Sunday, January 14, 2007

Weather Isn't OK In Oklahoma

What a week this has been. The last seven days has given us near record highs and now a deadly wet cold.

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry has declared the entire state is in a state of emergency. It is being reported that at least 91,000 Oklahomans living in Green Country (central and northeast areas of the state) alone are without power due to ice storms that hit the state on Friday night and continued on Saturday. A brief respite was had late Saturday and into early Sunday morning, but even as I write this a strong storm cell that includes freezing rain and thunder is moving into the area. With it comes winds that will more than likely add to the numbers of those without power.

At least two rural areas are additionally without water or are conserving water usage because of lost power to water pumping stations. One city is warning it's residents to not drink the water they are getting for fear of contamination, because power was lost to the city's treatment plant. Many small towns have established emergency centers to house refugees of the storm driven out of their homes from the frigid temperatures (high today is expected to be only 25 degrees).

One woman caller to a local TV station reported her power had been out in her rural home since Friday night and that she had yet to see any workers out to fix it. She wasn't given much hope for a quick fix as the TV announcer said that isolated rural areas would be the last areas responded to by electric companies.

My personal home lost power Saturday around 6 p.m. My sons are there making the best of it and camping out in the living room. I had been sick all week and came to Tulsa before the storm hit thinking I would be well enough to work this weekend, but that was just wishful thinking on my part. I have spent the last six days running a continuous low-grade temp, taking ibuprofen and antihistamines to slow down the severe head cold I've got, and spending my time bundled up and sleeping off and on in a recliner. On top of the physical misery I've got, I now find myself worried and feeling extremely guilty that I am here with electricity and heat while my boys are making due without. My oldest is used to roughing it from his years in the military, so I can at least take comfort that he knows how to make the best of a bad situation. For the younger son, he's living this as an adventure and something to be "remembered when".

The last time we had ice this bad at our home (winter of 1993) we were without power for 6 days. We were forced to move in with a girlfriend and her family who didn't have power either, but did have a fireplace and a gas range to cook from. My home has propane heat, but without power the unit doesn't work and we have an electric range and oven. My older son has moved a propane heater in from the garage and is using it to cook and warm the house. The heater fortunately is a good one and can heat the house in a matter of minutes, so he is only turning it on about every two hours or so for about 10 minutes at a time.

To make matters worse I was just on the phone with my oldest and the line went dead. Both cell and land lines are down, more or less. He was able to text message me from his cellphone, but I don't know if he got my message in reply. He wrote they are going to go to town to resupply and will call (if he can) from there. If not, I will continue to fumble with my cellphones tiny keypad and cuss a lot over the next few days I've got a feeling.

And so our family is dealing with this (not so OK) Oklahoma weather. There are those with worse situations than what we face - the elderly, those without phone service, power or water, those whose houses have been damaged by falling trees, and those who are stranded traveling through the state are in a much larger world of hurt than what we are.

I'm getting ready to hit the publish button and can hear sleet once more hitting the roof of the house. Our next round has officially begun. Please, say a little prayer for everyone here and think really warm thoughts for us all.

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posted by Is It Just Me? at 7:32 AM