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February 2, 2009

Impressions from the 2009 Kentucky Ice Storm

The major ice storm that swept across the country hit Kentucky on Monday January 26th through Wednesday January 28th. The brunt of the storm hit western Kentucky, where my family and myself live at, and luckily my family and I were somewhat prepared. Coincidentally, exactly a week before the storm hit I went out to China-Mart and purchased a $100 worth of prep items. Monday morning (January 26th) I went out and spent another $70 bucks on more preps to add to my Bug In Items in preparation for the storm. I was personally ready to be stuck with no electricity, no water, and no food for up to a month. My parents had just gone to the grocery store the weekend before so we had a pretty good supply of food in the house and we had purchased a 5000 watt generator about a month before. Monday evening we went out and filled all our cars up with gas, and filled our three, five gallon gas tanks up. Our generator is wired to be fed into the house breaker box so we were able to run all the lights, fridge, freezer, television, router, and my laptop. Cell phones were down most of the time, and so were the landlines, so Internet was our main source of communication.

We did a good job conserving our fuel, ran the generator all day, and let it rest at night. We could stretch five gallons of gas to last a whole day of nearly continuous use. We were able to eat, cook, shower, and enjoy the majority of our usual luxuries. Now I said I personally was pretty prepared, but my family wasn’t as prepared. We only had a couple weeks of groceries, and not any stored water. Monday afternoon before the storm I talked my dad into purchasing a 55 gallon water drum from the local Rural King. We filled it up when water pressure was going out and had plenty of water to cook with and drink. The pressure was in and out but we never lost ours completely, others in the county did, and some still have no water.

We got back on the grid Saturday afternoon (January 31st). As I am typing this, there are still thousands without power, and countless numbers of utility workers working around the clock to restore the electrical grid. These guys don't get the respect they deserve. When the tornado hit last year and left many without power, the utility workers worked day and night. These are the true heroes during a disaster such as this. Getting everyone's power back on means everyone can eat, and have warmth, and the guys that work like they do deserve to be thanked. This goes out to all utility workers, THANK YOU!

I learned a lot about preparedness, and so did my family. There are a lot of things that we could have had that would've made things a lot easier. We owned many flashlights, but didn't have any batteries stored, so many of them were useless. In this situation having a stored set of batteries is important so you can power the flashlights you own. Having emergency candles is important when needing light in a room. We had a couple 72 hour candles from a few years ago, but more would have been better. Water is another thing that we did not have. I personally have been storing water in the seven gallon Reliance water containers you can get at China-Mart, but my parent's had none (other than the fifty-five gallon barrel which was last minute). This could mean the difference in life and death in a survival situation. Getting the fifty-five gallon water drum made a huge difference when we needed to get a drink, flush the toilets, and cook a meal. Store water any way you can people; fill up old juice containers, buy the above mentioned containers from China-Mart or get a fifty-five gallon food grade barrel to store water in. Whatever you do, get a supply of stored water. Food is the next important thing. We had a decent supply of food for a couple weeks, but if this thing would've lasted any longer, we would've had to drive at least an hour to replenish our groceries. If you're storing food you want to store food that is easily prepared, highly nutritious, and doesn't need to be refrigerated. Warmth is another important factor. Everyone in the household needs to have a set of thermal underwear, wool socks, gloves, and a toboggan. If we didn't have the generator to run the heat on, bundling up and staying in one room would've been the best thing to do.

Even though we weren’t completely prepared, we made it through without having to spend a day without lights or heat. We could have used a few extra items such as batteries, matches, water containers or some emergency candles. But all in all, I think we fared pretty well considering that the majority of the people in the county went to bed cold and had no lights. More than anything this disaster was a wake-up call to my family, and that message was GET PREPARED! Disaster can strike at a day’s notice and could last for a while just as it did for us. Having storable food, water, a way to cook, heat your home and a light source, will give you a great advantage when caught in a disaster.