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2009-01 Kentucky Ice Storm

The lights went out at my house at 3:17 am CST, Tuesday, 2009-01-27. The beeping of the "uninterruptible" power supplies for computers woke me shortly thereafter. My wife and I had an 80,000 BTU portable propane heater with 1 full (17 lb / 7.71 kg) tank of propane, 1 partial tank, a single-burner Coleman propane camp stove with 1 full 16.4 oz. (465 g) propane bottle and 4 full 14.1 oz. (400 g) bottles. These were set up in a room designed for my wife's houseplants -- 12 ft wide, 24 ft long, 10 ft high, with windows on 3 sides, a concrete slab floor, and a room overhead. We had a hand-cranked portable AM/FM/Weather radio, an oil lamp and several candles. We bundled up in layers of clothing as we would if working outside in the 40's. I ventured out to take pictures around 9 am, leaving the digital camera's LCD display turned off to conserve the NiMH batteries. Cold rain was still falling and freezing. Temperature outside was in the low 30's Fahrenheit and 55 F in the plant room. Running the propane heater mostly on pilot light; unsure of when we might be able to get more, even though the mail carrier, Ollie, arrived in his Jeep at his usual time. Kept a large kettle of water on top of the heater.

Wednesday, 2009-01-28. Outside 25 F. Inside 52 F. Photos taken around 9 am CST. Packed snow into coolers to hold things from the refrigerator. Packed several 5 gallon buckets and many zip-lock baggies with ice and snow to fill freezer. Discovered a pine tree had narrowly missed Justin's house as it fell. 1st small bottle of propane for cooking and coffee ran out Wednesday night, started a 14.1 oz. bottle. Wednesday night, my neighbor David Lindsey and his father William suddenly showed up with a full 17 lb. tank of propane and a thermos of coffee. It was good to have company for a little while.

Thursday, 2009-01-29. 7:30 am CST, outside 23 F, inside 49 F. Noon, outside 25 F, inside 53 F. David and William brought a kerosene heater and 5 gallons of kerosene. We ran it in the main part of the house, which had chilled to probably the 40's, but I had to take it out sometime in the middle of the night as my wife and I couldn't stand the smell -- headaches and sinus troubles. 5 pm CST, outside 27 F, inside 53 F.

Friday, 2009-01-30. 7:50 am CST, outside 26 F, inside 49 F. 9 am CST, outside 30 F, inside 65 F. 1 pm, outside 33 F, inside 55 F. Started 2nd 14.1 oz. bottle of propane for coffee and cooking. My son came in from Bowling Green and took us to get a hot shower. Roads clear, trees shattered in almost every lawn, woods sparkling and bowed; it looked like some kind of alien, crystal landscape from a sci-fi novel. Had a catfish dinner at a local restaurant -- full of people escaping dark homes. Refilled propane tanks. 5:15 pm CST, outside 30 F, inside 52 F. After the hot shower, meal and restocking, I drove back out for a short while to take photos around 5:45 pm CST. A little strange to be able to stop on all but the main road to take a photo without hindering any traffic.

Saturday, 2009-01-31. 7:20 am CST, outside 24 F, inside 50 F. Last package of bacon removed from the freezer; only fruits and vegetables at the bottom of the freezer remain hard frozen. Cleared Justin's drive -- water and chunks of ice raining down on our heads. Shirley made a run to Glasgow to get a power inverter and supplies. 3:45 pm CST, outside 42 F, inside 58 F. Grilled a couple of t-bone steaks inside. Were meant for Super Bowl Sunday, but they were almost completely thawed. Used the power inverter and 2 car batteries to have a light (40W) and watch television (270W + 34W) for a little while. Had to use a 3rd battery to then start the car and recharge. Later, Justin called to say he found and bought a 5000W generator and would bring it in Sunday.

Sunday, 2009-02-01. 9:15 am CST, outside 47 F, inside 58 F. Justin brought the generator. I ran a 10/2 w/grnd type UF cable from the garage (separate building, too well ventilated) to the house, through a window and to the freezer. Started generator and freezer about 12:30 pm CST. 2:15 pm CST, outside 59 F, inside 56 F. Opened windows for heat. Shut the generator off and changed the oil at about 4:30 pm CST. Refueled and restarted. Freezer running, watched the Super Bowl, fired up Shirley's computer. Used about 4 gallons of gasoline for the generator.

Monday, 2009-02-02. 6:55 am CST, outside 34 F, inside 56 F. Started 3rd 14.1 oz. bottle of propane for coffee and cooking. A man in a pickup with W.R.E.C.C. on the door showed up, looking over the power lines. Shortly after, 4 trucks from Yazoo City, Mississippi arrived and a crew of about 8 men went to work. All but about 2 were happy to get hot coffee. They slogged through the slimey red clay to remove trees from the downed cables and get them re-hung. They said it took about 10 hours of driving to get from their home to this area and they'd been working in areas slightly north, such as around Nolin Dam, which were devastated. They said our electricity would be on shortly, thanked me again for the coffee, and were off to restore someone else's lights. 10:35 am CST -- Lights! 11:55 am CST, outside 42 F, inside 57 F. Flipped circuit breakers on at the rate of about 1 per hour, just in case.

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