Friday, January 22, 2016

Big Storms: A Historical Perspective

Buckets and pots and buckets and pots. And all will be covered to keep
the pets for helping themselves to a drink!
The storm has not reached us yet, but we're pretty much ready for it. We might be over-ready, but I prefer that to being caught unaware.

Larry is filling every big pot and bucket we own with water. I guess we have a lot of containers! This isn't all of them; he's still at it and there should be about 15 buckets and pots full when he's done, or about 25-30 gallons. Generally it takes about 10 gallons of water a day to do the basics--dishes, cooking, sponge baths and flushing.  He also has buckets full in the cellar to use for the chickens and the pets.

The tractor is ready, the generator is ready (it's a small one, and can't run the pump, worse luck), and we're good on kerosene for light. As for food, well, we can always manage just on what we always have stocked up; it's just part of country living to haven plenty of food stored away. Our refrigerator, cooking, and heating all run on natural gas so unless the gas should freeze off--it happens--no worries there. The wash is caught up and all the dishes are washed.
My favorite bucket, found at an estate sale, says
"THE MRS.  Keep your cotton pickin' fingers off!"

All that is left is to wait. The snow has started in areas all around us but we're in this odd little pocket in the center. But the birds seem to know it's coming; yesterday evening as we drove down the driveway there was an explosion of birds leaving the feeders. They know.

This isn't the only big storm ever, of course. There is the story of the great blizzard of 1888, when hundreds of cattle and over 200 people died. In that storm a schoolteacher tried to lead a group of children to safety in a house but they missed the house in the blinding snow and fell into a ravine. Somehow they climbed out and found a haystack where they sheltered safely. A miracle, indeed.

That year saw one of the worst East Coast blizzards, when 30 to 50 inches of snow fell in the Northeast, burying buildings and streets. Over 400 people lost their lives in the that terrible storm.

In the Great Blizzard of 1887 in the Great Plains region (the site of so many historic storms) even future president Theodore Roosevelt was affected. After the death of his first wife he went west and established a thriving cattle ranch in Missouri. But in that blizzard, he lost almost his entire herd and a goodly portion of his inheritance.

As recently as 1993 we experienced the "Storm of the Century," a terrible storm that swept across the country causing over 600 deaths and millions in damage. I remember that storm well. We were over a week without electricity here, and our commute to work, usually an hour each way, took almost 4 hours as we had to dig our way through in places.

There was also the ice storm of 1993, when everything was coated with up to an inch of ice. Trees crashed down, electrical wire snapped and whole towns were without power. Roads were impassable. You can read a bit about our experience with that storm here.

And then in 2010 we had "Snowmageddon" as President Barack Obama named it. According to the website LiveScience, "Two blizzards in February 2010 broke snowfall records in the mid-Atlantic region, such as a whopping 32.4 inches (82.3 cm) of snow at Washington's Dulles International Airport. After the second snowstorm in February, 68.1 percent of the country was blanketed by snow. The term "snowmadgeddon," around since 2009, stuck when President Barack Obama used it at the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting during the storm." (You can read about other historic storms at Live Science, but the 2010 one is forever etched in my brain with pain and grief, as it was just prior to this storm that we lost our son Jon in a traffic accident, and his burial took place in the midst of that blizzard.)

And now, Larry says, the first flakes have fallen. I think I will go and take another shower, just, you know, in case it might be a while before I have the opportunity again.

I hope that wherever you are you are safe, prepared and comfortable, and that you will not have to venture out until the storm passes over. And for those of you outside this storm's scope, have fun watching the news and seeing all the shenanigans that generally accompany a big snow.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Steve Ferendo said...

Stay warm and safe. This, too, shall pass.

Gretel said...

I'm a bit late to this, but belatedly reading this, I am reminded of a blizzard scene from one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, when I think Pa tied himself to a rope, and secured himself to the cabin to go out into a blizzard, possibly to get some more firewood? I wonder if that was referencing one of the historic storms you mention?
You were very well prepared, and better to be over prepped than under!

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