Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Foraging and Other Opportunites

Ice Storm 2009 Cont'd
After we found our way to our home the first order of business was to get the generator going and some hot coffee to sip on while we discussed the first tasks to be performed. We found a radio and got it going so we could hear about the outside world. It became apparent that we would be without power for some time so we began to work with the idea that we needed to regain our comfort level and get some normalcy back into our life.

The first thing was to reconnoiter our drive to see what chance we had in gaining access. It turned out that our neighbors at the beginning of our driveway had bolt cutters and cut the downed power lines removing them from blocking the driveway. Jointly we began removing limbs, cutting downed tree trunks and cleared the driveway so it became passable. Within an hour we could drive up to the house.

The next thing was to get heat. The little propane heater in the bathroom would not heat the house. I had purchased a high efficiency propane heater that put out about 24,000 BTU's several years ago. We had taken out our wood burning stove and I wanted something for back up. It was not installed, but I had it sitting in a corner of the living room. So off to Lowe's to get fittings and get heat in the house. As usual when you are unaccustomed to hooking up a stove you purchase the wrong things, to many fittings, not the right size and all kinds of stuff. Lowe's was open I believe the had a generator system. I struggled with the hook up, late in the day I found out that my neighbor had worked for a propane company for ten years in his early days. He came over and within 20 minutes had the stove hooked up and we had fire. Fire, Wilson, look what I have created!

That was about all that got accomplished the first day of recovery. Terry provided support, kept the coffee hot and made food to eat. Nothing was open, we had food for a few days. I was not worried about provisions at this point. We were not isolated, we had freezers full of food, and heat and water. What else does a person need.

It was interesting to watch the behavior of people. There were no D batteries to be found anywhere. Lanterns were gone off the shelves, candles were gone, people were not well prepared and were scavenging what they could. I found it interesting that men were buying up mixing oil for chain saws and bar oil for the chains. I had no interest in that stuff. The time will come when I will need those items but not for some time. Right now heat and comfort were the most important items.

People stopped, talked about the event. Everyone was discussing what they had heard, what damage had been done, where you could find lamp oil, or batteries, or generators. Lowe's did a booming business in generators. They sent truck loads in, were having residents call in order and generator, get a number and show up at the store at an appointed time to pick up their generator when it arrived. Those things are not cheap yet people were lined up. Some enterprising people brought in truck loads of generators selling them off the back of the truck in Lowe's parking lot. Lowe's asked them to move so they went to Rotary Park, the local softball diamond complex. They sold out and were in town for several days replenishing and selling. Must've made a mint.

In the meantime, my concern now drew to getting propane. I had 20 lb bottles we used for our gas grill and it appeared we got about 12 hours off a bottle. I had three bottles and finding a propane station open was tough. I did find one Friday night and had a bottle with me for refill so we got into Saturday. What I really wanted to do was tap into a propane line from my big tank outside. I have a 250 gallon tank that supplies my hot water heater and the small propane heater in the bathroom. Now if I could run a line and tap into that gs line I would not have to forage for LP.

Saturday morning I filled two 20 lb tanks and felt I could make Monday. However, once again my next door neighbor Eddie came through. He came and looked, told me what I needed, a length of copper tubing, some flare fitting and he would help with the rest. I found a gas shutoff valve behind the dryer, apparantly for a gas dryer hook up, we had electric. So we could tap into the line there. I had a long drill, drilled a hole through the log wall and fed the line through the hole. Eddie had flaring tools and came and did that part. I made the hook ups and within a half and hour on Saturday we had the gas heater hooked into the main tank outside. That was a relief. Getting propane in small 20 lb tanks was not looking like and easy task.

The heater performed well. It had no blower, so the heat warmed the place by gravity. The downstairs would get to the high 60's, comfortable, although it was a little cool along the floor. The loft bedroom up stairs was hot, really hot. The first night we stayed in the house we had put extra blankets and a comforter on the bed. Sometime in the night we shed that stuff and soon slept under a sheet and were still warm. It sure was better than the alternative.

Form follows function so engineers say. So the first few days were simply getting heat, getting some semblance of comfort and constantly assessing what we were doing, what was going on and basing our actions on those assessments. More to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment