Back from Emergency Shelter

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by elastigirl, Feb 19, 2006.

  1. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    Update: Sammy came home :)! All the cats are safe and sound!
    On Friday morning, one of my cats left the house pouting and hungry because I ran out of dry cat food and served him food from a can, which he refused to touch. That evening we had round two of an ice storm.

    I have not seen him since.

    At 1:30am in the morning on Saturday, I was up with insomnia when I heard a buzz and a pop, and the power went out. Fortunately, my little desktop lamp connected to the computers UPS stayed on for about 20 minutes. I lit candles and hoped for the power to be turned back on. I put extra blankets on my son and tried to read a book while he slept.

    About 4am, I gave up waiting, blew out the candles and went to bed.

    At 8:30am, we woke up to a freezing house. I checked the temperature: it was 40 degrees inside! I warned my son to stay under the covers unless he had to go to the bathroom.

    Soon discovered our pipes had frozen; yes, I had forgotten to run a trickle of water.

    I called my father on my cell phone, and he suggested turning on the oven. I told him the oven was broken. He suggested turning on the burners full-blast. I tried that, but it did not warm up the room at all, just the area by the stove. Too dangerous to hang out near an open flame.

    My landline phone battery was dead. Yes, I have an emergency phone with no battery, but of course, I forgot where I put it, LOL. (Same with the emergency flashlight, but the candles worked well.)

    My father suggested calling the energy company. Bad idea! There voice mail was so long and convaluted ("Press 1 for..., press 2 for...," ad nausuem) that it killed my cell phone battery.

    So my son and I snuggled for several hours. I told myself that if the power wasn't on by 12:30pm, I was going to make a decision.

    I had no idea what that decision would be.

    I swear, it felt like it was getting colder, not warmer! I thought of going to a hotel... but would they have power? The only one that would for certain (well-known for having huge generators) was the MOST expensive in town, but fortunately only about a mile's walking distance from our home.

    I put batteries into a radio and heard a message loop on different stations, "XYZ power company is working quickly to restore power... Stay tuned to your local radio stations for updates."

    Only there were NO updates!!! Not a single station had a news program or even a local news presentor!!! Our radio stations -- my father later explained -- purchase syndicated programs. There is often only have one person manning an office. So NO emergency information on ANY stations, not even AM stations! Very scary!

    Purchasing an emergency band radio is now on my list of priorities.

    The only thing I did hear was that a church was opening up a chili dinner between 5-7pm for those without power. Wha??? I figured -- correctly -- that the power company must not think everyone would have their back power on by 7pm.

    So at 12:30, I made my decision. Since we couldn't call a relative for help -- and our relatives very well could be without power and/or water, too -- we were headed to the hotel.

    I went outside and proceeded to chip my car out of the ice cube (seriously). I tried to start the car. The battery was not dead. But it just couldn't turn over in sub-freezing temperatures.

    So... we could not call a cab. We could not call a bus. We could not call a relative. We could not drive away.

    Should we just stay? No, my son's cough was getting progressively worse every hour. We should not be in a freezing house, and we did not even know if power would be restored by nightfall.

    So I packed a bag. We doubled up our layers, piled on hats, scarves and boots and hoofed it.

    I thought -- certainly someone driving by would recognize us and offer to pick us up -- but no such luck. There weren't many cars on the road anyway.

    The snow was frozen, so we slip-slided our way for a couple of blocks when my son started to say, "I think this is a bad idea Mommy."

    I looked at him. His cheeks were bright rosy red, his nose was running and his eyes were filled with tears that were about to spill over. I thought, "What am I supposed to do?" (This was a silent prayer.)

    I looked straight forward -- I had completely forgotten about the police station a quarter of a mile from our house! Duh! I asked me son if he could make it just a little further to the police station. He said he could.

    Mind you, we were layered like crazy. It was negative five degrees outside. I was carrying a large bag over my shoulder, plus a large purse. We looked like errant Nomads. I even thought, "I've never felt more like a bag lady in my life as I do at this moment."

    We walked through the police station doors. A female police officer came right up to my son and said, "Look at those rosy cheeks," while patting them affectionately. She said, "Come on in and get warm."

    I explained the whole situation from the morning, and how we needed a ride up to the hotel; that I had no cash, but that I could put the room on my card. She said, "Sit down and get warm. I'll get you some coffee, then we'll see what we can do." She also bought my son a treat from the vending machine and brought him a hot cocoa.

    Then she broke the bad news to me. Every room in town was full. A lot of people were without power and very cold.

