First choice to dodge bad weather times

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ah, three weeks into 2011 and already we’ve narrowly dodged twopotentially very bad natural occurrences – tornadoes and an icestorm.

It was a great feeling of peace of mind last Sunday to see theenergy company trucks staged and ready for whatever nature had instore for us.

I have to say that, having lived through both an ice storm and ahurricane, given my choice between losing power due to either, Iwill pick an ice storm every time.

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Fortunately the storm skirted past us, leaving very little icein its wake.

I have experienced a full-blown ice storm once in my life andhave great respect for the damage that it can do.

We lived in Itta Bena, in the Mississippi Delta, when it was hitwith a major ice storm the night before Christmas Eve in 1998.Being a Hattiesburg girl, I had no clue what to expect. Our oldestdaughter was 6 months old; my husband, being the highly preparedhusband/father, had us well-stocked with firewood, food andgas.

My in-laws have extended family from the Midwest who made thepoor choice that year to come down to “warm” Mississippi for theholidays, so my husband was in charge of frying catfish for thewhole clan the night that it hit. He insisted that I stay at homewith the baby, as he had been through several ice storms andrealized just how dangerous a situation it can be.

As the freezing rains moved in, he called and told me to get thebaby out of her room and to set up camp in the den where we had afire already blazing in the fireplace. Shortly after that, I couldhear what sounded like gunfire all around the area. At the time Ididn’t realize that it was the trees snapping due to the weight ofthe ice and transformers exploding in the distance.

We lost power later into the evening as power lines strained andbroke.

The cold was so intense that we could have stayedsemi-comfortable in our den, but the rest of the home wasuninhabitable with frozen pipes and bitter cold.

The morning after the storm, we drove 10 miles to Greenwood,very slowly, edging around the hazards of fallen branches, thankfulfor a four-wheel drive truck. We spent Christmas with his parents,who had gas logs, a gas water heater and a gas stove. We were warmand comfortable throughout the entire power outage as the Delta waslocked in a deep freeze throughout the entire Christmasholiday.

No food spoiled; it was freezing cold outside, so we simplymoved all the perishable food from the refrigerator and freezerinto the enclosed garage. We had an instant walk-inrefrigerator.

Fast forward to 2005. We had moved into our home in Brookhavenless than a month before Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Ourneighborhood is fairly new, so there was no problem with treesfalling on any of our homes, but we did lose power. Our experiencefor the next couple of days – we only lost power for a blip of timecompared to those unfortunate ones who had trees on their homes andmassive power lines down around their neighborhoods – was notnearly as comfortable as during the 1998 ice storm.

It was hot. That is the main thing that stands out to my family.All the food in the refrigerator and freezer spoiled. Themosquitoes didn’t seem to realize that we were all going through atrying time, and should have given us a break.

My husband laughingly said that the difference between ancientman and modern man is in the struggles that they experienced.Ancient man had quest for fire, while for modern man has the questfor ice.

However, thanks to the quick actions of our resourceful men andwomen out working the front lines getting power restored, themajority of Lincoln County was without power for a relatively shorttime.

It definitely was easier to be without power during cold weatherthan during a Mississippi summer.

Hopefully we won’t have to relive the stresses and discomfortsof another hurricane of that magnitude.

Here’s to hoping that 2011 continues to be the year that wedodge all natural disasters.

Lifestyles Editor Rachel Brumfield can be reached at TheDAILY LEADER at 601-833-6961 ext 134, by e-mail or you can write to her at P.O. Box 551,Brookhaven MS 39602.