Journal of Connecticut 2011 Fall Winter Storm

Residents of Connecticut were informed days in advance that we would experience snowfall on October 29, 2011. We were expecting somewhere around 1 to 3 inches. My mother was saying that we may experience an outage but I really was not trying to hear anything about another outage in my city. The last power outage we had was when Hurricane Irene had paid us a visit. My house was without power for only 3 days then, but this Fall winter storm would be something that would rattle many nerves because of how long the outage lasted. I tried to keep a journal to write about some of the experiences I was having and the things that our family did to survive through this trying winter storm that they called a Nor'easter. Here is a little bit of what I experienced.

When the Power went out

Our neighborhood in Meriden, Connecticut lost power around 5:30pm on Saturday, October 29, 2011. The lights had been flickering on and off while the snow was piling up. The snow came down very steady as I watched the trees limbs in our back yard become weighted down by the snow. My mother was in the kitchen cooking a pot of spaghetti for some of the family and when we got prepared to eat, the lights went out. It was perfect because at least we could enjoy a hot meal. One of the tree limbs in the backyard looked like it was going to come down and sure enough it did. This was really weird to see because all the leaves on the trees were not off yet. It was fall and the snow fell as if it were wintertime. After eating dinner we got the candles, and lamps ready that we could use in case the outage was going to last through the night. I was hoping that it would not be anything major, but did I turn out to be wrong. The snow kept coming and coming and coming. It was still snowing quite heavy as we all went to bed. It really did look like weather that happens in December in New England.

What was that noise????

If memory serves me correctly, I believe it was between 12am and 1am when I was lying in bed all bundled up with layers up clothes on and many covers to keep me warm. I heard some weird noise at my bedroom window. I thought it might had been my neighbors dog upstairs but I decided to get up to see what I was hearing and when I go to where the noise was coming from I saw a mouse sitting on the top of the outside screen trying its best to get in. Of course I screamed and banged on the window to try to scare it. The poor mouse lost its balance and fell down into the bushes in the snow. There was so much snow out there and the snow was coming down so hard that even the mouse was trying to find a place to keep warm. Needless to say, I got up and started walking around the kitchen area near my bedroom to see if anything was out there. I tried to go back to sleep, but it took some time for me to do that. I don't know what happened to the mouse, but I was praying that it would not try to get in again.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Connecticut had been hit with so much snow. I still had no idea how long we would be without power. It looked like there could have been about 5 or 6 inches of snow on the ground. I don't think any church was opened this day. If it had not been for the snow that was on the ground, I would have thought someone played a trick on me because it was the most beautiful fall looking day. There was hardly any snow on the trees and it was a sunny, clear day.

The food in the refrigerator and freezer was still cold or frozen so we began to eat those things that may thaw our first. My mother purchased a huge bag of ice some time ago and that ice was helping to keep items in our freezer cold after the power outage. I saved the sandwich meat, sliced cheese and tried to save as many bags of frozen vegetable I could along with milk, salad dressings and mayonnaise. By keeping the sandwich meat in it bags and placing it directly on the ice kept it cold. The milk was also preserved and drank for several days. I took anything from the refrigerator that I thought we could save and put it in the freezer on or near the ice to keep it cold.

For dinner I ate a smoked turkey sandwich and had some hot tea. Our neighbor upstairs would allow us to heat up water or cook if we needed to on his stove top. That came in handy for several meals. We also had hot water which is something many people did not have. My family was able to take hot showers but you had to be brave to get out of that shower and go right back into the cold. During the last power outage I made Maruchan noodles using the hot tap water and that is what I had for a couple of meals. Hey, I had to be creative if I could not get upstairs to get hot water. The noodles actually got soft. Believe me when I tell you that the hot water in our house is that hot to have a cup of tea or get noodles like those soft.

Snow smacks Northeast USA October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

There was still no electricity and I was really feeling that cold. I don't have much to say about this day other than I ate breakfast which was a couple of apples and a bowl of Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal. I really did not have much of an appetite. Maybe being cold left me with not so much of a desire to eat.

