Date: Sunday, May 04, 2003 7:40 AM
Ice Storm 2003
April 03, Thursday, 2003
News radio people were talking about freezing rain coming.
** Lesson: When the radio people talk about weather, go immediately to buy
groceries and gas up the vehicle. And the gas cans. Better than that is to
keep groceries at home, and couple gallons gas in the shed.
April 04, Friday, 2003
Freezing rain. Went out in the morning, and had to scrape the ice off my
truck. I have power.
Called my parents. Their power had gone out about 2 AM last night. Talked to
Mom. Dad had put his big flash light on the kitchen table, and pointed it
towards the ceiling for light. He also went to the cellar to wire the
generator into the furnace. Dad got the generator out, and had it running
for a moment or two. And then the motor jammed, and the pull cord won't
pull. He decided about 6 PM that it was cold enough to need a fire in the
fireplace, and about that moment the power came back on.
** Lesson: Run the generator every year, even if you're sure it works fine.
Don't let your handyman neighbor come over and spray ether in the spark plug
hole. Washes the oil off the cylinder wall.
Got a call from Jason, a bachelor friend of mine who doesn't drive. His
power is out. But the natural gas was OK. He was low on groceries, so we
planned to go for lunch and shopping.
** Lesson: Keep groceries in the house. Shop before you run out.
I called a bunch of people from church, and other friends. Several people
were without power, but they were all "doing OK". Radio news guys say about
50,000 people without power.
** Lesson: Call a few people and get the word out. But don't spend all day
on the telephone trying to be nice to people. You're wasting your time.
I made several telephone calls. The diner Jason and I usually go to was
without power, and I did manage to find a grocery store which had power. And
an eat in cafe.
** Lesson: In storms, call to see if the restaurant and stores are open.
I loaded bags of salt and gravel into the back of my truck, figured that
would be the major need. I took out my heating and AC tools. I drove to his
place to take him to the store. The trip took about twice as long as usual,
the traffic is running very slow. Many traffic lights were out. But
regardless of anything else, the State Thruway had power, and was still
collecting tolls. Hmm.
** Lesson: Travel takes twice as long in storms. And the State still wants
their highway tolls.
The walk in and out from the parking lot was slow, the parking lot was very
slippery. And we got freezing rained on. But it was nice to get him home
with groceries. We got food that would cook on a gas range, the microwave
won't work without power. He also bought four submarine sandwiches, which
was a great idea. "no cook" food.
We got back to Jason's house, and his dad suggested that he go to the
firehall, they have power there, and Jason could be safe and all. I went
home, expecting to find my power on. By this time, I was cold and tired from
braving the weather, and I was tired.
I headed home, very slowly. Got home, and as I was coming into the trailer
park, it sure did look darker than usual. I mean, totally dark. Arrived
home 7 PM to find that the power had gone out at 5:53.
** Lesson: Just because you have power NOW doesn't mean you will have power
LATER. Keep a written list when you make phonecalls to check on people.
Leave lots of space next to or between their names on the list for updates
Things change, and you will want to change your notes.
My neighbor Al was standing out by the street, watching everything. He had a
2D Eveready flash light which was growing very dim. I offered him a couple
batteries, but he didn't want them. Al caught me up to date on the
neighborhood news. There was a branch down behind our trailers, and we went
out to look. The branch was balanced on the power wires. I realize that Al
is the "Neighborhood Watchman" and is trying to stay up to date on who has
power, and so on.
** Lesson: Most neighborhoods have a Watchman who wants to know everyone's
business. This surprised me, I thought Ernie was our watchman, but he stayed
indoors and out of sight most of the time.
Across the street, Kenny and his wife are doing OK with a couple burners on
the stove. Kenny wishes he still had his kerosene heater. I pondered the
question, but the Spirit said it didn't matter if I offered to loan him one
of mine. I have two.
Ursula, elderly and frail, was very cold. She was worried about the burners
on the stove, but more worried about it being cold.
