revolution holding up here during their travels in the winter months.
But in all of its history there has never been a storm such as the ice storm that started on January 26, 2009, creating a state of emergency never experienced in Kentucky or the surrounding states.
I was not too concerned with the forecast of a storm since our large retirement community apartment building was on the south side of the by-pass, close to the city and power supply.
We have had electrical outages a number of times. And even last September when the hurricane/cyclone broke off 200 electrical poles, our power was off only four hours.
However this time 2,000 poles were brought down by the ice and the company that supplies our local company was down.
Our power was off for five days. We are very blessed since there are still many without electricity. My brother, 20 miles out on a farm in the country, still is without electricity.
It is good that the ice is mostly melted now. But my brother told me today that the warmer temperatures may make it harder for the power crews to work with the ground thawing on top and still frozen below.
The water cannot drain properly and it is muddy now.
Pooling Efforts and Supplies
So after twelve hours without power, my frozen food was thawing, and I had no way to cook any of it although the salmon patties that I had frozen when they were left over some days earlier tasted good
without having to be heated. I called my sister living several miles out to the west of the city. She came over in a truck that was in their garage and not encased in ice like my car was.
We took my frozen packages over to her house and put them out on her back porch where she had put hers in the below-freezing temperatures.
Since my sister had a stove that had gas burners but with an electric oven, we were able to cook some of the frozen food on top of the stove and had regular meals.
She also had a gas water heater and had hot water, which we considered a luxury but no lights or heat, except for a gas fireplace in the living room, also a luxury to us now.
I slept on the living room floor, which was still a bit cold after the fireplace was turned off at night.
The next morning my sister stood outside Home Depot for over three hours in freezing temperatures, waiting to purchase a generator.
She brought it home and her husband and his brother, who lived close by, hooked it up. Then the furnace and the lights came on! What a blessing. Thank God!
Now we could see to wash dishes at night and not have to wait for the sun to come up the next day to do it.
Although the generator did not produce enough power to run the sewing machines to sew together the quilts we make to give to hospice, we spent a lot of time cutting out,
counting and stacking squares of fabric to sew into quilts when the power did come back on. And although cable TV was out, we were able to play a video of the movie "Patch Adams",
which I had not seen and which seemed very appropriate and inspiring under these circumstances.
Making the Best of Things
What I missed most of all in that household of five people was the quiet time I have living alone and the ability to join the broadcast prayer services.
And on the days when the sun was not able to pierce the clouds, it was good to remember that I needed to be a sun right where I was.
And I told my sister to take advantage of my being there and do whatever else she needed to do since I would take care of cooking and dishes, especially since those are her least favorite jobs.
Although I could have survived in my unheated apartment with plenty of food and water on hand, my frozen food could not.
And that was the occasion for me to go and be with my relatives and share this experience with them.
The Comfort of Communication
We listened intently to the radio coverage as all the stations were simulcasting to help people find shelter, tell them which restaurants were open, which gas stations could pump gas and where you could get a generator.
They would talk about the progress of the power line crews and all the setbacks they were having and how it could be up to three weeks before all power could be restored.
They even announced that Park Regency where I live was in need of help because there were a lot of elderly people and there was no heat, lights or elevators for the five floors.
At times the back up generator there would go out, which only provides a little light on the stairways and long hallways when the electricity goes off.
When that happens it is pitch dark, even during the day in the halls and stairways. One resident did fall, injuring herself.
That got the attention of the fire department who called Kinergy Co. to make this community a priority for restoring electricity.
So after five days, my sister brought me back in her truck to get more clothes and food to take back to her house. As I was there collecting supplies, the lights suddenly came on and my refrigerator started humming!
So I emptied the bags I had at the door ready to take and put the stuff away, grateful to be back home in time for the Saturday night Saint Germain service and grateful to
God for taking care of all of my needs so graciously. I prayed for everyone who was still without power and many necessities.
Working Together Makes All the Difference
Tonight, another Saturday and Saint Germain Service, I continue to pray for the many yet in need as I continue to thank God for his loving care.
It has been gratifying to see how people here have worked together, helping each other, showing concern and even courtesy while traveling on streets without traffic lights.
People are coming from all over the country to help restore power and clean up broken trees, which are everywhere.
A couple of days ago I was at my other sister's house on the east side of town, helping her with some things when a man came to her door. He said he was there to clear broken trees from her yard.
She asked him what he was charging, and he said nothing. But she could make a donation if she wanted to. He was there with four other men. They were from an Amish construction company in Indiana.
He said they had recently had a tornado and people came from all over to help them. They were just returning the favor.
My sister did give them some money and was so grateful to get that job done since she was wondering what she was going to do about the big pine tree that was completely uprooted by the weight of the ice
and had fallen on her neighbor’s red bud tree. The men even trimmed her neighbor's tree.
As we read in Scripture, "All things work together for good unto those who love God". All glory and praise be to God in all of His manifestations.
Feb. 7, 2009