Sunday, December 21

Biggest Ice Storm on Record


Briefly mentioned in the National news last week was an ice storm, the worst on record, that crippled much of New England and left 1.4 million homes without power. Well if you didn't hear about it Burke and I can fill you in. Our little home town of Gardner MA was hit especially hard.
The Storm
It came late Thursday night the 11th of December. At 1 AM on Friday Burke and I were awakened by a terrifying noise. It is hard to describe the sound of tree branches cracking under the weight of ice, crashing down to the ground and landing with a loud thump. We immediately noticed we had lost power and then we heard the sound again, then again and again. It sounded like the forest was crashing down all around us. Burke found a flashlight, grabbed his coat and shoes and went to move his car which we usually park on the street. We live at the edge of a forested area at a dead end. We tried to fall asleep again but the sound of branches falling continued until the first light of morning blazed in through the windows. The sun reflecting of millions of ice particles covering everything in sight was dazzling. Although the ice was beautiful , Jennah thought the trees were covered with giant diamonds, it created what looked like the aftermath of a tornado. Fallen tree branches had torn down power lines, toppled power poles, blocked roads and driveways and even impaled themselves through the roofs and windows of our neighbors homes. We were blessed that we escaped with only a dent on the fender of Burke's truck. A large branch had fallen right were Burke' car was parked before he moved it into the driveway.
View down the street

Our Neighbors house across the street

Our Power Lines

Our Backyard

Day One
Friday December 12th
Burke immediately lit the wood stove to start warming things up. We turned on our hand crank radio and heard the report that power was out across all of central MA and part of NH as well. We learned we would have to wait a few days before the power could be restored. Grateful for our wood stove and gas range we knew we would be alright. I immediately began calling other members of our church who I knew would not have warm place to stay. We took in the Sister Missionaries, Meredith and Adam Olsen and their three children. We also had Daniel an Dillon Bunker stay with us. They are the parents of Baby Nathaniel (see previous post). Little Nathaniel passed away on Wednesday morning. They had been home less than 24 hours before the storm hit. We tried to be as welcoming as we could. Our friends brought all the food they had with them and stopped at the one generator powered store in town to scrounge what they could. They described the scene as one from the movies. Empty shelves, people fighting over a loaf of bread, a can of soup or the last package of batteries. Burke spent the day outside with his chain saw helping clear tree branches from the road and driveways granting many of our neighbors with no alternate heating source an opportunity to leave their ice encrusted homes. Darkness came at 4:30 and we cooked a huge spaghetti dinner by candle light. The s handled it fairly well. That night we had the missionaries sleeping in the dining room, the Olson family in the living room, the Bunkers slept in the s ' room, the s slept in Liddy's room and Liddy slept with us. Burke's seemingly endless supply of dry wood kept us toasty and warm.

Adam, Dillon and Daniel holding Meredith's son Ryan, Meredith and Me. It was Cozy and Warm in the Living room where we have our wood stove

Playing Candy Land by Lantern Light

Meet the Chef

The Sister Missionaries and the Bunkers

Burke Captured this picture of the Full Moon Shining Through the Icy Branches

Day Two
Saturday December 13th
The next morning greeted us crisp and cold but we were still in good spirits. We managed a breakfast of pancakes, bacon, sausage and eggs. ( If you can't shower at least you can eat good!)Burke spent eh day outside with his chain saw. I spent the majority of the time cleaning, cooking and organizing. We had to boil water to do dishes and find entertainment for the children that did not include running circles around my house!! Mind you all this had to be completed before 4:30 when we started to prepare dinner by candlelight. ( I don't know how the pioneers did it all!!!) By the end of the second day I was absolutely exhausted and the kids were starting to get a little crazy. Then we heard the bad news. Gardner was one of the hardest hit towns and power would not be restored until Tuesday at the earliest!!!! I knew I could not keep up the pace, besides we had no more clean clothes and all of us desperately needed to shower, so we started making a plan. We found alternate homes for our guests and our friends the Wards, who live by the Air Force Base, agreed to let us come stay with them. I was too dark to pack so we began to prepare for another night at home. Burke borrowed a dutch oven from the Church and we had BBQ pork and chicken. We invited our friends the Kurban's ( and their four kids) over for dinner since they were without a way to cook food. I quietly mourned the cancellation of our Messiah Concert as I snuggled under covers. It was 8 degrees that night.

Meredith and the Kids
( She held her baby and Liddy Ann a lot)

The Aftermath of 14 people eating lunch

Our "Power Station"
Burk's wood haul and dinner

What are the chances the city comes and cleans this up?

Day Three
Sunday December 14th
We spent the morning busily preparing to leave our house. By 11:00 we were ready to go. Before we left we gathered with all our friends from the Gardner area and had a Sunday worship service in our home. I was grateful that Burke and Adam were Elders in our Church and blessed and passed the sacrament to us so we could renew our covenants. It was special to know that other members of our Church were gathering in homes across the region partaking of the sacrament and praying for one another. Our Church building was dark and empty but we all worshiped together in Spirit. As we drove out of our neighborhood I said a prayer in my heart that our home would remain safe and all our neighbors and friends would find warmth and safety as well. We were received with open arms by Chris and Mary Jenny Ward. After a hot shower, a diner I did not have to cook and eight loads of laundry, we settled in with the girls to watch a Christmas movie. We slept as well as we could despite worries over freezing pipes at home.
Meredith and Ryan, Corinne and Liddy, Mary and Lillian
All born within weeks of each other. They are sure to be friends!

