Two men are huddled in bed during a power outage, wearing winter clothes to stay warm

Power Outages, Frigid Temps and Lung Cancer Oh My!

They say to always be thankful for the little things and that you don’t know what you have until it is gone. One of those being electricity for this Mississippi girl. We are usually prepared for heat and tornados, but not ice and 12 degrees. Some of you will likely laugh that I am concerned about 12 degrees as that probably feels like a heatwave compared to your area. I really feel for those of you that must maneuver that kind of weather because the world literally stood still for us. Delivery drivers and the mail service haven’t caught up yet. It’s like Christmas all over again with the bog down.

My whole community shut down

The stores emptied of all the necessities and then the trucks were not running. I am not sure that you can purchase a gallon of milk even days later. People were stranded on the main interstate for hours upon hours. This is a main corridor going through our town and it was one big block of ice. Our road crews were not equipped with the proper tools to prepare for the ice and snow. Everything literally shut down. When Wal-Mart closes at 4:00 p.m., it’s serious.

Cold air and diseased lungs do not go together

We were victim to two power outages within about 36 hours of each other. The first being when the temp was literally 12. We were prepared with a wood burning fireplace and plenty of firewood, but we decided to just attempt sleep and piled covers on the bed. The husband and I and the beloved dachshund dove into the covers hoping for restoration by morning. Instead we woke up to a 30 degree home and was bone chilling cold.

The second outage came when a thunderstorm moved in and a sudden temperature increase, but not above freezing, so freezing rain added to already icy and extremely heavy pine tree limbs meant limbs were snapping all around falling on powerlines and knocking out power. There were upwards of 32k without power in our small Mississippi area and some for an entire week.

Cold air and diseased lungs do not go together very well. The cold air literally hurt. I kept the covers over my mouth and nose as best I could, but it was really scary to me. I was coming off an upper respiratory infection and feared pneumonia. With COVID and so much illness, I definitely didn’t want to enter the hospital and risk getting the virus. We considered going to a local hotel, but there are few pet-friendly hotels and those were booked with power crews from other areas that were dispatched to assist plus the roadways were not safe. Thankfully, I am well and appreciating my warm home while hoping for spring to make a quick arrival.

Preparedness is everything

I learned the importance of preparedness in this winter storm and have quite a list of things to purchase to be better prepared going forward. Those without gas or wood fireplaces were really in for a horrible situation. Thankfully, we didn’t lose water access. Our stove is gas, but it requires electricity to ignite, so peanut butter and crackers were dinner. A propane burner is definitely on the list as well as a small generator, a cold weather sleeping bag and even a small propane heater. Our basement was warmer than our home.

This really got me to thinking about our power companies and their systems. Our power lines are buried underground, but the lead lines down the road are not therefore wiping us out. These companies received subsidies and it really makes me wonder what they are doing with those monies. Surely, there are grants out there to assist in becoming more efficient. I absolutely want to press our provider for better. We need better infrastructure so that when we need the service the most, that we have it. With proper maintenance of limb trimming and such, we likely wouldn’t not have had so many outages. I just firmly believe that we can do better. If I was on oxygen, I would not have had any hope. Electricity is vital for our survival in so many cases. It’s uncomfortable to be cold, but it’s another thing when it means life or death. We were advised that in future, if on oxygen, to inform the company of that when reporting the outage. They are supposed to assist accordingly.

Prayers for our Texas friends

Thankfully, we haven’t had any deaths reported due to the storm. We can handle heat and wind, but that’s about it. The last ice storm in our area was in 1994. My heart really goes out to the people of Texas as you guys were like us and not prepared for this type of weather because it doesn’t happen. Prayers going up for our Texas friends. Now bring on spring!

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