Ernie, on the other side of me, had a coleman lantern, and was doing fairly
Skip, the truck driver, wasn't home at the moment.
I went home to work the phone. Everyone seems to be OK. One gal I talked to,
Sharleen, started a sentence "if it gets too cold" and I expected she'd say
"you can come over here". But to my disappointement, she just reminded me
that we had a couple church meetings tomorrow, and I could go to the church
to warm up. Dan's house is covered in ice, and so he's out in the garage
assembling the generator they bought in March 1999. Needs something to do.
** Lesson: Not everyone out there welcomes you, and wants to invite you
over. Remember who invites you over, they are your friends. Remember who
calls YOU, because they are your friends.
More telephone calls. I reminded a lot of people "have generator will
travel" but no one was interested.
** Lesson: Don't waste a lot of time on the phone offering to give your
I lit my kerosene heater, and went to bed. I listned at the back door for a
few minutes. The darkness combined with the sound of branches cracking and
popping around the neighborhood. It was spooky.
** Lesson: No matter how comfortable you are, Mother Nature is still very
Saturday April 05, 2003
Woke up to the sound of branches popping. I looked out the door, and realzie
that a lot of the noise was pieces of ice falling off the trees. It was 60F
in my bedroom. Not bad, at all. I use my setback thermostat to run it down
to 64 at night, so I'm used to that. Got up, and pour the bath tub full of
warm water, and warm up that way. Breakfast. Still have milk and some ice
** Lesson: Ice cubes and refrigeration are wondeful. In the winter you can
put your milk out on the back step.
Radio says 67K people without power. Someone found a creative way to warm
the house. He hooked a garden hose to his laundry sink, and snaked the hose
around the floor of his house. Ran hot water thruogh the hose, and into the
bath tub. The hot water hose helped warm the house. Very clever. Must
I had breakfast, and decided to try to find something useful to do. At about
7:30 AM, the tree guys came down the street. Saw up branches fallen, and
feed them into the chipper behind the truck. One of my neighbors had a
branch fall through the back window of the son's car. I had no damage to my
trailer or vehicles.
I talked to Skip today. He had a battery radio, but no batteries. He also
has a gas range, but no pots or pans. I went home, and got him a pan out of
my camping kit, and some batteries for his radio.
I mentioned gasoline to Skip, and he told me which gas stations had power
today. The van was low on gas, so I threw two gascans in the back and took
them along. I found a couple gas stations without power, and one which had
power, and long lines of cars waiting to gas up. I got in line. At 1.73, I
was able to fill the two gascans, and then put some in the tank before the
pump shut me down at $50. But it sure is nice to have some gasoline. But
fifty bucks! Wow!
I made a few more calls, and found one friend of mine who had borrowed a
Honda generator from his brother, and the generator refused to start. Went
there, and it started with a shot of ether, and a change of gasoline. Can't
kill a Honda. It was very quiet, too. He had sent his son to go fill up the
gascan, and the Suburban. His son came back much later, there was a very
long line of cars waiting to buy gasoline.
** Lesson: Stock several cans of ether starting spray at home. You may need
I learn that the reason he was pursuing a generator is because the cellar
had flooded without a sump pump. About two inches water. They were able to
move some of the water by buckets, but that was a very slow process. Another
friend had a 12 volt sump pump which wasn't doing much good. The fire
department came down the street at that moment. They let us plug into their
generator for a few moments to run the sump. Finally, we did get the sump
wired into the generator, and that helped a lot. They also have a Bissel
carpet cleaner which we used to extract much of the water out of the cellar
carpet. The carpet is a total loss, no surprise.
While in the dark cellar, I blew the bulb on my 2AA minimag. Had to find my
way out of the cellar, and up to the truck to get another bulb. I've been
considering the Opalec conversion, to make my mini mag work on LED light
I also wired a plug into the furnace wiring, and they can now run the
furnace on the generator.