The food in the freezer was thawing out so for dinner we decided to eat the pork neck bones. I took them out and got them ready for when my mother got home and she cooked them upstairs at our neighbors house. Thank God for neighbors and friends during this time. We had like 4 packs to cook so that is what we ate for dinner. Mother cut up some potatoes to put in with the neck bones. We also had to eat a package of broccoli and some corn that was thawing out. It was 3 of us that ate this night and the dinner was very good. We did our best to stay hopeful and just talked until it was time to go to bed. It was so cold in the house you could see your breath. We all went to bed around 9pm.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

There still is no power. I got ready for the day as usual. I think what made it hard was that no family members in different Connecticut cities had any power and I worked from home so I was home alone without a car. I did not mind being alone, but if I had transportation I would have tried to go somewhere to get some warmth. I would have normally gone to the library but that was not even open. I was hearing about how some food establishments were so crowded with people because they needed to eat and charge their cell phones. I stayed in the house mostly all day long and I think that made me stir crazy.

Someone brought me a Sausage Egg McMuffin from McDonald's and I felt like I was eating a steak. I am normally a very slow eater, always the last at the dinner table to finish eating, but on this day I ate that sandwich pretty fast. Who knew I could chew that fast. I think I was a bit hungry but I still did not have the appetite I use to have. Normally in the mornings because I am not a breakfast person, I would eat a Lean Cuisine TV Dinner, have a salad or a sandwich.

For lunch it was nothing spectacular. I really did not have much money to go out and eat every day so I just ate what I could from the house. I opened a can of sardines and ate those. I also found some tomatoes in the refrigerator so I cut one up and ate it with vinegar, and added salt and pepper.

For dinner, I got a Cold Cut Combo sandwich from Subway and another member of the family got Chinese food. I would have gotten Chinese but they did not take credit or debit cards. I was on West Main Street at a Subway and met some nice people who were still without power just like I was. They seemed to be handling it pretty good just like I was trying to. This was the first night I felt any heat because I was in someones car. That heat felt great. I ate 1/2 of the Subway sandwich and took a few bites out of the other half but knew I better save some for tomorrow morning when I would need something else to eat. I retired to bed around 9pm.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I woke up around 8:30am and got ready for the day. I did my normal routine and read Psalm 91. I made tea with some of the hot water from the sink. I ate the rest of my Subway sandwich from last night. It's only because my mother had a huge bag of ice in the freezer that we still was able to keep some things cold.

I cleaned out the freezer and the refrigerator and put all the food that needed to be thrown out in a garbage bag but kept the bag at the bottom of both the freezer and refrigerator because trash day was not until Friday.

I went outside today and the temperate was in the 40's to 50's. The sun felt really nice. To tell the truth, it was warmer outside than it was inside so I opened the windows for a bit to let out some of the cold air like my mother had suggested. The library is still closed today. There are still hundreds of thousands of people without power and from what I hear on the radio people are getting frustrated. Some people could not even get out of their yards because of the trees or power lines being down.

For lunch I ate some tuna straight from the can and some Ritz crackers. I also found a can of Mandarin oranges so I was set. For dinner I ate a smoked turkey sandwich, salad that my mother made, some chips and hot tea. We just listened to the radio, talked a bit and then went to bed at 9pm.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

