Friday, November 7, 2014

Last 2 Years: Super Storm Atlas, October 4-6. 2013

You know, if they end up naming a storm, it’s usually a big deal.  Super Storm Atlas hit Rapid City Oct 4; no kidding, it was a full on blizzard.  We knew a storm was coming and we knew that it would be a pretty good size.  School was cancelled for the 4th by the afternoon of the 3rd.  Even Ellsworth shut down by the evening of the 3rd .  With no snow falling yet we were hoping it wasn’t a false alarm. 

I was awaken at 3:30 am by some serious thunder.  Like middle of the summer thunder.  The sky then lit up with some amazing lightening.  I was pretty confused because I knew it was snowing, so where is the lightening coming from?  Apparently that’s how you know it’s a good storm, when you have thunder-snow.  It was amazing.  The wind was out of control and you could really start to see the snow drifting. 

Friday morning we could tell that this was going to be a big deal.  I was 37 weeks pregnant and had an afternoon apt to do a non-stress test on the baby and measure.  At 8:30 am we were called; they were trying to get all the high-risk patients in before the storm got worse.  There was a ban that only essential driving was to be allowed.  Aaron drove me to my apt.  There were already cars stuck on the side of the road and the snow was coming down so fast that the plows weren’t even out because they couldn’t keep up. 

Dr Frederickson was ready to see me right away.  She was on call that night and with the rest of the afternoon cancelled; she was planning on being at the hospital for awhile (she ended up being stuck there for 3 days!).  I had a friend deliver on the 4th and they got taken home in the snow-cat (a big tank like vehicle). 

After we got home we just hunkered down.  I was contracting a bit so Aaron had me sit and not move.  We wouldn’t be able to get out of driveway with all the snow and he didn’t want to do a home birth (and neither did I).  Our dentist neighbor did come over to offer his limited medical services in a crisis.  We were ALL glad that wasn’t necessary.  

The kids wanted to play outside but with the wind blowing with gusts up to 60-70 mph and the drifting hitting the top of some houses, snow play was banned.  The cul-de-sac already had a 2-3 ft layer of snow our neighbor got his suburban stuck in later that night and took 3 hrs to dig out to his driveway.  

Power went out at 3 that afternoon.  We would’ve been fine except our gas fireplace had broken the last winter when Aaron was gone and we hadn’t yet gotten it fixed (we ordered one as soon as the power came back on).  We collected the candles, filled the bathtubs, and found all flashlights.  Unfortunately I had not yet gotten to fixing dinner but our neighbor Jill Haugo had been thinking ahead and brought over chili from her crockpot.  

Right as the house started getting cold, the power kicked back on.  We were without for about 2.5 hrs.  Let’s hear it for underground neighborhood wires!!  The neighborhood across from us was out for a week! 

Even with the driving restrictions, people still felt that they were the exception and would have trouble on the roads.  They soon found out that that was not the case!

neighbors digging out a stuck car

it was a very quite few days

The biggest part of this whole storm was the wreckage from the trees.  With the leaves still on and the sap still flowing, most limbs got too heavy from the snow and broke.  A lot of people lost parts of their homes, al the big old trees from the older neighborhoods came right down and limbs took out power lines and then when power came back on there were a fair amount of fires.  

Tree removal took about a month to clean the entire city up.  There were 3 sites set up around town where you could drop off your limbs and city crews would mulch them down.  This was the site by our house and it was one of the smaller sites.

It was a MAJOR storm.  Again, our friends were out of power for days and us just a few hours.  The 37th were in Las Vegas participating in Green Flag exercises (Aaron was taken off that trip because of my due date!) so most of the squadron was husbandless the whole time.  WE had friends stranded in their homes because they had turned on their cars batteries to charge cell phones and then their cars were dead.  Power outages mean non-working sump-pumps and we had friends bailing water out of their basements.  One friend had a generator but no gas for it so she joked about her and her kids being found frozen to death next to the generator in the box.  It was a learning experience for anyone who lived through it and we are all better knowledgeable for it.  

I learned quite a bit even though I feel with the church’s teachings on emergency preparedness, we were a little more ready than most.  We did come to find that we needed things like more candles on hand, having my phone charged so I could use it, having gas in the car if we needed to sit in it to get warm, having water in our food storage (which we did) and food ready.  Things we NOW have is a chain saw, generator, more water jugs, more candles and a wind up/solar power phone charger.  

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