Leaving Gardner

We could not believe all the ice was still there after three days!

Only 15 miles down the road and no ice!!!!

Power Line Repairs backed traffic up for miles

The tree removal guys backed things up for a couple more miles
With no clean clothes the s got to wear Mary's t-shirts otherwise known as "Angel Dresses"

The s loved Petie and he got used to the s too.

Day Four
Monday December 15th
Burke headed of to work and the s and I spent a fun day with Mary who is a pastry chef. Jennah got to watch all the TV she wanted and we made and decorated a three dimensional snowman cake. I did get a surprise when Mary found my cell phone in the dryer. I had been carrying it around in my pocket so I would not lose it and no kids would get to it. We just threw everything the wash when we got to Mary's. I was so mad. Now there was no way for anyone in Gardner to get a hold of me. A new phone was not in my budget either. It all worked out OK in the end but It was so silly of me to leave it in my pocket. Since we were only 20 minutes from Boston we headed into town to have dinner and see the Christmas Light . We had so much fun! Burke went back to the house and spent the night at keeping the wood stove going.

Liddy slept all night long in her play and pack
Liddy Ann rolled from her tummy to her back for the Frist time!!!

My Little Bakers

Mary and Jennah Assemble the cake

Jennah named her Snowflake and she tasted as good as she looks!

Faneuil Hall Market Place

Christmas Kisses

Outside of "Cheers"

Day Five
Tuesday December 16th
No Power Yet..... Burke went to work again and the s and I spent the day visiting the Jones Family who also live by the base. We ran errands, adressed and mailed chismtas cards and mae dinner for Chris and Mary Jenny. Burke headed back to the house in Gardner after work and I waited for the call that would tell me we could come home..... it never came. Instead I learend that the funeral for Baby Nathaniel would be held in Gardner the next day.
Jennah with her frined Bryn Jones

Day Six
Wednesady December 17th
Today we woke up to snow.

It was a cold day for a funeral. Nathaniel passed away on Wednesday the 3rd of December but because of the ice storm they had to postpone his burial. The s and I drove the hour to Gardner and I dropped them of at a friends house while I headed home to check for power(no luck) and then to the cemetary. It was a very small gathering and the messages were ones of hope and comfort.

After the graveside service I picked up the s and we attended an open house for the Bunkers at the Church. I decided to check the house before we left and I was so disapointed when the neighbohood was dark and deserted when we got to the house. I called Burke and told him to expect us back at Mary's house for another night. As I began drivning out of the neighbohood the most wonderful thing happeded. As I gazed down the street it suddenly lit up. A street porch light here, a some bushes there, a christmas tree in a window. We began to cheer as I drove around the block to where a single street light cast a warm glow over our still dark home. My heart sank. When I turned on the lights nothing!! Then I remembered.........filled with hope I ran down stairs and flipped on the circuit brakers our whole house lit up! I had sent Burke downstaris to turn them off before we left. It felt so good to be home. The heat came on imedatly and not apsinlge pipe wa s frozen. Burkes cold dark nights spenta alone at home stocking te fire and a summer spent choping and stacking wood had kept our home safe. How grateful I was for his sacrifice.

When we got home a Suprise was waiting for us

The s were sure grateful for "lectericity"

Thanks Grandma and Grandpa

I am so grateful for a home. I will never take elecrticty, hot water, and heat for granted again. I am also making a new commitment to our emergency food storage. I was so grateful for what we had stored. I knew that if we had needed to stay we would have had food and warmth. I am grateful that we could open our home to others and share so freely what the Lord blessed us with.

Today we performed the Messiah for our Sunday Worship Service. It was so sweet to be togeather in our Church buiding and share Handel's beatiful music with our congregation. There were members of our choir who are still without power. All of us weathed the storm togeather and today we celebrated the tender mercies of the Lord that allowed us to gather in safety and warmth. It truly was a miracle concert and a fitting end to our adventure in the ice. Especially considereing we all drove through 16" of snow this morning to come to Church!

P.S. It is still snowing.....


Christina said...

Wow, we are so glad that you are all okay! I'm glad you guys had a gas oven and a fireplace! I'm glad that you guys have listened to the prophet's counsel about food storage and that you and Burke were unexpectedly prepared! Merry Christmas and what good examples you are!

Tiffany said...

My goodness...what an adventure! You wrote it so well I was glued to my computer the whole time. I'm glad that you now have power and that everything was ok. Thank heaven for blessings! Litterally!
I had my bell choir concert on Sunday...only to see your two cute sisters and mom there. Your mom use to play in my bell choir..small world huh!! Anyway, it was good to see them and think of you. Love you!

The Hatch Family said...

What an adventure you have had. I'm glad to hear all is well but so sorry for you dear friend and her sweet baby, I can't even begin to imagine what that would be like. Hope you have a wonderful christmas!!!!!

Becky and Jason said...

Wow. I am so sorry you had to go through this. It makes me really wish that we had a wood stove. How wonderful that you were so prepared! I wish I would have read this sooner I could have known to talk to you about it yesterday. We missed you so much yesterday! I am glad that you all are safe and sound. We love you! Can't wait to come and visit.

Anonymous said...

This is going to sound really weird and please don't think I'm some psycho killer, but I'm a friend of Chris and Mary Jenny's... they used to come over to our house all the time when they were still at the Air Force Academy. My name is Jenn Pesek and I'm a Junior college now but I was much younger when I knew them... I've been trying to get in contact with them for a while now but have had zero luck. My email is if you could please give them that, I would greatly appreciate it. I'd love to get back in touch with them...