    I told her how worried I was about my elderly neighbors. She said the police station (which was operating on a generator) was opening a warming center in the gym next door(which also had a generator.)

    Since I told her about the elderly people, she said she would add my little area to the door-to-door checks. (Apparently the police were already checking on known seniors; I hope they were able to help some of my neighbors, too.)

    They decided to go ahead with the warming center, but gave me transportation to an overnight shelter since I was certainly going to need to stay at least one night due to the frozen pipes at home.

    When we arrived, I was stunned. The Red Cross had set up accomodations for at least 100 people! I heard that they had housed five people the night before, and with our family added, would shelter seven people Saturday night.

    The Red Cross staff was wonderful. They even ran out to get macaroni & cheese when we told them we were vegetarian. (Not being picky, they just asked if we wanted leftover hot dogs.)

    It was sad that so few people had shown up. I knew from my walk with my son that many people were without power and had not "chipped out" there cars yet, so were probably very cold.

    Every time I expressed my disappointment that this information wasn't being aired on the radio, someone would say, "But I saw the story on TV!" I would just smile as it took a second for the irony to set in. "Oh... no power, no TV."

    We stayed there all day. I managed to get my cell phone charged. I called my son's dad to keep him up to date -- and kept in touch with my dad, who kept checking on my place.

    Well, about 7:30pm, my dad calls to say a water pipe burst under my house! Not only am I worried about no electricity, two missing cats (another ran out in the morning and wouldn't come back) -- now a water pipe repair, too? But the good news was the power had come back on.

    Well, my father said he'd take care of the water pipe the next day. He got the water main shut off (this took many calls, plumbers were busy everywhere) and called it a night about 10:30pm.

    My son and I slept at the shelter. We woke about 7:30am, had a pancake breakfast and received a call from my father. He said he was sending one of my brothers to pick me up.

    My brother came, and my son & I said a warm good-bye to the people at the shelter. We went to the grocery store to buy lots of water and frozen meals. (No pots & pans to dirty!)

    After we got home, my father and other brother did fix the water pipe -- only now the toilet is broken -- won't stop running -- but we can still use it at least.

    I was in shock yesterday. All of my FM symptoms magically went away until Sunday morning, when I woke with a massive migraine from dehydration. (I did not want to be running to the bathroom every 10 minutes as per my nomral days, so I did not drink much at all.) Otherwise, we're no worse from wear.

    My esteem is a bit battered from having people troop in and out of my messy house, but at least it was family, and they know how sick I've been.

    Car still won't start. It's supposed to warm up today. Maybe it will start later.

    One cat showed up, the other has not. I'm very worried about him -- no amount of calling or shaking his food will bring him around. The third kitty stayed safe in the house the whole time. Please pray for our Sammy.

    After all of this, what can I say? It's good to be home.

    BTW, a local newspaper interviewed me and put my story on the front page! Too bad they misspelled my name, LOL. So much for my fifteen minutes of fame.[This Message was Edited on 03/11/2006]
  2. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    what an experience, awful!!!

    I'm glad you and your son were able to find shelter eventually.

    So sorry about your lost cat, I hope he's found somewhere to shelter and will turn up.

  3. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    Gosh, someone here has some influence with God. Because only a few moments ago, Sammy showed up!

    He was dazed, dirty and confused. He also has NO belly! I cannot believe he could have lost that much weight in less than three days! But he's happy to be home. Still looks out of it, though. I think he'll feel better once he eats some DRY food. Picky cat, scaring us like that :(!


    BTW, I forgot to mention that 20 seniors were transported to hotels room (gratis.) Some were on medications, oxygen, etc., so our rescue teams really went a step beyond by doing door-to-door checks. I think they did an excellent job.

    I'm still mad at the radio stations, but at least emergency services are in place and running like a well-oiled machine.
  4. alaska3355

    alaska3355 New Member

    I think you made a brave decision to walk for help...and then found it. Hopefully all will be well at your house and thank goodness Sammy came back! Love, Terri
  5. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    My son and I took pictures of trees the first day after wave one of the ice storm. I've added one of those pictures to my profile.

    After wave two of the ice storm on Friday night, the ice was TWICE as thick as that. As I was going through town to the shelter, I could see tree after tree with broken branches from the weight of the ice. It was the branches of trees that kept knocking lines down.

