Date: Sunday, May 04, 2003 7:40 AM
Ice Storm 2003
April 03, Thursday, 2003
News radio people were talking about freezing rain coming.
I decided I wasn't going to go any where, the weather was
actually pretty good until dark. I could hear the rain
** 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 and mixed rain at night. Went out in the
morning, it was slippery on the porch and steps. I threw down
some salt, that helped a lot. Took a long time to scrape
the ice off my truck. I have power.
Called my parents. Their power had gone out about 2 AM last
night. Which really surprises me. I'm out in the country, they
are in a suburb. They seldom have power cuts. Dad had put his
big lantern 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.
Got a call from Jason, a bachelor friend of mine. Jason is blind,
so he wasn't sure if the lights were out. I suggested he try the
microwave, and the fan over the stove. Both of them dead.
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
all day on the telephone trying to be nice to people. You're
wasting your time.
I thought to call the restaurant. The diner Jason and I
usually go to was without power. Saved a trip. since the
phone is working, much easier to call and ask if they have
power. I did manage to find a grocery store which had power.
And an eat in cafe.
** Lesson: During power cuts, telephone to see if the restaurant
or 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 Jason's. The trip took about twice as long
as usual, I drive very slow in bad weather. 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 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
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
warm. I headed for home. By this time, I was cold and tired from
braving the weather.
I headed home, very slowly. 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. I
have an old Westclox mechanical dial face plug in clock. I keep
this old retro clock so that I know when the power goes out. The
hands stop. This may be old technology, but it's very useful.
** Lesson: Just because you have power NOW doesn't mean you will
have power LATER. And others may have power now, but not 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
updates Things change, and you will want to revise your notes.
My neighbor Al was standing out by the street, watching
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 told
the neighborhood news. There was a branch down behind our
and we went out to look. The branch was balanced on the power
I realize that Al is the "Neighborhood Watchman". He is the man
knows 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
Across the street, I visited Ursula, who is elderly. Kenny (who
across the street from me) was also visiting. He and his wife are
doing OK with a couple burners on the stove. Kenny wishes he
had his kerosene heater. I considered the problem. The Spirit
it didn't matter if I offered to loan him one of mine. I didn't.
Ursula, elderly and frail, was very cold. I visited briefly.
was wrapped in a blanket, white and shivering. She was worried
carbon monoxide from the burners on the stove, but more worried
about it being cold. I offered to run her furnace off my
but she didn't want that. Seemed to her to be too dangerous. She
aparently doesn't know much about electric.
Ernie, on the other side of me, had a coleman lantern, and was
fairly well. Coleman fuel is supposed to pour out monoxide,
as bad as charcoal. He lived to tell about it, though. He said he
had a generator coming from the fire hall. He wasn't going to
it into the furnace, he was going to run an electric space
with the generator. Wow, that's guaranteed to drink gasoline for
the generator. 1500 watt space heater instead of a 700 watt
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 started a sentence "if it gets too cold" and I expected
her to say "you can come over here". But to my disappointement,
she just reminded me that we had a couple church meetings
I could go to the church to warm up. Dan's house is covered in
so he's out in the garage assembling the generator they bought in
1999. Needs something to do.
** Lesson: Not everyone out there welcomes you, and wants to
you over. Remember who invites you over, they are your friends.
Remember who calls YOU, because they are really your friends.
More telephone calls. I reminded a lot of people "have generator
travel" but no one was interested.
** Lesson: Don't waste a lot of time on the phone offering to
your services away.
I lit my kerosene heater, and went to bed. I listned at the back
for a few minutes. The darkness combined with the sound of
cracking and popping around the neighborhood. It was spooky.
** Lesson: No matter how comfortable you are, Mother Nature is
Saturday April 05, 2003
Woke up to the sound of branches popping. I looked out the door,
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
thermostat to run it down to 64 at night, so I'm used to that.
and pour the bath tub full of warm water, and warm up that way.
heater is a good thing to have. Natural gas is very dependable
here. Breakfast. Still have milk and some ice cubes.
** Lesson: Ice cubes and refrigeration are wondeful. In the
can put your milk out on the back step.
