Thursday, February 5, 2009

Paducah Ice Storm Update and a Challenge from Sweden

First the update. This storm is the biggest natural disaster in Kentucky's history, involving the largest National Guard call up ever.

It was cold last night. Single digits cold. And still 4,000 people in my (relatively urban and high tech) county are without power. In the state, they are a small part of the 271,460 who are powerless. These houses aren't designed for this. Under our hardwood floors there is nothing. Not a second layer, no plywood, no insulation. Just the fir and then the great outdoors.

Our local NPR station, WKMS, (without hyperbole the best NPR station in the world), has done a herculean job of keeping us informed during this disaster. These facts are from their website, which was helpfully updated just minutes before this writing.

59 districts in Kentucky are still under boil water advisories. This is an improvement; at least they have water.

It is probably a miracle that only twenty-five deaths have been confirmed as storm related, so far. People have died from hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning, fires, and ambulance delays. WKMS reports that several deaths have been caused by heart attacks that resulted from strenuous activities related to the storm. A couple of days ago, I came downstairs to let a dog out, and thought I was about to witness one. Bill walked into the kitchen, his face a pasty, blotchy, sweaty mess.

"What in God's name have you been doing?" I asked in a calm, composed voice, which didn't approach hysteria no matter what Bill would tell you.

"Just moving a few branches," he wheezed.

"If you have a heart attack, I'll kill you," I shared, in a moment of enlightened spiritual generosity.

The Kentucky National Guard has provided 320,000 meals to individuals and shelters and expects another 210,000 to be delivered soon, and has delivered 650,000 bottles of water so far with an additional 300,000 coming.

There are still folks in our downtown block who have been without power since January 27. Four of the homes pictured above are dark. But it looks a lot better than it did at this time last week:

And they did a fine job getting this pole straightened up and the wires re-strung:

(This morning.)

We have to tackle the dogs' side potty yard. (above) But that large limb is hanging on the neighbor's main electrical supply line, and then touching the chain link fence and all the other branches. Soooooo. No. We'll wait for the electric company guys to do their thing.
There have been reports of increased domestic violence. I suppose if you are the type to beat on your spouse and/or kids, you are smart enough to think that beating on them when they are cold will get your power turned on faster. Well, West Kentucky's two jails are on lock down, running on generators and using kerosene heaters, so if that sounds good...
But most of the stories are of the heroic efforts of the people working twenty-four hours to get the power back up. And of neighbors helping each other. Of the rapidity and effectiveness of this President's response, in stark contrast to the Katrina victims who are still waiting. WKMS interviewed a woman who had been displaced to Murray, KY, from New Orleans during Katrina. She loved life in Western Kentucky, so she stayed. She was singing the Red Cross's praise, in a shelter where her neighbor had brought her after days without power.

Now for the challenge from Sweden!
My friend Henrik, of the famous Play A While Whippets at said:
"Jag blev utmanad att publicera en bild under Mina Bilder på datorn och här kommer den bild som blev resultatet av det."
Or, in English, "I was challenged to publish a photo from my computer by taking the sixth photo in the sixth folder on my computer and above you can see the result." (You'll need to go to Henrik's blog to see his fun photo.) He challenged me to do the same, and since my desktop blew up from one of the power surges, here's the laptop photo:

This is one of my favorite pictures ever. It's Lindy Loo's siblings, Proper (now Topper), Leslie (now Rex), and Francis (now Elijah) on one of their early days in the great outdoors. How could that possibly be two and a half years ago.
Now I get to tag someone. Maybe I can introduce you to some great bloggers!
- Jenn, who is also writing her first novel and is a fine writer:
- Laurie, who is a professional writer in MN and has a beautifully crafted blog:
- Barry, whose blog was recently featured as a Blog of Note, after I had found him, and now his 545 followers are enjoying what I had been:
- my Bill, who doesn't promote his outstanding blog, so I will:

If you haven't visited these blogs, pour some coffee, or tea, or adult beverage and enjoy. Oh, and while you're at it...
hug your hounds


  1. That is just too many storms already! At least here is rain rain rain...but no storm yet!

  2. Hopefully it will get better in the next few days.

  3. We are glad most people are making it through okay. Oh and we of course visit Bill's blog. We love it.

  4. I understand that you guys are not supposed to eat the peanut butter in the FEMA packages. Oh well, they were probably put together during the reign of the previous tenant. (see, I didn't call him an idiot)


    glad you are doing a bit better. Hope all are warm and comfy.

  5. I saw that story Gussie saw too, about the PB! Things are looking better for sure, and we too are amazed at the low number of fatalities. We are hoping the power and water is restored for everyone soon. What a way to start a new year :(

  6. Boy oh boy, your town has sure been through the ringer!
    What an adorable photo!

    Love ya lots,
    Maggie and Mitch

  7. Those are some nasty storms. Hope that's the last of them.

    That's a cute photo!

  8. Hey! Great picture of the power pole in front of our house! I am pretty impressed with Paducah Power. Love the pictures of the dogs too! How cute!

  9. Great "before" and "meanwhile" photos and info. You have provided interesting information that one would not see on the national news. Sad to learn of the domestic violence.... Jerks will be jerks with or without "power"

  10. Amazing that all your snow is melted. Here (Outside louisville) we still have snow/ice/snow at least 4 inches deep on the ground, luckily it all fell off the trees creating even more danger the begining of the week. I came here from Kari & Kijsa's blog...

