Storm Preparation – and a Friday Giveaway

January 2009 ice storm by Mary Nida Smith

January 2009 ice storm by Mary Nida Smith

It was a year ago on Wednesday that the terrible ice storm of 2009 hit.

Last year, I wondered what all of the fuss was about in the days leading up to the ice storm. I remember saying to our neighbors, “You would think the world was coming to an end the way they’re going on about the storm on the radio.”

I was used to being in the city during such storms, even if we lost power, we were still within reach of city services, within walking distance of the grocery and things usually didn’t stay bad for long.

I remember one such storm when I was a kid and it was kind of fun then, walking to the grocery store with my parents, my dad fell on his butt and my mom and I could hardly run after the tomatoes and oranges rolling down the hill for laughing so hard! We also camped out in the family room in front of the fire in our little bungalow, it was more like a party.

I had never seen an ice storm in the country and once I had, I realized it was no party.

Last year, we did stock up on batteries and about a week’s worth of groceries, but we weren’t prepared mentally for the destruction or living without power for 8 full days.

After the storm hit, all we could do was lie awake in our bed listening to the continuous loud pops, which sounded like never-ending gunfire. It was the woods all around us snapping.  Sometimes it was limbs, sometimes it was entire trees crashing down.

We were sure when the light of day made an appearance we wouldn’t have any woods left and we weren’t sure at least one of the trees falling wouldn’t take a roof from The Little House, The Belle Writer’s Studio or one of the two metal outbuildings.

The morning light revealed we had escaped damage to our buildings, but the destruction in the woods compares only with the destruction of a Kansas town I covered once that was hit by a tornado. Trees and limbs continued to crash for at least 2 more days.

It took us 5 days to be able to get to town and the landscape was the same across our region, as well as several other states. Trees down across the road, on cars and houses. Power poles lay useless on the ground, their lines strewn everywhere.

It was estimated 2 million people across the country lost electricity during that storm.

In town, Wal-Mart and the grocery stores looked like they had been looted. At the farm and home a mob of 50 or so people were waiting for a delivery truck to bring in generators and when it was late, they got a little impatient (to put it mildly). Our generator had been ordered from Kansas City and we knew it would be at least 3 more days before it arrived.

It was a terrible time and people are still cleaning up, a friend of ours practically begged Dale to come and get wood on his property just a couple of weeks ago. The landscape will never be the same, and neither will we. There were positives, we learned living skills we didn’t know (I never thought I would be like a pioneer cooking on a woodburning stove) and every person in this region found the good in ourselves and in our neighbors who helped each other out when it was needed.

When the weather forecasters started talking about an impending ice storm for last night, we took it very seriously. We stocked up on groceries and gas for the generators we purchased last year. We ran our errands and prepared ourselves mentally for the worst.

The sleet came, but no destructive freezing rain at The Little House. Only a heavy snow that is still coming down as of this post.

I’m glad we over-prepared.


We used a lot of batteries during that storm last year. I’m sure some of you have heard of or even have used the Sanyo Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries. The company claims AA Eneloop will replace up to 1,000 disposable batteries, so they are more environmentally friendly than traditional disposables. I’ve also heard that they’re one of the highest ranked rechargeables on the market.

Sanyo is generously giving 2 lucky Living Large readers a AA battery/charger set! Disclaimer: I am not an agent or representative, nor profiting from this in any way from Sanyo.

Comment on this post between now and Monday morning about how you would use the AA rechargeable batteries should you win. I will draw two winners and post their names on Monday’s post. Winners have until Wednesday, February 3 to send me their contact info! Good luck!

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35 Responses

  1. S.A.B.L.E. says:

    The worst winter storm I lived through was the ice storm that hit North Texas on New Year’s eve. At that time I lived in Dallas. We were lucky as our power remained on but many neighbors had to find friends or family to live with for a week or more. The ice storm that hit Northeast Texas in 2000 was pretty severe and we had to cut limbs to be able to get the barn to feed the critters. I work at an electric company and this one kept us pretty busy for over a week.

    The rural co-op that provides power to my current farm does a great job providing reliable serivce but when it does go out often it can be an extended outage. About 6 years ago, a build up of ice took the primary line down. I broke out the camp stove to heat water for the all important coffee and to warm a bottle for the baby sheep in the barn. After feeding the baby, I enjoyed the coffee while knitting and listened the weather reports on the crank up radio bundled up in my down parka. There are times an all electric house is a disadvantage.

    Most likely the batteries would be used for flashlights and various other emergency related items, aka camping equipment.

