Friday, February 08, 2013

Snow Storms and Blizzards and Such

The other day, my good blogger friend, Suldog, did a post the other day in which he was sharing his memories of the "Blizzard of '78" which brought to my mind some of the snowstorms and/or blizzards I have experienced over my years on the planet. Nice to read something that sparks a memory or ten or so for me that could actually lead me to writing a blog post, ya know!

Anyway, I told him I remember that blizzard quite well too but as it turns out, I think I may be wrong -a slight memory lapse there which is to be expected in the old and senile from time to time, isn't it?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized the storm I was thinking about actually was the winter of '77, not '78 for me.

Back in 1977 -a long, long time ago, ya know -I was working at Penn State University then and my ex and I had a dark green Chevy Impala that he had picked up via fleet cars the University had traded off to the dealership where he used to work. A big car, that was, with high mileage when we got it, but it was in excellent condition otherwise.

The storm that hit that year really socked us in -lots and lots of snow plus really low temperatures too -in the below zero column for way longer than anyone should ever have to endure.

At that time, our water supply came from a company in a neighboring village and thanks to the cold temps, not only did our car freeze up but so did the water lines!

I remember that with the car frozen up, it took my ex-husband three days to get it thawed out and able to get it running again. One of the few times in my working days that I ever missed work due to weather conditions!

But the water lines, when they froze, now that was really quite the episode!

The water lines from the neighboring village had to cross over Interstate 80 and to do that, there were pipes that hung just slightly below the two overpass bridges in another neighboring village. On the side of the bridges, closer to my village, there was a place set up with a pumping station of some sort or other and that place was the culprit that caused the water lines to freeze.

When the pump set up froze, that shut off any flow of water to our water company lines and with the water not flowing through, it froze clear back to the pipes that were underneath the interstate bridges. The pipes there then broke and fell down on to the Interstate too!

So there were people throughout the entire village where I live as well as those who lived in the village just on the other side of here who also had no water.

To add insult to injury, the guy who owned the water company that supplied to our village announced that he wasn't going to do anything to get the situation corrected either!

Men from both communities that were affected offered to help to get the situation fixed and their offers of help were even turned down by this old codger who owned the water company as well, which really had both communities in one heck of an uproar then.

After several days of no water and no repairs in sight, the problem even made the news on the local tv station out of Altoona with a little blurb that we were in this predicament -something really hard to believe because rarely does anything in this region EVER make the news, much less on the TV to boot!

But that blurb didn't explain anything about WHY we had no water, what was transpiring here to keep us doing without was not mentioned at all.

I was livid! And when I get to that stage of anger, I will go to whatever lengths I feel are needed to try to get some kind of resolution. To me, that meant I made a call to the TV station and told the person I spoke to that there was a lot more to the story about this little community being without water and went on to explain the situation then.

The upshot of that is that they, in turn, contacted the guy who owned our water company and they sent out a news crew, after making arrangements to have the owner of our company come here to my house and be interviewed.

While here, they also filmed my older daughter out in the yard with the biggest tupperware containers I owned as well as my big pots and pans, gathering and packing snow in those containers so that I could then put the snow into every pot or pan that would hold that much and melt it down then on the stove in order that we had some water to use then for bare necessities of life!

To this day, that daughter still criticizes me for having called the TV station, for having had the news crew at our house and especially for allowing them to take film of her out in our front yard, busily scooping up snow to be melted!

She was 10 years old at that time and apparently was very camera shy -to hear her tell the story today, anyway. Most kids would jump at the chance to show off and be on TV -her big claim to fame ya know!

It's funny but as a kid, we always had lots of big snowstorms but I don't recall ever having any of them classified as being a blizzard until I was an adult with children of my own.

Since the late 70s though, we have had several times where we got "snowed in" here!

I remember distinctly the winter of 1994, when I was in my last semester at Penn State and my younger daughter was a senior in high school. I was doing an internship at a Vo-Tech school in the neighboring county and from the beginning of January that year, until the end of March, every morning my daughter and I would lie in bed watching for school delays or closures due to the snow or ice conditions every morning! Anytime, there was a school closure at the place where I was doing my internship meant, of course, a snow day for me and usually for my daughter too! (Although our district isn't notorious for school closures due to snow but that winter, they sure were!)

I think I missed almost half of the days that I was supposed to be on-the-job with my internship because of snow and ice and schools being closed but because that was the problem and it was caused by Mother Nature, I didn't get docked grade-wise or any other way with my internship and my final grade was an A!

I remember that winter too, as I was working part-time then in State College for a private weather forecasting company, when the big blizzard that year hit in early March, that one of the forecasters put out a forecast to a New Jersey newspaper that began with this sentence -"Do your grocery shopping NOW!" (That may not be an exact quote there, but it was something along those lines anyway and those of us who handled the forecasts to send them to the various companies/newspapers, etc., got a big chuckle over the wording of that one!)

In 1996, this region got hit again with a blizzard -also in early March, around the time of Penn State's spring break and that time, the company instructed all of us who were scheduled to work over the time that storm hit, that we were going to be provided with rooms at a local motel to assure that we would be able to get to work on time!

From what I've read and heard about this impending storm due to hit today and with a particular vengence too up in New England as well as New York and probably New Jersey too, I hope that anyone living in those regions take all precautions they possibly can to be safe and WARM too! Don't venture out unless it is an absolute emergency when a storm of this magnitude is on the way to and through your region!

I'll keep those I know who live there in my thoughts and prayers that you all survive, safe and sound and sustain no damages either to your homes!



Maggie May said...

I think sometimes you have to use publicity and the media to get things fixed.

We had a severe snow /ice period that went on for months in the 60s and that went on until April.
I have heard about recent snow storms hitting USA. Hope it won't be as bad as the one you were recalling.
I hope we're done with snow for now.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Along These Lines ..... said...

Global cooling?

CiCi said...

This snow stuff is fairly new to me, I have lived in Nebraska four years. I did live in Virginia a few years but no real snowstorms and not much snow. I like the way people here prepare for what may come and have what they need on hand in case they do get snowed in. I enjoyed reading your memories of storms in the past, and I especially like your spirit when you faced the man who owned the water lines. The man could only own the water lines, not the water, right?

Travis Cody said...

I hope you're doing OK with this nasty storm hitting the northeast.

Suldog said...

Good for you for going to the media with "the rest of the story"! Sometimes, you have to go the extra mile to get things accomplished, and if you hadn't done so, maybe nobody would have. Big Thumbs Up!