    LOVE the dogs. I have a picture of Whippets in my guest room, they are so regal and those puppies are a scream (how precious)

  11. Of the rapidity and effectiveness of this President’s response, in stark contrast to the Katrina victims who are still waiting.”

    xcuse me, the messiah most merciful President Obama hasn’t done a damn thing and I resent the hell out of anyone saying he has assisted in this disaster. The excellent response to this disaster has everything to do wih the character and the spirit of Western Kentuckians and nothing to do with anyone in Washington; but how would a Northeastern liberal artist relocation program transplant know anything about character and spirit.

  12. Ooooh, Anonymous - I'm so impressed by your intelligent comment - and even more by your cowardly hiding behind no name, not even a screen name that might give us an idea of what Deep South, crawling-out-from-under-a-rock, with your shotgun under your unwashed armpit, culturally deficient, misogynistic, gap-toothed, mouth breather you are - oh wait, I think I did that for you.

  13. You're kidding, right? Please tell me what "this President" did that was "rapid and effective". The majority of the work in this mess has been performed by local folks helping their neighbors, and local agencies having assistance from volunteers from other states. FEMA didn't arrive until late in the game, and Obama's "response" is so small as to be non-existent.

  14. Well, Art, since the federal government, through FEMA, can not come in until after a state's governor asks them to, maybe that's part of why they weren't there before the state help was. Just saying...

  15. What I find upsetting is that Obama did not declare Kentucky a major disaster area until Thursday. Beshear asked him to do it on Monday. I do not call that rapid response; why did it take him four days??

    State government has shown rapid response; federal has not had any involvement yet. So saying Obama's response has been rapid makes no sense.

    Janice Johansen

  16. Kate, I'm well aware that the Governor has to ask before the feds can come in. But I still want to know what is is you claim OBAMA has done that was "rapid and effective"?

  17. Art, I didn't claim anything. I spoke harshly to you (I think) because you (I think) hid behind the title 'Anonymous.' I just mentioned that the governor has to ask first, in case you didn't know - 'cause a lot of people don't. I was angered that someone would speak so rudely to Patience, especially someone who I've never seen post here before, which makes me wonder...

  18. Anonymous or Art or whoever you are....On the afternoon of the second day of the storm, the Governor called Washington and a federal representative volunteered to hand walk the disaster declaration through the proper channels. At 9pm that evening, President Obama called the Governor to discuss the severity of the situation. At 10pm (just one hour later) President Obama signed the emergency declaration and called the Governor back to tell him it was complete. The declaration allowed the Governor access to federal funds and relief that would normally not be possible. Personally, I think that's pretty darn good service from the federal government.

    In regards to your comment as to the character of the author of this couldn't be more off base. This woman is one of the most kind and generous people I have met in my entire life. Your comments were inexcusable.

    Character and spirit? you realize that most of the artists in Lowertown risked everything that they had to make this community work. That we as a group have contributed over 30 million dollars to the local economy coming in and remaking the shambles of Lowertown into a respectable and beautiful community.

    You can have your opinions and articulate them in a professional manner versus what you did. Shame on you.

  19. Anonymous/whoever...get over it. Obama won.
    And by local people helping out...I guess these transplanted artists have done nothing to reinvigorate the Paducah community. What have you done for your community?

  20. OK, let's clear this up. I am not the "Anonymous" poster, but another visitor to this blog, and I simply asked a question.

    Kate, thank you for your answer. I agree that the signing of an emergency declaration was a good thing. I will reserve my comments as to whether or not any other president would have done the same thing any differently.

    To Karen and Helene... you have no idea what I've done for this community in the 58 years that I've been here. But it's one hell of a lot more than remodeling a house and moving into it. I won't be back to this blog.

  21. I am a relocated artist who chose to move 1000 miles away from family and friends and commit my future to this city because of the energy and spirit I felt in Paducah. My investment in Paducah has not been a matter of competition with Paducahans or anyone else. In fact it has been because of their efforts that I came here; Art and others have helped make this city what it is, and I hope my contribution has only helped.

  22. Sounds like you are going to have your hands full for a while. It took us forever to clean up after our last big ice storm.
    Be safe, and take comfort in the fact that cowards hide behind anonymous comments. The GWB lovers just haven't gotten over their fall from disgrace.

  23. Art,
    I don't live anywhere near Paducah and my response was to "anonymous/whoever." So you are right, I don't know anything about you but I wasn't addressing you. If anonymous is not you, you needn't have taken offense. I have found that many times the people that complain the loudest are those that do nothing...and I was directing my anger at the snide "liberal..." comment of the poster

  24. Goodness Gracious Patience, what the heck happened here?

  25. Oh my...did we start that with the comment about peanut butter? Maybe we do bark too loud. We are very sorry for instigating the A. Nonnie Mouse comments.


  26. not even getting in on the political comments, other than to say that it would be nice if we had the declaration for individual help (like after katrina), for those who really need it! :)

    you live right down the road from me...i'm on the south side of b-way! so, howdy, neighbor!

    it has been a nightmare, hasn't it? my power came back up on wednesday, and has been out a couple times since then. since those outages have been fairly short, i have assumed that they were connecting others, which would require them to shut down the grid. our next challenge is the wind advisory over the next couple days, forecast is for up to 45 mph winds. *sigh*

  27. "the rapidity and effectiveness of this President's response"

    Perhaps it would be best to edit that statement. His response may have been rapid, but the evidence of effectiveness is, well, underwhelming.

  28. Whew! Some comments! I saw the mention of your article on IList and wanted to hear more about what you guys went through in LowerTown. I wrote about my experience, too, and took lots of pictures:

    I was without power for a full week (damage to my box) which was not fun, but I was so grateful that our water supply was OK, unlike the many towns who had to deal with contaminated water. My experience was of wonderful neighbors pitching in and helping each other. There are still a lot of people without power out in the rural areas and the clean up is an enormous job, yet all of this could have been much worse, so we have much to be thankful for...


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