Last Day with Power: Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Light snow started falling around 1pm. I left work at 2 to get Erich from his school. As I walked to the car I realized that it was starting to come down hard. I called Thomas and asked him to head home and pick up Markus on the way. He said there wasn't any snow there. I told him it was on the way. I got Erich with no problem but saw traffic jams on highway 15-501 as I crossed over it. As I was almost home, I called Thomas and he said he was moving at a crawl on highway 147. I told him I'd get Markus. I got stuck at a street I need to make a left turn on to. The problem was that traffic was moving about 5-10mph and thus was a steady stream. No one would let me out. After a long time, finally someone stopped and let me turn left. The rest of the way was easy, just slow. I got Markus quickly and we headed home on a route that would have no left turns. We saw a bad wreck and I realized the road there was very icy. Slowed down even more. Got home and called Thomas. He was still stuck on the highway going very slowly, it was another half hour or more before he got home. It usually is a 15 minute drive. I gave the boys a snack and then bundled them up and we went out to play. Since the snow was suppose to turn into sleet, I figured tomorrow might not be a good day to go out. The weather was oscillating between snow and sleet. There was a then layer of snow, but enough to pull a sled on. We walked to the trail at the end of the road and then I pulled Markus to the big hill on the golf course. We were the only ones there. Couldn't believe it! At last year's snow the hill was always packed. It was a little then, but sledding was great. We made several trips sliding down the hill. Then it was starting to get dark and sleet, so we headed back to the house. Checked web sites. Duke has cancelled classes for tomorrow (which was suppose to be the last day of classes for the semester) and rescheduled them for Friday (suppose to be a reading day). The kids' schools have cancelled classes. We went to bed. Thomas said we lost power at 11:30. He got up and turned off computers.

Day 1: Thursday, December 5, 2002

We awoke around 2:30am, hearing loud crashes around the yard and ocasionally on the house. We have no phone or power. This is just like it was with Hurricane Fran, only much colder! We couldn't sleep the rest of the night. Just stayed in bed trying to stay warm, getting up each time something hit the house to see if the house was ok, which happened about 3-4 times an hour. Most of the crashes were branches, heavy with an inch thick of ice falling like a bomb, hitting the roof and sliding off the ground. Many were distant in the yard. Then one loud crash sounded bad, Thomas gets out to look and announces that a tree just fell on the house above us!


Tree on our house - Dec 02


Tree that fell on our house

We got up when it was light. Pretty clear that we are not going anywhere today! Got a good look at the tree that hit our house. It was hollow about 15 feet up and split there, the top half falling and hitting the top of the roof above our bedroom. Putting a small hole at the very top and smashing some vents. Looked in the attic and water was dripping in slowly. Put a bucket under it and a plastic tarp on the floor. Didn't see any more drips.

Got the kids up and had a slow morning. We had already put up the Christmas tree earlier since we heard it was going to sleet, so we spent the morning decorating it. Can't turn on the lights yet. It was still sleeting and tree bombs dropping ocasionally, so couldn't go outside to play.

Around noon the sleet finally stopped. Thomas went out and cut the tree off the house. The top of the tree was on the house so he had to cut off lots of branches one by one. Near the end of the afternoon we finally went out and walked around the block. We saw power lines down everywhere, trees down blocking the road, trees blocking our driveway. Our neighbors driveway is ok, so we can use it.

At night the house was starting to get cold. Pretty clear we will not get power for awhile. We have gas heat (which doesn't work), gas hot water (works), gas stove (works) and gas fireplace (works). We also have two lanterns for camping, lots of flashlights, heavy down comforters from our days in Albany, NY, so we are in pretty good shape. We huddled by the fire and read books by flashlight. Put the kids to bed. Then Thomas and I started checking the fish tanks. His 8 tropical fish tanks that are suppose to be at 80 degrees were nearing 65 degrees. We spent three hours taking out 1/3 of the water in each tank, replacing it with hot water, raising the temp to 84 degrees and then wraping the tanks in blankets and towels. Very tired we headed to bed. Put an extra comforter on Erich. Grabbed Markus and put him in bed with us as he kicks off the covers every night.

Day 2: Friday, December 6, 2002

Hard to get up, it is so cold. I got up when it was light and headed to work. I had two classes at Duke, and it was the last day of class. Thomas hung out with the boys all day. The roads were not slick at all, but there were trees and branches all over the road and all the stop lights were out. It was quite an obstical course to get in.

Duke has its own generator, so Duke campus had power. Students on campus never lost power. Many people are in worst shape than we are. Owen has a well and thus has no water. He has an electric stove so can't use that, but does have a camping stove and a fireplace. Went home at 2:30 and got Thomas and the boys and brought them back to Duke. I played with the boys while Thomas sent out some email. We ate dinner early on campus and then went home to our dark and very cold house. The low tonight is suppose to be 19 degrees. As we are sitting in the cold, we look out the window across the street at our neighbor, the Duke president, who has very loud generators running and has her house and driveway lights lit up. She is having a party! There are cars parked all over the street going to her party. Meanwhile our neighborhood is completely dark except for her house. Erich and Markus keep asking me why is she having a party when we are freezing in the dark!

