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St. Charles storm damage update


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St. Charles storm damage update
Topic: St. Louis Events 6:11 pm EST, Jan 14, 2007

The highest concentrations of outages Saturday were in St. Charles and Florissant, where about a quarter-inch of ice covered vulnerable trees and power lines. About 108,000 customers — 6,200 in Illinois and 101,800 in Missouri — remained without power at 11:15 p.m. Saturday. As of 9:30 p.m., the utility said about 2,800 Metro East customers had suffered outages.

The storm has been blamed for at least six deaths in the Midwest and brought Amtrak service in Missouri to a halt on Saturday.

(Storm update)

Things here in St. Charles, Missouri, are pretty bad. The storm hit hard on Friday evening, and power started going out in various parts of the city. By Saturday morning, we were encased in ice. My apartment still had intermittent power on Saturday morning, but the view outside the window was the strangest I think I've ever seen, because of how the ice was affecting everything. Imagine trees that had been familiar to you for years, but you wake up one morning, and they've all completely changed. Branches that used to point *up*, now point down. Flowers and shrubbery everywhere are flattened. Broken branches litter the streets and yards. Everything glitters a dangerous icy white.

Though my heater was still working on Saturday, my area was an exception. Many other homes in the area had no power whatsoever, and things started getting cold.

By Saturday afternoon, the power was still flickering, but the temperature was up enough that the snow had turned to rain, which meant that at least the roads were drivable, for anyone who wanted to venture out.

Saturday evening though, my apartment lost power as well. At first we just lit candles and kept on with life (No electricity is required to play Settlers of Catan, heh), and we bundled up enough to stay warm through the evening, but by morning, it was starting to get chilly.

By flashlight, I've been pulling all my Antarctica gear out of the closets.

I called my office phone # to see if there was still power there, and when I got voice-mail, realized that the building was okay. So I drove in to work, and found out that several other people had had the same idea. There are pillows and blankets littered around the floor and sofas, as our office has been turned into an emergency shelter.

On my way to the office, I spent an hour or so driving around the area, and it's pretty strange. The roads are open, but most businesses are closed. For any grocery stores that are open, their parking lots are packed, as people stock up with supplies. The fast food restaurants are in a strange status. Some of them literally "have the lights on but nobody home" -- like the Taco Bell has its neon "Drive Thru Open" sign lit-up, but the doors are locked and there doesn't seem to be anyone inside. Cars line up in the drive-thru lane, wait a few minutes 'til they realize that there's no one inside, and then drive on. Other cars slowly circle through various parking lots, checking shops that *seem* to be open because the lights are on, but in reality are abandoned.

I've been checking on some of my elderly neighbors, but their car is gone so I expect that they've headed off to warmer climes.

According to the radio, there are over 150,000 homes without electricity, and the local utility company is forecasting that it may take several days to completely restore power. The weather outside is calm right now, about 34 degrees, but the weather report says that freezing rain is going to start again this evening, and will be accompanied with high winds. This means that things will probably be worse tomorrow, as the winds blow ice-laden branches into more of the power lines.

Bottom line though - I am not in any life-threatening danger. I've got food and supplies enough to last for months, and plenty of blankets and warm clothing. I think the first thing I might start really missing would be hot showers, but some of my co-workers who still have power have been offering their own homes as shelters. Their own services are sporadic -- some have power, but no phone or internet. Some have phone, but no electricity. Ultimately though, I'd list our own immediate current status as "Uncomfortable but not dangerous. Check back in a few days."

Heading back into the burrow...

Elonka :)

St. Charles storm damage update

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