Saturday December 21st 2013
The weather forecasters have been reporting an incoming ‘Texas low” for a few days now. Apparently it’s a huge system but its impact is largely unknown due to the fact that the temperature will be hovering around zero. Below zero will mean snow, above zero means rain but at zero the storm could produce freezing rain and ice. As the forecasters are often very dramatic in their presentation of the weather, I don’t stress about it but make a mental note of where the torches and batteries are and charge up my gadgets as we head out for dinner at a friends house.
We leave our friends after a lovely Christmas dinner and giggle as we slip and slide down the road. It is clear the feared ice storm has arrived, the roads are slick and the car is covered in a layer of ice but we scrape it off and slowly drive home.
Sunday December 22nd
The electricity goes out, it flashes on and off for a while before it goes out for good
Cracking and crashing sounds rouse me from sleep. I am immediately aware that something unusual is happening and my heart begins to thump in panic. The house is cold and quiet and the lack of street lights alerts me to the fact that the power is still out. I go to the window and the scene that greets me is shocking. The beautiful 80-foot Elm trees at the bottom of the garden are literally crumbling under the weight of the ice that covers them, huge branches crack and crash to the ground. Lightning flashes across the sky and at lower levels intense blue flashes indicate trees taking out power lines across the neighbourhood. I watch the trees sway precariously in the breeze and start to question whether buying a house so close to huge trees was wise. I can’t possibly sleep so I spend the next hour or so in a sleep deprived state wondering whether the trees will come crashing through the roof or not.
The utility companies must be trying to reconnect the power it comes on momentarily as another intense blue light flashes across the sky and we are plunged into darkness again. I finally drift off to sleep.
It’s finally light enough outside to begin to assess the impact of the storm. The back garden is littered with branches which continue to fall from the trees, the power is still out and everything is covered in ice. We light the log fire, find the battery radio and get our camping stove out to make tea.
From the reports on the radio it is clear a huge area and some 500,000 people across the province are without power. Hubbie decides to venture out in search of a generator. It takes over 30 minutes to chip the ice of his truck enough so that he can open the door. My car, that was parked up to the garage doors, has slid on the ice back down the driveway.
Dejected, Hubbie returns home, there was no chance of securing an alternative power source.
We join Hubbies family for an unconventional Christmas dinner by candlelight, beef cooked on a barbecue and mash and veg cooked on a gas hob. It was delicious which is amazing considering the circumstances that it was cooked in!
We return to a cold, dark home and decide to camp out in the family room to be near the fire. The temperature is going to be -12 overnight, we’re in for a chilly one!
Monday December 23rd
I get up with Hubbie to make him tea before he goes off to work, we stoke up the fire to try to put some heat into the frigid house. After he leaves I climb back into my makeshift bed on the sofa to await daylight.
Despite no electricity we still have plenty of hot water so I decide to have a hot shower to warm myself up. In hindsight it was not the best idea. Getting out of a hot shower into a freezing cold bathroom makes me colder than I was in the first place. What I wouldn’t do for an opportunity to wash my hair and a hairdryer…
My instinctive response in a crisis is to keep busy so the boys and I keep ourselves occupied by getting the wood in to keep the fire stocked and then we venture outside to start clearing the ice. With nothing but sub zero temperatures and snow in the forecast it’s important that we try to clear as much of the ice as possible. Several months of snow on top of ice will make for treacherous conditions every time we step foot outside the front door plus the fact that we have an obligation to keep the pavement/sidewalk outside the house clear means we have little option but to get to work. The entire house, drive, car is covered in an inch of ice, It’s hard backbreaking work first smashing the ice and then shoveling it up but it certainly warms us up! The neighbours are out too so we cheer ourselves up reflecting on the situation and exchanging stories. It turns out weather situations like this are, thankfully, extremely rare.
I’m in the garage getting the last of the wood in when I hear a joyous yell from inside, the power is back, 36 freezing cold dark hours are finally at an end!
We lose power intermittently over the next few days as the province struggles to get back to normal. As we venture out of the house the predominant feature is the fallen trees and branches, which litter the roads and pathways. Only the arrival of spring in 3-4 moths will tell us how much damage has been caused by something as simple and destructive as ice.