It seems in my lifetime I've seen news stations coin phrases for weather atrocites a million times. The only time I was ever a part of it was growing up in San Diego we had El Nino and La Nina but that was just wind and heat. While living in Arkansas we welcomed many people that lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina.
Now however I am experiencing the horrific results of a weather based tragedy. I live dead in the center of Ice Storm '09. I live about 25 miles from Jonesboro, Arkansas. My town is called Paragould and Tuesday night for the first time in history we experienced a city wide blackout. Now many towns in our area were just as affected but they are primarly smaller towns or towns with only partial outages. We unfortunately hold the title of the biggest city that is entirely without power. Even Wal-Mart was closed for three days!!
My story is much better than others. No one in my family has been killed by tree branches, but it has been horrible nonetheless. The storm started Monday with sleet and rain companied with freezing temperatures. Tuesday trees started freezing. We realized just how bad things were going to get when trees, branches, and cables started freezing, bending, and breaking under the weight of the ice. First our power went out, not horrible we had lots of blankets and flashlights. Then a tree fell and broke our fence. We went outside to smoke and saw our animals running free. So we packed up the puppies and the kids and went to my mom's who still had power at that point.
My mom lost power with the rest of the town around nine pm. Again not so bad until we tried to sleep and it sounded like a war zone outside from all the freezing and cracking tree branches. Not to mention the exploding transformers and telephone poles being pulled down. We got up Wednesday morning and saw that layers of ice were under a layer of snow under a layer of ice under pelting freezing rain. Driving to work that morning there was not a street or traffic light working in town. In fact there were three business with power: Kum N Go (gas station), Lowe's, and Teleflora (my employer).
I got to work and discovered power was the only thing we had. All of the tools it takes to do my job weren't available and I was the only person in my department that even showed up. I spent the day warm, however my husband and children spent the day like human popsicles. My company offered the building to employees as a refuge from the cold. There aren't beds, but we had power, heat, and warm showers. So that night we discovered the joys of trying to sleep on a hard floor with motion sensor lights. It was just as bad as freezing our asses off.
So Thursday we decide we are going to suck it up and stay at the house. It can't be that bad right? Wrong, it was 45 degrees and no amount of blankets could get us warm. Even with all four of us in the same bed. So I gave up, we had lots of hotel points saved up from before my husband got laid off (story to come in another blog) so we took off in search of a room. Every hotel within a hundred miles was booked so we packed our stuff and came to Memphis. We've been living out of hotels ever since but at least we're warm and have a place to sleep. Two things we could not accomplish at home. It's now Saturday and we still don't have power at home. Monday will bring a work day that I'll be required to attend, so I certainly hope someone in my family gets power back so we have a place to stay.
Pray for the people who couldn't just take off to a hotel and are having to brave the elements. My family included.