    On another topic, I'm so glad Sammy is home... but he is really out of it. Does not look well. He may need a few more prayers. I'm hoping it's just a little kitty cold, nothing more serious. He cannot keep his eyes off of us, and he looks still looks dazed, terrified, and tired. We're giving him lots of love.
    [This Message was Edited on 02/20/2006]
  6. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    I've had a very busy morning fielding phone calls. Two things really surprised me:

    a) Some of my relatives felt I made the wrong decision. What?!? My son just got over bronchitis, and his cough was getting worse and worse as the temperature in our house continued to drop. It was for his safety that we took flight. (I only heard about these relatives third hand, LOL. I doubt they'd tell me I made the wrong decision to my face.)

    b) Many of my relatives (those closest to me) commented -- when they heard I went to a shelter -- they weren't concerned because then they were sure my son was with his father. What?!? I doubt seriously I would have gone to the shelter just for little ole me. The whole point would be obvious to another mother of a small child -- you'd go to protect the child; to keep the child warm and safe.

    Anyway, I'm not angry with my family. Actually, most of the members were great. My dad for driving back and forth checking on people and checking on my place. My brother for picking me and my son up to take us shopping then home. My other brother for fixing the water pipe and cheering us up after a long, stressful day. My mom for helping me through a meltdown with a very supportive phone call.

    None of the relatives mentioned in the above paragraph were the ones who said I made the wrong decision. They knew about my son's precarious health and were very supportive, saying I did exactly the right thing, getting my son out of danger. Even his father, Mr. Unpredictable Reactions, felt we did the right thing.

    Wow! I forgot about the aftermaths of emergencies; the judgers vs. the supporters, the phone ringing off the hook, the emails, LOL. Really strange having a newspaper article, too. Weird!

    My father is still being great. He's going to loan me a car while he my car gets fixed. (It had other repairs that need attending to, so he's just going to get the whole shebang fixed.)

    While we were without power, I missed everyone here! Right now I have to get some breaking-point housework done, but I hope to be able to return tonight to respond to some other member posts :).

    Thank you again for your supportive responses and kind words. It means a lot to me :).
  7. ilovecats94

    ilovecats94 New Member

    Sorry you had to go through this. The longest we have lost electricity was 22 hours from Hurricane Isabel. Usually we get it back pretty quickly because we are on the same line as a meat packing company.

    Then there was the time hubby was in Walmart and we all lost electricity.
    That is a big area of Chester, I don't remember how long it was out then.

    We do have a generator that can run the freezer, refrigerators, a lamp, a 13" TV on rabbit ears, etc.

    We are lucky that our house is well insulated and we could run the little electric heater on the generator if we needed to.

    I'm glad you thought of going to the police station. Hope you son is better now.

    So how long totally was your electricity off?

    We had less than an inch of snow this morning. It is in the 40's now and the sun is shining. Our only other snow was an inch a few weeks ago. If we can make it to March, usually we don't get anymore snow or ice.

    Glad to know that Sammy showed up. Hope he will get back to normal. If not, you may want a vet to check him over.

  8. 69mach1

    69mach1 New Member

    once again you have showed how mothers in their right minds will go the extra mile for their little ones.....

    you were there for you son...and you used your head....

    just one more thing on your car starting, or not i mean...could you go out to your car and disconnect your batter y and bring it in the house until it warms up...the cold will kill the cells..we used to do that when we lived in michigan...expecially when we knew our battery was getting old....if you could get it on a charger that may help as well....

    sorry you didn't think to run the water...but there was only you and you were thinking of your son first...
    and in the long run that is all that matters...

    you have a nice day and stay warm

  9. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    ilovecats94 - We were without power 18 hours. We were without water, too, which was really a bummer. Our house is very poorly insulated, so I noticed the temperature dropping within an hour of the power going out. I'm sure this place could have reached a temperature nearly as low as that outdoors.

    My son seems to be working on a new cold or going back to bronchitis, but I'm sure it's better than if we had been in that freezing cold house all day :). He would have definitely have been in bad shape then.

    Sammy is doing a little better. He cleaned himself up, the terrified look is gone from his eyes, and he's even being affectionate. However, he is moving very, very slow, and when he does make a sound, he cries. I'll keep a close eye on him. Overall, seems to be doing better.

    jodieplace -- Thank you for always being there for me :). I had not thought of the battery thing, but I think that would be beyond my capabilities, LOL. We don't have a charger, either, though I've wanted to purhase one. They're still so expensive.

    I just completely spaced on running the water. Fortunately, when my brother discovered the crack in the pipe joint was long and rusty, he theorized that the crack started long ago and that this weather just did it in. Made me feel a lot less guilty, LOL!

    It's true, I was thinking of my son. No matter how many blankets, robes, scarves, hats we put on, it was still SOOO cold. I couldn't risk it getting any colder in here.