  2. My husband would enjoy the rechargeable batteries for his police scanner that he loves to listen to, day and night. He likes to tell the story of the night when he had fallen asleep listening to it, when he woke up hearing that the police were surrounding a house and ready to place a call to the man inside. The phone number was given and he realized it was ours! So, when the phone rang with the policeman on the other end he was ready to inform him they were given the wrong number dispatched. What are the chances of waking up at the right time and having that happen?

    • Kerri says:

      Wow, shebear, what a rude awakening! My dad loved listening to his scanner as well and I still have it in a box someplace. 🙂 Your story reminded me of the time I was a cops and courts reporter and slept with a scanner at night. For some reason, it didn’t awaken me during a home invasion. My husband came home from his night shift at 4 a.m. saying, “Um, I think you better get up, I had to show id to get into our subdivision.” The home invasion was in our neighborhood and was the last in a serial series, right down the street! That was the longest day of my reporting career.

  3. Rick Mooney says:

    I live in north Texas but I travel to your area at least twice a year.I saw the damage at Devil Den State Park after last years ice storm and my father in-law who lives in Oark,sent us pictures of damage from his town.We have only lost power here four times in the last 12 years but I am preparing a box of emergency supplys for next year when I move my family to a secluded home in Polk county Arkansas.Then I too will be “Living Large in My Little House.”

    • Kerri says:

      Congratulations on your impending move, Rick! We’ll be happy to have you here in AR! I hope to plan a Living Large get together in AR this summer, so stay tuned!

  4. I would use the batteries for my GPS…Geocaching is a great sport.

    When we worked on our house addition I put a wood stove in the master bedroom..its a free standing soapstone stove. We used to lose power about every month but now we seem to be much more stable. With the wood stove there we could easily make one room comfortable and use it to cook. The big woodstove in the living room is an insert and with out power the blower does not work so its pretty lame. WE get big snow here in the high Rockies and this, like an ice storm can leave us with out power and “stranded” A couple years ago we had 7 feet and were with out power for nearly a week, We cooked on the gas grill, and later in the week I had to make a ski run into town.

    These adventure lead me to built a Solar Generator, it can run small appliance laptop etc.

    You can read about it here.

  5. Kim says:

    …are we supposed to mention how we’d be using those AA rechargables?

    Um, this is most un-homesteady of me, but I have two toddlers and a gadget-heavy husband, so I’m afraid my rechargables would go for electronic toys and games and the like.

    Last year’s ice storm was incredible– the worst in living memory around here. Let’s hope none of us ever see a storm like that again. (I’m worried that we’re going to have some massive wildfires someday from all the dead dry wood lying around on the forest floor here in the Ozarks.)

    But this 8″ of snow blanketing us tonight? I LOVE IT. Nothing better than a reason to cozy up with my family in a snug, warm house and watch it fall.

    • Kerri says:

      That’s ok, Kim, I think most of us are gadget heavy! The snow is pretty, but I don’t really like living with it. I’m thinking we didn’t go far enough south! Saw a photo of Hawaii this morning and it’s 82 degrees there today!

  6. Keri says:

    These rechargeable batteries would be perfect for my son’s digital camera which eats up batteries like nobody’s business!

  7. V Schoenwald says:

    I was very worried about you Kerri, and sent good karma your way for a safe day and night.
    We have had some dilly ice storms here in Nebraska, but what I was told about over and over was the 49′ blizzard which my all of my grandparents and parents went through. My grandpa was an electrician for the REA for Nebraska, and let me tell you, poor grandpa was BUSY to say the least. And there was little if any equipment to move many feet of snow that was dumped on the state.
    I try to plan, put things away, for what every pops up. I would use the batteries for emergency use when we usually have tornado season, and the many electrial storms that take out the power here where I live, which is a trailer park and the grid set-up here is lousy to say the least. One bolt of lightning will take out everything for at least one day. I am hoping that we will be able to put in a wood burner stove, as I cannot go very long in a trailer without heat because of the water pipes.
    Anyway, Kerri, I am so glad that you are ok, and stay warm, eat well and enjoy. (I am ready for spring though, too)

    • Kerri says:

      Thank you, V, for the good Karma. All of it must have worked as we just missed the ice! I’m sorry for those in OK, NC and in other parts of AR that got hit. We have at least 9 inches of snow out there though. I haven’t seen a snow like this in years, even in good old KC!

  8. Sandra says:

    We call yr part of Ark. to check yr weather pattern. We usually get what you got the day before. Family in Branson & Harrison. We are ready for the storm. Lots of back up stuff. My husband survived the blizzard of 93. So far we have had only snow and not to much. Making a pot of chili and got the stove going on the fireplace! Can’t wait for spring LOL!