** Lesson: Even if the home owner has tools, go get your own tool box. Sure
is faster if you know what tools you have, and all the wirenuts and parts.
About this time, some friends came over. They had half a house with power,
and the furnace is on the dead side. I went to go switch off a couple
breakers, and put the furnace onto the power.
We did get a dinner invite with one of his sons, whose family has power.
That was much appreciated.
I came home and tried to see by the light of a fluorescent lantern that
takes 6 D cells. I learn that cheapie carbon batteries are near to useless,
the only last a couple hours. Resolved to buy only alkaline batteries in the
Sunday April 06, 2003
Decided to go to the city to attend church. One of the buildings had power.
Many traffic lights are without power. People are mostly courteous, and
treating them all as four way stops (as the law requires). Stopped at my
parents to use the computer and wash laundry. I made a couple phone calls,
and it turns out my lunch invite had been delayed. The Spirit said to visit
a couple friends. I did, and found them cold in the house, it was 40F in his
living room. He was wearing his winter coat in the living room.
Radio says that up to 145,000 people are without power. Three or four
counties have been declared "state of emergency, no unnecessary travel".
Went to my dinner invite, which was wonderful. And then went home to get my
generator. And no big surprise, my generator wouldn't start. I'd bought it
in early 1999, and had run it, and then put it in the box and had not run it
since then. I gave it a shot of ether, and it ran on that. So, several shots
of ether later, the carb diaphram shook loose, and started to deliver gas.
Went to Scott's and wired the generator into his furnace. About an hour's
run time, and the living room and rest of the house came up from 40F to 69F,
which was major
I got home about 11 PM to find my own house about 47. I lit the kerosene,
and it was about 52 in my bedroom by the time I went to bed. I tried to heat
the house by running the shower on full hot with the bathroom door open. it
was nice, but I set off the smoke detector, and had to take the battery out
for about an hour. It is a 2001 dated battery, I've got to change that some
Monday April 07, 2003
Woke to find it very cold in the trailer. I decided that if I could run the
generator for others, I could run it for myself, too. I got my box of
electrical tools, and wired the furnace. I put the generator out on the
porch, and chained it to the railing. An hour of generator allowed me to
check my email, and also to warm the house a bit.
I went to ask the neighbors if they would like me to wire into their
funaces, and warm them up. Al had a kerosene heater, and said his trailer
was warm from end to end. I notice though that he didn't at any point ask if
I was OK, and would I like to come in and get warm. Ursula said she didn't
want a wire across the street. Ernie said he had a generator coming from the
firehall, and he was OK. Skip had gone to go find a warm mall to visit.
The generator runs for about an hour and a half on a tank of gas. It was
long enough to warm the house, but not that it was running all night.
The friend with the 40F house where I was last night didn't have a telphone
on, something wrong with the line. I considered
whether to drive up, the Spirit said that it was personal choice, but not
needed. So, I drove up there to see if he was OK. I found a note on the
door, they had gone to a shelter, and weren't home. Well, that explains the
I pulled out the cell phone, and made a few more calls. Didn't find anyone
else who wanted use of a generator.
Went home, and powered up the furnace for my night sleep.
Tues April 08, 2003
This AM, decided to go to the bank, and a couple stores. I found the Dollar
Tree had sold out of D, and AA batteries. But they ahd plenty of 9 volt and
** Lesson: Keep batteries at home. Also, buy some flash lights that run on
C-cells, since they don't sell out as fast. Mag and Kel have lights that run
on C-cells, and American Science and Surplus used to have C-cell flash
lights ( www.sciplus.com ).
I had left the furnace plugged into the generator. I had a sense that I
oughta plug it back into the house power. I got home, and was about to pour
gas into the generator when Skip came home and cheered. He noticed before I
did that the power is back on. I plugged the furnace back into the power,
and got back on the computer.
This writing is public domian, and may be copied, distributed, etc.
Christopher A. Young
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