    Stormyskye -- I think my Sammy learned a lesson about pouting and leaving in a huff, LOL. He hasn't wanted to go back outside at all today, and he seems more than grateful for the food I put down. Yep, he made a bad choice. If I had listened to the weather forecast though, I might've tried to keep him inside :(.

    It definitely felt like my body was using everything it had to keep me warm. I could only guess the same thing was happening to my son. He had a great time at the shelter, so except for the short walk, he was not traumatized by the experience at all. In my book, that means his system was not as stressed as it would have been if we had hung around an ice-cold home.

    vilke -- Crazy story! Luckily, our pipes are back in order, the power is back and Sammy is back.

    Now I need a vacation :). My mom called and offered to have me over next weekend. That would be fun. If I can find a ride, I'll do it.

    But bad news! With everything going on, I completely spaced about tomorrow. My son has an appointment with an allergist tomorrow morning! My uncle did not arrive with the car dolly today, ugh! I have NO transportation. And this is a clinic that threatens to charge $50 if you don't give 24 hours notice!

    Unless my dad comes through tomorrow (I just called him; his truck broke down, and now he must use the car that he was going to loan me! Can anything else go wrong? I take that back. I won't ask,) I won't have transportation to join my son on a school field trip to see Curious George. And he SO wants me to go!

    This really bites! With everything going on, I just forgot these two things. I hope we will find a way to do the things we need to get done tomorrow. (I also have to mail an eBay shipment that should have gone out on Saturday.) Life is a bummer sometimes! It seems like all of our vehicles break down the minute the temperature drops below zero. How inconvenient!
  10. sleepyinlalaland

    sleepyinlalaland New Member

    I've always wondered what everybody does when you hear of ice storms and power failures back east. After all, most people DON'T have generators and/or wood stoves. It's also a shameful oversight that there were no local emergency directions on the radio!

    I spent a freezing nite in a power blackout. Daughters and I huddled under down blankets and were still cold. Fortunately, my car DID work and I could visit friends with wood stove the next day 'till power returned. This was in Oregon, and I doubt it was as cold as you experienced. So glad it all worked out.

    Thanks for the first-hand account! Now, I know what at least ONE person did. She done good!
  11. 69mach1

    69mach1 New Member

    sorry to hear about your son....and your car.....

    maybe dad could pick you up so you both could stay at his house tomarrow and borrow his car? maybe he has to work? but maybe you could drop him off and pick him up at work while you take you little man to dr's....

    i wantd to let you know i lived w/o all the modern neccessaites during a big ice storm in michigan i believe it was in 1985...we were w/o power for over two weeks...that was parents had a wood burning stove and my grandparents...oh boy..but we did it i had to go to work at a hospital and so did my finance' now ex-husband...

    i don't miss it...i know how frustrating it is...but try to think of how lucky you are to have such a little fighter for a son to walk all that way w/you and he is feeling like poo....

    then you have willowwisp..i think she has been banned, but she has been doing w/o becaue of financial reasons...i take my hat off to her and pray she and her girls are surviving better..

    just wanted to tell you did the best you could and you and your son are pulling for one another like a good family should..good job mom!

  12. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    jodie, I don't know how you did it! I can't imagine making it through 48 hours, let alone two weeks. I have noticed, though, people living out in the woods do tend to have wood-burning stoves. Good plan!

    I called the allergist's office and told them my story. The woman said, don't worry about the fee, they wouldn't charge it ($50 if you neglect to give 24 hours notice), and she let me reschedule.

    As far as my son's field trip, I was thinking of asking the school if they'd let me hitch a ride on my son's bus given my transportation situation.

    I don't know what to do about the eBay package. I don't think I can fit it in my mailbox for pick-up. It won't fit in a public mailbox. If I do see my dad later, he might be able to drive it to the PO for me. The postage is prepaid.

    Otherwise, I'll briefly explain to the bidder what happened and get it to them as soon as possible.

    My dad would probably have been out here first thing in the morning, only his truck broke down in a city quite a ways from here. I don't know where he even stayed last night. (A friend went to get him, but I don't know if he took him home.) Dad's not answering his phones yet, but I expect him to call me soon -- as he said last night he'd try to get us to the allergist's appointment if he could.

    Whew! I'm whipped!
  13. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    the photo is beautiful but just shows that underlying it was all those people without power and what a carastrophe that can turn into.

    I am so so happy your Sammy made it home. Hope your wee boy improves soon.

  14. 69mach1

    69mach1 New Member

    i just realzied you lived in michigan....

    i was born in battle creek, was my son...tht is where the ex is from as well....

    enjoy the snow for me....


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