We sit by the fire and read books again. Markus wants to listen to his favorite CD, Wiggle's Safari, and we have to explain we can't because we have no power. He will have to just sing it, which he does. We put the boys to bed. For the next three hours we put hot water in the fish tanks again. We did a good job on most tanks, they are around 72 degrees. A few tanks need more towels and blankets. We grab Markus and put him in bed with us, but he wakes up screaming that he wants to go back to his bed. Then Erich wakes up screaming because he has a cramp in his leg. We finally end up all sleeping in the boys room, me with Markus and Thomas with Erich. It is really cold, but warm under the down comforters.

Day 3: Saturday, December 7, 2002

It was very hard to get up this morning. It really is 19 degrees! Another slow morning getting up. We have been cooking French toast for breakfast every morning because it is warm! We hung out around the house in the morning. We kept hearing trucks and thought maybe the power trucks were here, then we would look out the window and it would just be another catering or party truck across the street to clean up after the party the night before! Oh well. We had hot soup for lunch. The gas stove is great for that!

I took the boys on a walk. We walked to Dina's house then onto the Duke Trail. We had to climb over trees. Walked a long way to the bridge and then to the fitness trail. At the end of the fitness trail we saw a sign that says the trail is closed. Oh well. I can see why. We had one more segment of trail we had to go down to get back to our street and it was the worst. Got back to the house and Thomas has a generator! He got it at Cosco. It was a small one, but it was also the last one they had. He also had lots of small gas cans, the only size they had.

Thomas had to rewire the heator, but got the generator working, so we have heat! It feels really warm! The generator can power just the heater, or just the freezer, or just the fish tanks. Someone will have to be here when it is on. It runs for 3 hours max and then has to be filled again. Tonight we didn't have to change the water in the fish tanks, just run the heaters!

Warmed up the house, turned off the generator and went to bed.

Day 4: Sunday, December 8, 2002

Thomas got out of bed first and turned on the generator to warm up the house. So nice to get up in a warm house! Today we cleaned out our upstairs freezer (will lose bread and small or thin things like bread which have thawed. Moved all our refridgerator stuff to coolers with snow in them.

The kids are being really creative. Erich built me an office with four walls made out of cardboard bricks so I could work here. At night they like to pick up their toys by finding them with the flashlight. They also like to play "find the frisbees", throwing mini frisbees into a dark room and then finding them with a flashlight!

Tired of cooking in the dark. We got take out from Boston Chicken. There is an oasis of restaurants with power on near South Square. Then you head back into the dark neighborhood.

Day 5: Monday, December 9, 2002

Schools are still closed due to no power. Erich's school has an answering machine, so they must have power, maybe they will open tomorrow. Thomas cleaned out our refridgerator, it is completely empty and clean now. We also pulled a tarp over the hole in our roof and put a plastic bag over the broken vent since it may rain tomorrow. We've been using our dishwasher as a place for dishes to dry. However, since the disposal doesn't work, little pieces of food are clogging the drain and the water is backing into the dishwasher. I opened the dishwasher and water ran out onto the floor!

About 4:30 we were headed out to dinner when we finally saw 3 big trucks on our street out front. We went outside and watched one tree cutting truck and two power trucks from Georgia for about 30 minutes. They cut the trees around the power lines and strung the wires tight. One of the workers came over to the boys and offered them some candy! They were very nice. We headed out to get dinner again, this time to Macaroni Grill. On the way home went through the neighborhood and lots of people have power! But not the few houses near us. It will be another dark night. Our neighbors behind us, one street over all have power.

Day 6: Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Erich went to school. Markus' school is still closed. When I got back from dropping off Erich there was a power truck in our driveway fixing the line to our house! Thomas left and went to Markus' day care to help clear the branches and shovel the snow and ice. At about 9:45am we got power! Called Thomas to tell him! He told me to turn off the generator and plug in his fish tanks, and freezer too.

Tonight was spent starting the cleanup. Our house is a wreck and there are tons of piles of laundry. We used every towel and blanket in the house on the fish tanks. We used lots of clothes to keep warm. Started some laundry.

Day 7: Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Still no power at Markus' school. Got someone to watch him til 3. After getting him, we drove by his school and the power was on! Called the owner and she said she had just been there an hour before and the power was off.

Day 8: Thursday, December 12, 2002

Markus' daycare is finally open!

Day 13: Tuesday, December 17, 2002

We got phone back finally!


Our Driveway


Markus, Thomas and Erich - Dec 02


Ice Storm - Dec 02


Erich and Markus - Dec 02


Ice Storm


Erich and Markus - Dec 02


Markus - Dec 02


Repairing the power, in our driveway - Dec 02


Jeff cutting down tree (1/03)


Thomas pulling, Jeff cutting (1/03)


Nonna watching from a safe distance (1/03)


Tree is down! (1/03)