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The Great Ice Storm of 2007

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Although it might seem like it, no, I haven’t fallen off the face of the planet.  Instead, I’ve been a victim of that rare phenomenon of nature that hits Oklahoma about once every five years: the freak ice storm.  Early on the morning of Monday the 10th it crept in, and before we knew it, OKC was frozen over.

Around eight am, I woke up to find that I had no power in my house.  No power meant no work, no watching movies, and, worst of all, no heat.  Like everyone else in OKC without power, I waited, hoping that it was just a temporary problem and that I’d have electricity in time for lunch.  No such luck.  Dinner came around, and my house was a very cool 50 degrees.  Cooking on my gas stove by candlelight, I started to wonder just how long things would last.

I was still wondering the next day as I packed up myself and my cats and headed to my parents house.  They live out in the middle of the country, and they had only a short power outage.  I, in the middle of OKC, was at 36 hours and counting.  Little did I know how the next week would go: I had no power for a whopping eight days, and some people (like my uncle) were out for twelve or thirteen.  There were over 50,000 customers without power in just OKC alone.  School kids loved it, though – some Oklahoma City schools were closed for an entire week because of no power.

If you’ve never experience an ice storm before, you would be fairly surprised by what exactly happens.  The ice doesn’t generally stick to the road or cause major driving problems, so everyone can make it to work and to run their errands, so while you might think driving would be a problem, it really isn’t.  What is the problem is the ice on everything else.  The biggest issues here are ice freezing on power lines and trees.  The ice becomes so thick and so heavy that it pulls lines and branches down.  This is what causes all the problems.

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Limbs and trees were coming down left and right Monday and Tuesday.  Some took down power lines, some smashed into houses, and some just fell down, leaving people with dead trees in their yards.  I was fortunate; I only had one limb come down, and it missed my house.  But the rest of my plants and bushes weren’t so lucky.  My rose bushes had an inch of ice surrounding their vines, and some of my bushes and small trees were literally bent in two from the weight of the ice!

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The ice storm cost some people a good amount of money.  Gas-ran generators flew off the shelf despite the cost of $300 or more, and hotels were packed with people who had to leave their homes.  People lost everything in their refrigerators and freezers, sending them back to the store right after they got power back.  Of course, anyone and everyone who worked for OG&E or the other Oklahoma power companies found themselves working 12 hour shifts or more in the freezing cold.  But the cold affected more than just people’s pocketbooks.

While the power companies always prioritize hospitals and other facilities of the like, vet clinics don’t make that list.  During my time hoping from couch to couch, I spent a few days with a pair of friends who had taken in three cats from their local vet’s office because the clinic had no power.  Many people opened their homes to their furry friends as well as their human friends, saving these animals from staying in the freezing kennels.

Sadly, the ice storm did claim some lives as well as money, trees, and homes.  While those expensive generators allowed many people to stay in their homes, in at least one case, a woman died when the fumes from her generator didn’t vent out of her house.  Another tragedy came towards the end of the frozen week when a man was run over by a power company truck after talking to the crew.  He walked behind the vehicle where the driver couldn’t see him.

Fortunately, I’m glad to say that, with very few exceptions, everyone in the state has their power back and has completed the task of cutting down limbs from their trees.  The city has offered to pick up the limbs through the end of January as long as they’re placed near the curb.  Seeing the huge piles of wood lining the streets would make you think that the citizens of OKC had suddenly went crazy with their chainsaws!

The last ice storm to cause this much trouble happened back in 2001.  That storm left some people without power for a month, and fortunately, that didn’t happen this time.  However, it caused enough trouble, and many people are still dealing with damage to their homes.  Thankfully, it looks like the ice has passed for now (cross your fingers that it doesn’t return!).  I can only hope that we won’t see another ice storm of this magnitude for another five or six years!

Tags: Weather       

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Oklahoma Generator // Nov 11, 2009 at 6:59 am

    yes, it was a disaster for Oklahoma, many properties has been destroyed even my generators business, i hope it never happen again.

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