Ozark Ice Storm: Images of Ice
As electrical lines are slowly being reconnected throughout the Ozarks, friends from my hometown of Salem and surrounding areas are beginning to send me beautiful photographs, lovely scenes of crystalline destruction.
This first image comes from Jeanie Oliver (née Scott), who also writes:
I sit here tonight hugging my computer as if an old friend had walked into the door.I'm tempted to make some witty but inappropriate remark advising Jeanie to tell her old friend to walk with eyes open wide through the doorway next time, but I'll be serious because the circumstances are:
Winter has hit us as a freight train of ice and snow over the last week. The whole area has been devastated as if ripped by a bomb set off by mother nature. Our local electrical cooperative still has over 15,000 people out of power and the prognosis is for some of those people to be out of power through the month of February. As most of you know, my knowledge of the details of the coop [aka "co-op"] is quite intimate as Eddy has been been an employee there for over 30 years. They have brought so many crews in from so many other places that Eddy has lost track of the count. He moved today to Pineville to oversee crews from Texas as that endeavor had to have the most experienced foreman because the lines cross the river. They came and got my power on so Eddy would have lights and hot water when he came home at night. Since I had only been seeing him for 2 or 3 hours a night that was a nice change. He is now sleeping from midnight to 4 am. Then going back in for command meetings and back out to work. They will work these hours and 7 days a week until every single person is back in power.That sounds really serious if they had to call on Texas for help! We Arkies generally prefer not to inflate the Texan ego by requesting help. But good to hear that Big Eddy Oliver is getting more rest . . . on a full four hours sleep per night. Meanwhile, Jeanie parents -- Jim and Barbara Scott -- are handling their isolation well:
My mom and dad have all kinds of camping equipment and dad is the ultimate throw-back to frontiersman so they have been making it okay. They don't have power, though, and no clue when the coop [aka "co-op"] will reach them. The saddest aspect for them is the fact that so many of their beloved shade trees have been destroyed.I figured that if any individual would know how to survive midwinter on an Ozark farm cut off from the world, Jim Scott would be the one.
The scope of the disaster is made clear in a link sent to me by my old friend Herschel Ducker concerning the efforts made by the North Arkansas Electric Cooperative to restore services:
The number of additional linemen and ground crew members helping to restore North Arkansas Electric Cooperative's power grid swelled to 700 on Tuesday following last week's ice storms which left thousands without power, plunging them into cold and darkness.Note the statistics: 21,000 people without electricity in the middle of winter. No lights, cooking, or heating until the powerlines are back up . . . unless people can improvise. Herschel has been having a few ice-bound adventures of his own:
Mel Coleman, NAEC chief executive officer, said the co-op normally has about 75 maintenance and installation crews. Some 21,000 consumers on the 35,000-member service grid in Baxter, Fulton, Izard, Sharp, Stone and Marion counties remained without electricity on Tuesday, he said. (Frank Wallis, "NAEC calls on 700 workers to restore power," The Baxter Bulletin, February 4, 2009)
I've had some "adventures with neighbors" trying to keep warm. Thursday was especially exciting (as far as adventures go). One of the old ladies decided lighting off the charcoal grill in an unchimneyed, wood-ceilinged, unvented commons area of the apartment building was a good idea . . . . [W]hen I entered the commons area, well, "ballistic" is a pretty fair description of where I went . . . . [T]he local fire chief showed up a bit later advising everyone that there had been "a number" of confirmed CO poisonings with a few fatalities. To my added relief he mentioned that lighting charcoal or wood fires in unvented buildings would be treated harshly.Herschel was entirely correct in forcefully expressing his alarm, for as this link shows, the consequences can be deadly:
A massive ice storm last week which caused thousands to lose power and heat resulted in the death of a Gassville man who died of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning, authorities said. The body of Nathan Johnson, 47, of 625 Magness St., was discovered over the weekend by the Gassville Police Department.I hope that my kinfolk are being careful with the generators that they have running.
Baxter County Sheriff's Capt. Jeff Lewis said Johnson was believed to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Johnson apparently was running a generator in the garage, with the door open into the house, according to an incident report. (Armando Rios, "Officials: Carbon monoxide kills Gassville man," The Baxter Bulletin, February 3, 2009)
While I worry about that, take a look at the next four images, posted to me through two poorly-formulated links in a previous blog comment from Ruth Skrapates but also sent via email by way of both Herschel Ducker and my brother Tim Hodges. Here are two links, now properly done, to Ruth's many photographs. I recall Ruth well from my teenage years when she was a little girl nicknamed -- for some reason or other -- "Boobie" . . . though she now signs her rare comments here with "Skrap." Maybe she can clue me in on this old mystery of her nickname.
The next two images -- as with the very first one -- come from Jeanie Oliver, who lives on a hilltop in the Ozark countryside.
That last photograph might very well be a sunrise, but it has a setting-sun quality to it, an appropriate final image that also reminds me of Robert Frost's fine poem:
That's "Fire and Ice," published in Frost's 1923 book of poetry New Hampshire and first taught to me by Mrs. Deshazo in her 8th-grade English class during the winter of 1971.Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Fire or ice, take your choice.