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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Iceman Cometh: Remembering the Great Ice Storm of 1994

This may not even be Memphis, but pretty much every street looked like this

Anyone in or around the city of Memphis is probably a flutter with nerves at the impending shitstorm coming our way, meaning: ice. There is just one thing that the people in the ever-so-sheltered south fear more than snow. It's ice (don't even get me started on black ice, which I just learned is also a big deal in other places, not just here).

I wasn't aware of anything catastrophic happening in this area any time soon, until Michael brought it up. At first I rolled my eyes and scoffed, "It isn't going to do anything," which is my go-to response whenever people start flipping their shit about the weather. And I am usually right. It never does anything of note and schools close early for one snow flurry in 40 degree weather. It's absurd.

But then, like most Memphians right about now, I started to think back until the Ice Storm of '94...

Picture it. Bartlett. February. 1994. (please take into account this was almost 20 years ago so my memory is a little fuzzy so I may be off about a lot of things but this is how I remember it)...

It was an exceptionally traumatizing time where most people were without power and heat for several days. And in February, one of the coldest months of the year for us down here. And as I said before, people do not respond well to inclimate weather. Everything that can afford to be closed is closed and remains that way for as long as it takes for everything to be deemed "safe." Which usually takes about 30 minutes. But not this year.

Things were bad for what seemed like four days, and I think my family was without power for at least two days but some people were out a lot longer. The trees fucked every power line they touched and since freezing weather isn't all that common down here, no one was prepared. I don't remember being out of food or that there was even a problem with thawing food, due to it being so cold outside. We were fortunate to have a working fireplace, however the stock pile of firewood that dad usually got every year was frozen and pretty much useless. By some means, we got firewood, I think it was more of a "neighbor helping neighbor" kind of thing. Or completely illegal for all I can remember.

It was a particularly traumatic time for me because a few days into the shit, I got my period for the first time. My back had been hurting for days. I was a fairly wimpy kid so I could have injured it in a number of ways. My mom was just kind of like, "Take some Advil (admittedly, generic ibuprofen that has been put back into an Advil bottle that was roughly 5 years old at the time and now is older than my two children's ages combined)," and she sent me on my way. It never occurred to either of us that there was a very good reason for my back to be hurting. So it made a whole lot of sense when, two days into the ice storm, I got my period. I remember the look on her face when it clicked in her head, like "Ohhhh, now I get it... Okay. Yeah. That is going to happen." We didn't so much have a "talk" about it as a mutual understanding between the both of us that I knew exactly what was happening (which I did) and there was really no need for a discussion. I have a mother and an older sister and we have never been a modest family. I knew what a period was, just not how bad cramps can be, apparently. Which is why I spent the remainder of the ice storm laying on a hot water bottle. Yay puberty.

And for weeks now, my new co-worker Judy has been saying, "We are really due for some bad winter weather." And she was right, ya'll. It hasn't been bad for almost 20 years guys (20. Years.). We are long overdue, really. So I can totally see it happening this week. I even went and bought candles and batteries and I am now charging everything that can be charged. I may even take a shower and dry my hair.

Everyone will be grateful to know that the City of Bartlett has been trimming trees all week long. Any tree near a power line is getting it's branches trimmed...now we just have to worry about them falling on our homes, which I just now thought about. Shit.

 Please share your Ice Storm 1994 stories in the comments!

3 comments:

m said...

shit, we were without power for almost 2 weeks. we were one of the last people in bartlett to get power pack. the other side of the street had power for almost a whole week before we did.

Stacey Garrett said...

It might have been four days. I don't think it was a full week though. It was somewhere between two and four days total.

D.P. said...

We were out of school for about 3 weeks. I remember there was a big controversy on what they should do. They considered making us go to school all the way into the summer (like, late-June) but instead they finally decided just to add an hour to every school day for the rest of the year or something. So instead of getting out at 3 every day, we didn't get out until 4 or something like that.

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