The weather forecast had predicted a large amount of snow to fall the night of December 18th. Of course, they have said that we would get snow many other times and then we would end up getting a flurry or two, but never the snow that they predict. The last snowstorm that we received happened a very long time ago, therefore we neglected to listen to the warnings this time.
The snow started falling soon after the bus dropped the kids off at home. When I looked out of the window, the biggest snowflakes I had ever seen were falling. They were huge, I means absolutely enormous! They were the size of my thumbnail. I knew then, that I was wrong not to listen to the warnings.
Within a couple of hours, trees were falling everywhere, weighted down by the snow. We lost power and telephone services by 8 o’clock that evening. I stood on my front porch listening to the silence; the only sounds I heard were the cracks and crashes made by the falling trees. I have never experienced these noises in my life. The snow continued to fall heavily all night.
We had a fire going in the fireplace and few candles that first night. I didn’t like the dark. I’m not scared of the dark mind you, it was the silence. I am used to noise and chaos constantly in my life, as those of you with children can understand. Actually, it really wasn’t the silence that bothered me; it was the ringing in my ears that took the place of silence that got to me.
That night, we piled mattresses in front of the fireplace in the living room to sleep on. We hung sheets and blankets around the doorways to block off this room. The following morning we all woke up chilled to the bone as the fire went out some time during the night. I looked out of the window and saw everything covered in sparkly white. I rebuilt the fire and used an old tin percolator I found in the cabinet to make coffee. The kids huddled under the blankets until the cold air in the room warmed up to a tolerable level.
My husband walked through the deep snow up to the old building and brought down the kerosene heater and a few camping items we had stored up there. I found some batteries and put them in the radio. The newscast told of power outages all over the area, and that some of the major roads were closed.
We decided to get out the 4-wheeler (a.k.a. the ATV) and ride around the hollow and see how much damage the snowstorm caused. We didn’t get very far at all as there were trees down everywhere. We saw the electrical line, cable line, and telephone line lying in the road for at least ½ a mile. We knew then that we wouldn’t have any of those services for a very long while, as those companies would work on the city lines first and we’d come last.
We heard a newscast on the radio stating that the emergency management service was giving out kerosene to those who needed it, at a couple of fire departments. We were stuck though, with no way out and only a couple of gallons of kerosene to do us. We decided to only use it if we really needed it, (which ended up being the following morning as it was so cold that we could see our breaths in the house.)
My husband got together with a couple of neighbors on their 4-wheelers and headed out with chainsaws to cut the trees out of the road. One of the neighbors had a tree fall on his house and they also removed that one. It was an all day job to clear the road out of the hollow. The hollow itself is more than a mile long, so it was a rough job considering there were trees everywhere.
With the road cleared, some of them could finally get out of the hollow in their 4 wheel drives to make kerosene and supply runs. Of course, my family was one of the unlucky few who did not have a 4-wheel drive and had to depend upon rides from others. It was okay though, at a time like this, they all pulled together and helped one another.
Our power was restored on December the 28th, phone on January 2nd, and cable/internet on January 9th. Our Christmas was a dark one, but fun. We played board games (Apples to Apples being the funnest) and read books to keep us occupied. My fifteen-year-old daughter actually read ‘Deep Storm’ by Lincoln Child.
I would like to say that the hotels did raise their prices during this time. I think it was wrong to do this, to take advantage of people during a hard time. I live in a town that has 80% poverty level and any business that takes advantage of people has no conscience, and that's all I am going to say about that.
I like living on a hollow (a.k.a. holler) and knowing all of my neighbors. I love the mountains and all of the beauty that comes with them. Most of all, I love my family. The power outage has brought us closer together and I am thankful for that part of it.