posted on Feb, 15 2009 @ 01:03 PM
Recently here in Kentucky we experienced one of the worst ice storms in the state's history. Over 700,000 households were without electrical service
and over 200,000 of them were without water as well. We live in one of the more rural areas of the state, and it was hit a lot harder than most
I can't adequately describe the feeling of demoralization you experience when you're suddenly plunged back into the dark ages like that. Had we not
had emergency provisions and supplies on hand though, it could have been much worse.
The sheer weight of the ice caused numerous large trees to fall across power lines disrupting electrical service to our community, and for a brief
period even knocked out phone service. two-thirds of the people on the road have cisterns, so they were also without running water. We could'nt even
get out of our driveway until I chain-sawed up several trees. It looked more like a tornado had struck rather than an ice storm.
The entire road was littered with dead fall, and was inaccessible to traffic either trying to enter or leave. Thankfully, just about everyone around
here owns at least one chainsaw, and started clearing the roads to traffic almost immediately. This simple act helped reduce the power company's
repair time tremendously. The county road crews had little debris to clear away, which in turn allowed the power company crews to begin restoration of
services much sooner. Even so, priority was given to the major population centers, so It was about 10 days before our power was restored, and almost
two weeks before we once again had running water. In this post I intend to describe what we did in that time to keep ourselves warm, fed, hydrated,
and even entertained without the benefit of technology.
Being of a survivalist mindset, I already had all the essential on hand to make the transition from the 21st century back to pioneer days a much
smoother process. If we had waited to purchase all the needed items till disaster struck, we'd have been s**t out of luck. Half the stores were
closed due to power outages, and those that had backup generators had nothing but stripped bare shelves to offer. You could'nt find a bottle of
propane anywhere, and things like lanterns, flash lights, and batteries were non-existent. Kerosene heaters were in short supply, with some stores
even having waiting lists. Even if you were lucky enough to get one, kerosene was also in short supply as a result of hoarding by some individuals. I
met some people who drove over fifty miles to get it.
Generators were sold out within the first 48 hours at most stores. Needless to say, bread, milk, canned goods, and other easily prepared items were
also in short supply. Everything was being sold at a premium, and the local business were getting rich of the crisis. One even put a message on their
billboard that read: Let it snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow..
Water and Sanitation
The first thing we did was see to our water needs. Our cistern is powered by an electric pump, so it was necessary to draw water out via a weighted
bucket. We filled every water bottle we had and stored them in the kitchen area for easy access. We did the same for water to flush the toilet after
each use. For your edification, it takes approximately one gallon of water to adequately flush. LOL We really had no water shortage because I always
keep the cistern topped off, and a full tank of water on my truck at all times. I estimated we used roughly 4 gallons of water per person, per day
during this time period. That covered drinking water, flushing water, and bathing water. Not being able to take a shower was probably the worst thing
about the whole ordeal. I just can't get my day started off right without one.
I keep a full battery of kerosene lanterns on hand with accompanying fuel at all times just for such emergencies. We also had several hand-cranked
flashlights, emergency candles, and battery powered lanterns as well. No, we didn't forget the matches. We didn't have to go a single day without
some type of lighting thankfully. The dark is great when you want to sleep, but it bites when you have things you need to do that require sight.
For heat we used Kerosene heaters. We had two already in use when the storm hit supplemented by electric units on cold nights, and a third in the
storage shed. We normally heat by a wood stove with an electric blower, but was unable to do so this year do to a leg injury I sustained earlier in
the year. Believe me It's difficult to cut and split wood when your knee refuses to cooperate with you. My knee is much better now by the way, but
was too late in healing for me to cut wood and allow it sufficient time to properly season. Unseasoned wood by the way produces less BTUs, creates
more smoke and creosote, and is a bear to get lit.
To cut down on the amount of kerosene we used, we partitioned off the house into sections with plastic sheeting. This kept the heat in the areas we
chose to spend the majority of our time in. It worked very well. We did have to allow for adequate ventilation though to avoid carbon monoxide build
up. Luckily we keep a minimum of twenty gallons on hand to avoid multiple trips into Town, so we were okay for most of the 10 day period, but did have
to go out once for fuel. I lucked out and found one remote station in the area that still had kerosene, and replenished our supply for the duration. I
guess you could consider that hoarding, but the store is so remote no one but local hardly knows it exists.
As for food, our cache came in very hand. We already had easily prepared canned goods like hams, corned beef hash, chili, spaghetti, raviolis, Vienna
sausages, potted meat, peanut butter, crackers, etc. For drinks we had hot cocoa, tea, and canned fruit juices. Our hand-powered can opener was a
blessing, as was our cached propane stove and bottled fuel. We were still able to enjoy hot meals and drinks despite the lack of power. We kept a
couple of gallons of milk for our 6 year old in a Coleman cooler filled with ice on the porch where it was below freezing. We even had popcorn on a
few occasions. Yes, I cache popcorn too.
Our phone was out initially, but with a little finagling, I reestablish our connection. We also have cell phones, but service is poor in the best of
time due to hills and trees obstructing the line of sight to the towers. Our battery powered short wave radio was our link to the outside World. It
has AM, FM, NOAA, and several shortwave bands on it as well.
For entertainment, we read and I also hooked up our generator to power the TV and satellite dish for five hours a night. At the end of that time we
retired for the night to conserve the fuel. I cache gas for both the generator and my chainsaw as a matter of necessity. My chainsaw turned out to be
one of the most useful tools I had. I guess we weren't totally plunged into the Dark Ages after all, since we got to watch CSI and ICarly every
night. I didn't even have to miss an episode of Man Vs Wild thankfully. Bear is the Man! LOL
Nobody in our home takes any prescription medications on a regular basis, so we were good in that regard. The only OTC drug we used were ibuprofen to
relieve muscle aches. We have a fully stocked first aid kit on hand, and I also have previous training as an EMT and basic life support Instructor as
After we had attended to all our basic needs, we checked our relatives and neighbors to see if there was anything we could do to assist them. Most
were set up as we were, but thanked us for our offer. Those who weren't prepared, were given shelter by their families and friends. Nobody did
without that I'm aware of on our road. It helps that most of us are related by marriage or blood I guess.
Overall, I'd say we rode the storm out fairly well. We could have done a few things better to improve our situation I guess, but offhand I can't
really single anything out.
[edit on 16-2-2009 by LLoyd45]