  9. Alexandra says:

    I enjoyed reading about how you coped with the ice storm. We have a wood stove, too, in case the power goes out. Awful how everything needs electricity, even the water pump!

  10. MarthaandMe says:

    We had a huge ice storm like that a few years ago and were without power for over a week. It was really a challenge. I found myself listening to the radio and playing solitaire by candlelight at night, which I actually found a nice change of pace. We sustained lots and lots of tree and shrub damage in our area. I’m glad you made it through your storm!

  11. Frugal Kiwi says:

    Glad you made it through. My folks live in the foothills of the Smokies and have been through many bad storms that left them trapped on the mountain with no power and a LOT of work to get trees off the gravel road that is essentially a long winding drive way. I remember my mum having to use a dining chair as a snow plow on the front porch because there was so much heavy snow she was afraid the deck would collapse.

    But with the wood burning stove, wood burning oven in the basement, plenty of food set aside and water prepumped up from the well, they survive well.

  12. Kathleen Winn says:

    We had a terrible ice storm in K.C. about eight or nine years ago. We were without power for a week but our stove is gas and so is the water heater, so we were able to eat and take showers. What I remember from that time is that my daughter Jessica had a pet gecko (in violation of my “no rodents, no reptiles” rule) and it had to be kept warm which was usually done with a heat lamp. We had to move the gecko’s aquarium in front of our fireplace and I had to check it constantly throughout the day to make sure it didn’t get too hot or cold, then scoot it around accordingly.

    I also remember that friends of ours who live near our land, told us that they worried about their horses all night long when the storm hit. In the morning when they went to check on them, the horses were huddled together in a field far away from any trees, eliminating the possibility of having a tree fall on them. Interesting how animals “know” what to do when nature gets brutal!

    • I remember that storm, Kathy. I was thinking about it this morning. Our lines were buried and I don’t think we ever lost power. However, my mom lived across the street in an older housing addition and had pole lines and hers was out for several days. She had to come and stay with me and she kept fretting over her houseplants!

  13. Susan says:

    When we live out in the county in Gloucester Va we were surrounded by huge pine trees….after some good storms that came through the area and watching those trees bend we cut them back well from the house. We had to cut a tree in our backyard were we are now because part of it decided to land on our roof….Like Amy I hate having to cut trees down but sometimes it has to be done.
    So far we have been pretty lucky and have not had to do without power or conveniences for very long. Flooding is more of a major concern for us with people going thru areas they shouldn’t and losing their lives.
    Friends in Maine were without power for 2 weeks after an ice storm took out the power up there in January of 1998…and they did not have a backup heat source. Just can’t imagine going through that for that long. Although she did say she got use to the colder temps so when they did have heat they did not need to keep it as warm.
    Makes you wonder how people in days long ago survived.

    • Interestingly, I watched a news segment the other night on the “Cold House Movement,” where people intentionally live without heat, or they keep it very cold in their homes. Same concept as the Small House Movement, as they do it for a variety of reasons – environmental and financial. I can’t take cold, I hate being cold. We did have the wood stove last year, but can’t imagine what life would have been like without it.
      Our forefathers and mothers survived because they knew how. We don’t and that’s extremely scary.

  14. Amy says:


    I too remember last year…. I grew up here so have experienced several ice storms but that one was the worst. The Oldtimers around here compared it to one that occured in the 40’s. Even after going through ice storms before I guess I’ll never get over the sounds, the booming and crashing, was so very unnerving. I don’t think I slept much durring last years storm. We got worried about a couple of trees near the old place so we moved our bedding to the livingroom that was on the treeless side of the house. This worry led to us removing most to the trees within 20ft of the Moonshine cabin which I now regret.

    When they started talking serious Ice yesterday I prepped not only for me but my father and an elderly nieghbor. I’m glad it looks like we aren’t going to get the ice so much. I’d much rather have to syphon the gas out of the gennie than have to fire it up cause the power is out.

    You can put my name in the hat… I got my
    T-shirt just the other day and wore it to town I got a kick out of everyone reading it thought it took me a bit to figure out why people were staring at me. LOL Thanks so much!

    Take care and enjoy the Blizzard of 2010…..


  15. Kerri, I tried to prepare myself. I made stew in the cockpot last night from the few items stored in the freezer department. My nerves are never prepared. Today, I am happy, it appears to be only snow. It can stop anytime now.

  16. Kristi,
    Last year made me realize that none of us are really prepared for a huge disaster, not even people who live in the city!

  17. Kristi says:

    We live in a small rural town in Ohio and understand the fragility of the power grid. It is good to be prepared for emergencies with flashlights and radios. We certainly get complacent until Mother Nature shows us she has the power to shake things up.