Ice Storm War Zone in Kentucky

03/02/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

More than a million people are still without power after an ice storm hit the country, from Texas to Maine. Arkansas and Kentucky were hit the hardest. It's hard to imagine what the day after was like in those areas, but AnneB described how Kentuckians were surviving in an icy Bluegrass State.


By AnneB

I was awakened by my husband at 7 a.m with the sound of panic in his voice over the phone. I was so sleepy I couldn't process what he was trying to convey to me, and his "Motor Mouth" brother, Mr. Panic, was in the background talking a mile a minute over him. So all I really caught of the conversation is, "The power is out, won't be back on until next week, and this is bad, really bad, Anne."

Yawn.... "What?"

"You have to go to get some kerosene, fuel for the generator and food, NOW!" 

Now I've lived with Mr. Redneck for enough years to know that he was in full panic mode because of Motor Mouth in the background, so I was like, "Yeah, yeah, whatever." And then I added, "You're standing in a gas station. You don't have gas?"

"No, Daddy's not going to be able to get any, and we are saving that for the wreckers," he said. (Motor Mouth was still going strong.)

"Get my son up and tell him to get his hind-end in that Jeep, and you all go get the food and fuel," was his final statement, and I was sort of ticked off.

"Get up, Dan," I bellowed across the room at my sleeping son. "Your daddy is down there, having a fit at the station, that we have to go get food and fuel."

I stomped across the room and went to sleepily find some sort of clothes to get on. I briefly looked out at the window, where snow was barreling down outside. Ok, so it is REALLY snowing. But we survived the ice storm, we had electric for a while last night, and we still had heat and food. Sheesh!

My brain could not comprehend what I was about to witness when I opened my back door.... It looked like a war zone! There is not a tree left in my yard that has not had the limbs absolutely ripped apart by the ice and falling trees. I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, opening the door to the land of Oz (technicolor)! Live and in living color I had been transported to a disaster zone. And my first thought was, "Oh my gosh, why didn't he wake me up sooner?"

We made it out of the driveway dodging and ditching around tree tops that had broken out of 50-foot tall trees overnight. I had stood on the porch the night before listening in the dark to the ice and limbs falling to the ground, with the sound of crackling ice and sharp cracks of wood splitting. It sounded like Paul Bunyun had come to town and took his ax to the whole town. By daylight, it appeared he had accomplished his mission. Timber!

We quickly learned that the cellphone towers were out, no stores open in our county, no fuel in the next county over, and no kerosene to be found. Our choices were to go west and south, a 60-mile journey to the next largest city in our area, Bowling Green, Ky. A journey that took us about an hour to make.

A caravan of four-wheel drive vehicles loaded with gas jugs and CB radios made their way south. I sat on my side of the "Cheap Jeep" with my son at the helm, and good Lord, I hung on for dear life! He did real good getting us there, except he passed a salt truck and scared me to death. In the middle of our trip we got a phone call to pick up a generator for the boys' high school shop teacher, and they assured him they would do their best.

The panic had apparently covered the area, because we walked into the Home Depot and were met with about 20 people loaded down with kerosene heaters and generators. The boys got in line and purchased the generator for their friend, the teacher.  Three pallets of generators were being sold from as fast as they could get them loaded! I wished to have been in the generator business!

From there we traveled a line of people filling jugs (for those that don't speak Southern, this is a container) with kerosene. The caravan we traveled with loaded up 100 gallons of fuel in the back of a truck for four families. We loaded up enough for three families and stopped by for groceries and were on our way home.

Luckily the roads were slushy and getting better as we drove, so that wasn't too much of an
issue while driving. The biggest issue we had was dodging downed trees and being stuffed in the Cheap Jeep with enough fuel to blow us to Kingdom Come!

Once home we distributed the generator, food, fuel and headed out to check on my mother. Sis saved the day by sending us to find a kerosene heater she had at her place, and we gathered it up with four jugs of fuel for Mom. I checked on my Daddy, and he was in the process of making dumplings to cook on the wood stove in the shop for tomorrow's lunch. Daddy is standing in a cold house, without a care in the world, making dumplings to cook! Gee, Daddy, think you're going to stay here? He was. I changed his mind. We ate Chili for supper, watched a ball game, listened to the news and were shocked that one of my photographs of our storm damage was featured on television! And now Daddy is asleep in my son's bed.

The county residents didn't fare so well. The evacuation center they set up at the local high school was filled to capacity, 1,000 by nightfall. The FEMA group was trying to haul in fuel, generators and anything else they could to feed and accommodate all those folks. It was not easy. But better than being in the cold and dark out in the county.

The end of my day consisted of my husband being "camped out" at the gas station to protect it; we've heard of looters in the other parts of the county, and he wasn't taking a chance. My little son BJ is cooking a grilled cheese sandwich on a "Ronco Sandwich Maker," and I am going to bed before the rest of my own "refugees" come rambling home! What a day!

Read more stories about ice storms and staying warm through the winter on Tokoni.