No lights still. Started to feel really tired of the situation so I prayed for strength to get through this situation. I took out the trash today. The weather was pretty nice out. It felt almost like a Spring day. The afternoons were not so bad, just the evenings because the temperature would be in the 20s and 20s. I listened to WIBC today and the death toll was 8. A few people died from carbon monoxide poisoning trying to stay warm. There were over 200 carbon monoxide cases at the hospitals. People are doing anything they can to stay warm. I know it is cold because I was sleeping with about 5 shirts, 2 pairs of pants and 3 pairs of socks and had flannel sheets, 2 blankets and a comforter I folded in half so that I could have as much heat as I could and I was still cold. I would wake up a little warm and have to take some things off but that is how I had to go to sleep because it was so cold. They had a couple of shelters open where you could go and sleep, but it was more convenient for my family to stay where we were and try to make the best of it. One member of the family had to go to a hotel for a few nights because they had a young child, but we were making it by God's grace. I prayed so much during the day and sure did cry much too because I wanted it all to be over.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Got up around 9:30am. Some people had their power restored. I was praying ours would come on today. I did my usual morning routine and cleaned the house also. My mother called the Connecticut Light and Power toll free number to see when we would get power again. They said on an automated service it would be back on Sunday by 11:45pm. Surely not, I thought. How can I go through a whole weekend like this again. I kind of lost track of days. I really was doing everything I could to stay up beat but I was feeling a little down.

For dinner I had my mother buy me a can of Split Pea soup and I had that with a turkey sandwich. At 8:30pm we still had no power along with over 300,000 customers. I went to bed around 8:45 pm. I bundled up really good and said a prayer and started day dreaming about being financially able to help people by putting them in hotel rooms during this outage. I would cover my face with all the covers to get warm and then take the covers off my face when my nose was no longer cold. All of a sudden I saw a flash of light and I hear a noise like water or something. The lights came on. I jumped out of the bed, my mother came running into the kitchen and immediately go on the phone to tell everyone we had power. It was 9:30pm. The washing machine had started to fill with water and that was the noise I was hearing. I plugged back in the appliances. The gas heater jumped right on. It was set to 68 degrees and that heater did not go off for a long time. I know our home was freezing. We had been without power for 6 days. I went into the kitchen and put up all the lights we had and removed batteries from them and put all the candles up. It felt good. I could hear the people across the street yelling outside. I know they was happy. I did a little happy dance to thank God for blessing us to get some heat on, but not everyone had power yet in my family. I thought I would stay up and watch TV all night, but by 10:15pm I was so tired all I could do was go to bed. I really did not know just how tired I was from this whole ordeal until the heat and lights came on. It was like I could finally relax and sleep without freezing. Thanks be to God for bringing me and my family through this ordeal.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I got up this morning and took the food out of the freezer that had survived the outage only to find everything frozen. How funny was that. I just put them right into the refrigerator. Hopefully they will thaw over time. Well the power outage is over, but I was right back to eating a sandwich because I had 2 slices of turkey meat left and I made me some Tomato soup. I was just craving soup because I think I had been so cold for many days.

I took a hot shower, did my laundry and read Psalm 25. I then got online and tried to get back to my normal routine. If nothing else came out of this ordeal for me, I got a new level of compassion for anyone that is homeless or in need. I never knew how satisfying a cup of soup could be until I went through this situation. I have always thought of myself as a compassionate person, but I have to find a way to bless those in need. It is my desire to be wealthy so that I can be a blessing to others, especially in times like these. This situation just made me see things differently. I don't know what I would have done if I had a young child. Someone did have it worse than I did but I am grateful that there were many stories on the radio of people helping their neighbors and doing what they could to help out. If you have to go through a storm, its easier to go through it with family or friends. Thank God there are still people out there who have a good heart. Thank God for his strength and thank God we made it through.

My personal warning for those who use generators or other heating devices during power outages

I can't stress enough that if your home does not have a carbon monoxide detector or smoke alarms, you need to purchase them right away. Too many people have died because of carbon monoxide poisoning during this storm.

Please do not hook up a Generator by yourself unless you are qualified to do so. Do not install generators in your home.

Please read this article. What You Need to Know When the Power Goes Out Unexpectedly

Foods to stock up on

Unless you have money to eat out every day, you may want to stock up on some foods that can help you make it through times when you may lose power.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Tuna in a can or package
  2. Sardines
  3. Maruchan noodles if you have hot water
  4. Crackers
  5. Tuna salad or chicken salad in a can
  6. Protein shakes
  7. Cereal you can eat without milk like Cheerios
  8. Cereal bars

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