Radio says 67K people without power. Someone found a creative way
warm the house. He hooked a garden hose to his laundry sink, and
the hose indoors, through the rooms of his house. Ran hot water
through the hose, and into a drain. The hot water hose helped
house. Very clever. Must remember that.
I had breakfast, and decided to try to find something useful to
At about 7:30 AM, the tree guys came down the street. Saw up
and feed them into the chipper behind the truck. One of my
had a branch fall through the back window of the son's car. I had
damage to my trailer or vehicles.
I talked to Skip today. He had a battery radio, but no batteries.
also has a gas range, but no pots or pans. I went home, and got
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
power today. The van was low on gas, so I threw two gascans in
and took them along. I found a gas station which had power, and
lines of cars waiting to gas up. I got in line. At 1.73, I was
fill the two gascans, and then put some in the tank before the
me down at $50. But it sure is nice to have some gasoline. But
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
on the air cleaner. 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 it.
I learn that the reason he needed a generator is because the
cellar had about two inches water. Rain coming in, and the sump
pump won't work without electric. They were able to move some of
the water by buckets, but that the water was coming in faster
they could carry it out. Another friend let them use a 12 volt
pump which wasn't doing much good. The fire department came down
the street at that moment. They let us plug into their generator
to run the sump. Finally, we did get cellar pumped. They also
Bissel carpet cleaner which we used to extract water out of the
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
bulb. I've been considering the Opalec conversion, to make my
work on LED light bulbs.
[It was daytime, so I had enough light to get out. I did try the
which at $28 is much the same as Nite Ize that is now at Walmart
$4.97. It is better than filament bulbs. Less light, but more
Since then, I got the Terra-Lux conversion which is far superior
either the filament bulbs or the LED conversion. But more pricey
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. Their house has power on
of the incoming. The furnace is on the dead side. I went to go
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 using a fluorescent lantern that takes 6 D
I learn that recharged carbon batteries are near to useless, they
last a couple hours. Resolved to buy only alkaline batteries.
Sunday April 06, 2003
Decided to go to the city to attend church. One of the chapels
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
I made a couple phone calls, and it turns out my lunch invite had
delayed. The Spirit said to visit a couple friends. I did, and
them cold in the house, it was 40F in his living room. He was
his winter coat indoors.
Radio says that up to 145,000 people are without power. Three or
counties have been declared "state of emergency, no unnecessary
Went to my dinner invite, which was wonderful. And then went home
to get my generator. And no big surprise, my generator wouldn't
I'd bought it in early 1999, and had run it, and then put it in
box and had not run it since then. I gave it a shot of ether, on
air filter, and it ran for one second. So, several shots of ether
later, the carb diaphram started to deliver gas.
Went to Scott's and wired the generator into his furnace. About
hour's run time, and the living room and rest of the house came
from 40F to 69F, which was major improvement.
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
I didn't want to run my generator at 11 PM and wake the
I tried to heat the house by running the shower on full hot with
bathroom door open. it was nice, but I set off the smoke
had to take the battery out for about an hour. It is a 2001 dated
battery, I've got to change that some day.
Monday April 07, 2003
Woke to find it very cold in the trailer. I decided that if I
run the generator for others, I could run it for myself, too. I
my box of electrical tools, and wired the furnace. I put the
out on the porch, and chained it to the railing. An hour of
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
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
any point ask if I was OK, and would I like to come in and get
Ursula said she didn't want a wire across the street. Ernie said
had a generator 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
The friend with the 40F house where I was last night didn't have
telphone. I considered whether to drive up, the Spirit said that
was personal choice, but not needed. So, I drove up there to see
he was OK. I found a note on the door, they had gone to a
and weren't home. Well, that explains the promptings.
I pulled out the cell phone, and made a few more calls. Didn't
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 had
plenty of 9 volt and C cells.
** Lesson: Keep batteries at home. Also, buy some flash lights
run on C-cells, since they don't sell out as fast. Mag and Kel
lights that run on C-cells, and American Science and Surplus used
to have C-cell flash lights ( www.sciplus.com ).
I had a sense that I oughta plug the furnace back into the house
before I left to go to the store. I got home, and was about to
gas into the generator when Skip came home and cheered. The power
back on. I plugged the furnace back into the power, and got back
This writing is public domian, and may be copied, distributed,
Christopher A. Young
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