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Diary of an Ice Storm in Kansas

Story ID:3316
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Diary/Journal Entry
Location:Manhattan KS USA
Person:Ken and Nancy Kopp
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Diary of an Ice Storm in Kansas: December 8-14, 2007

Saturday December 8: We woke to an icy morning, roads and walks slick and difficult to travel, so I cancelled plans to attend a Christmas Brunch. We stayed home all day.

Sunday December 9: We woke to more ice on the roads. The local radio station read a list of cancelled church services, ours included. The Sunday papers arrived hours late, but at least they arrived. We were warm and cozy in our house, so I baked some cookies and Ken watched football. By evening the roads were better so we ventured out to a Christmas party for 26 Czech students attending Kansas State University. Carols sung in both English and Czech capped our evening of a chili dinner and fellowship with these young people far from home.

Monday December 10: Roads were fine today so I ventured out to get Christmas shopping finished for our Texas family. We were to head to Dallas for an early Christmas with them on Friday. A long day, but I got everything needed. Every radio report talked of more bad weather coming in tonight. Hopefully, nothing worse than the last few days.

Tuesday December 11: At 4 a.m. I woke to thunder and two large flashes of light, and the sudden silence of the furnace which had been running. I glanced at the bedside clock-radio. No power! I slept off and on the next 2 hours, then got up to look out the window. What an eerie sight it was. Ice covered absolutely everything. Trees, heavy with ice, bent to the ground. One huge limb was on our patio. Another blocked the driveway on Kenís side of the garage. Drive, walks and streets looked like skating ponds. We added layers of clothes and waddled around our now cold house looking like penguins. Ken found the storm radio with batteries in it, and I rounded up candles of all kinds. We had a cold breakfast and called the power company to report our outage. Might be hours they said before the power came back on. By dayís end, we transferred all the stuff in the fridge outside in the garage in coolers and on a card table. Ate a cold lunch and cold dinner, wishing for hot food and a cup of coffee. We have a gas hot water heater so did have a hot shower, but we got dressed in record time once out of our candlelit shower. We listened to the radio off and on and learned that our town was worst hit area in Kansas. 49% of the population (town is 50,000) was without power. The phone line went dead about noon. Called the kids on our cellphone. I wrapped gifts with the aid of candles and a flashlight, not easy but possible. Piled another comforter on our bed, wore more clothes to bed than I ever had and we snuggled down for the night. Surely the power would be back on Wednesday.

Wednesday December 12: Still no power and the desire for a cup of hot coffee was about to do me in. Ken went out to work on the driveway where a bit of snow had covered the ice. Trees blocking roads all over town. Power company crews sent in from surrounding states. Bless all those men who work under terrible conditions. Still no phone. At noon we ventured out to see if we could find hot food somewhere. The east side of town had more power than our side, and the main roads had been treated and were clear. We found a favorite place open and with hot food. Soup and a burger never tasted so good, but not nearly as good as the cup of coffee I savored, sip by sip. We went to the mall and walked around looking in stores just to keep warm. Back home for another cold dinner of foods that didnít necessarily go together but it was what we had. We went to bed early again as there is nothing to do in the dark, cold house with no power and still no phone. Snuggled in under the two comforters for the night.

Thursday December 13: Another day of cancellations. I had many things planned this week, but all were cancelled. No power, no food, no parties. Our phone line was back today but still no power and the word was it may be 7 to 10 days before we have it. Friends reported in when they had power back on. We decided to go to Texas on Friday as planned but hated to leave a powerless house, possibility of pipes freezing. By this morning meat in the freezer had thawed, so we tossed it all in the trash. Trash pick-up was to be today. Hard to throw food away but better than getting sick from spoilage.
I worked at the hospital gift shop all afternoon where there was light and heat. Then went home to the cold house again. Ken was at a meeting until 7:30 but we went out to dinner when he came home. Itís amazing how much you miss hot food. So we were ready for some. Back to bed with layers of clothes and blankets. At 10:30, the furnace kicked on. What a beautiful sound it was. We had power once again after 3 full days of the pioneer life.

Friday December 14: I packed at first light. Hadnít been able to do it in the dark the night before. We left in sunshine and weather report of three to five inches of snow for our area tonight. Time to get away before it hit. We had sunshine when we left and hoped some of the ice might melt and bring trees back to normal. We saw several that had lost all limbs with nothing but the trunk still standing. Devastation everywhere we drove in our community. Farther south all was normal but south of Wichita we ran into fog. Drove in fog all the way across Oklahoma, then hit rain at the Texas border. But no ice or snow!
How good it was to have the arms of our children and grandchildren around us with hugs and tender words.

The ice storm gave us a stressful week, but it brought neighbors and friends close together, one helping the other when possible. And it made us appreciate all the things electricity allows us to do, the blessing of hot food and of course, the joy of a cup of steaming hot coffee.