Weekend monster storm puts county residents in survival mode

Authored by Jim Langham on Jan 10, 2014

When Berne’s Monica Smith heard warnings of an impending major storm, she decided to beat the crowd last Saturday morning; in fact it was shortly after 7 a.m. when she headed for stores to get supplies in preparation, just in case.
Little did she realize at the time that she would go through a power outage, phone outage and spend several days inside as a result of one of the most massive snowstorms to hit the area in over 30 years.
“The storm was late arriving compared to what was predicted, so I stayed home from church on Sunday morning because I thought things would get worse during the service,” noted Smith. “We lost all power, including heat, through the night Sunday into Monday morning. Electricity went out around 2:30 a.m. and returned around 7:30 a.m. on Monday.
“We had been without our home phone and internet since Sunday night and they were fully restored at 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday,” added Smith.
But Smith’s hands have been anything but idle during her homebound days. She has been busy preparing baked goods and candles for her booth at the Adams County Winter Market which will be held at the 4-H dining hall in Monroe this Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“I’ve still been baking and making candies over these days,” said Smith. “Since I only sell fresh ‘just made’ food at the market, the goodies that I have frozen will be shared with friends, neighbors and family. It’s been relaxing having these extra days off from work. I call it my, ‘extended Christmas vacation.’”
“A sea of snow waves” is what Kathy Fiechter sees these days as she looks out the window of her rural home. Fiechter had been homebound since Sunday noon and was still enjoying her time at home on Tuesday afternoon.
Like many of the over 2,500 Adams County homes that lost power overnight on Sunday, Fiechter recalled electricity going off at 10:10 p.m. on Sunday and returning at 3:15 a.m. on Monday.
“I guess if you have to be without power, it might as well be during sleep hours,” said Fiechter. “However I was so thankful that it came back on because the temperature in the house had dropped significantly during that time. The hot water to the kitchen froze up early Monday afternoon so we put two space heaters under the sink. It finally broke loose today,” Fiechter said on Tuesday.
Kandi Stutzman was just eight-years-old during the Blizzard of ’78. Still she remembers playing in the snow, seeing drifts taller than her dad’s truck and not going to school for weeks.
“As a parent you look at things in a different way. You think of all the things you might need in case the storm really did get bad,” said Stutzman from her rural home on Tuesday. “My older kids made fun of me for having four gallons of milk, but with everyone being here, I’ve had to put a ration on the milk that we do have.
“My daughter lives on her own, but with the possibility of the power being out for an extended period of time and no alternative heat source, she opted to stay with us along with her dog, Molly,” continued Stutzman. “My son has a miniature pony and some goats so we’ve had to Make sure they stayed warm and well.”
Like many area residents, the Stutzmans (husband, Joe) have spent timing staying warm, playing games and watching movies.
“The best part for me as a mom has been having everyone together. It’s been like an extended Christmas morning at our house. The Blizzard of 2014 will hold many special memories,” added Stutzman.
Rural Geneva resident Carmen Puterbaugh has also felt the responsibility of caring for animals, including chickens and pets.
“When I check my chickens they look at me like this is my fault,” mused Puterbaugh. “Now I know where the term, ‘mad hens,’ comes from. The snow has been beautiful, but I guess that depends on whether or not you like being out in it.
“The dog refuses to go out until she has to go so bad that she can’t hold it anymore,” continued Puterbaugh. “The cat runs to the window and watches her. That is probably the most exciting thing that has happened around here. I spend most of my time on the couch wrapped up in blankets and watching television.”
One of the most unique experiences has been that of well-known marathon runner Justin Gillette, a fixture at the annual Swiss Days Race, who continued to run his routine of 16 miles through the blizzard conditions. Justin compared running in snow to that of running in sand.
“You are battling against an extra resistance which strengthens the smaller stability muscles in your legs,” said Gillette. “In training, you are always looking for positive results. I have yet to see any positives that come from running outside in negative degree weather.
“One trick I use to stay motivated in winter running is a distances versus degrees game I play,” added Gillette. “I try to run further than that day’s temperatures.”
Kelly Ehinger, director of the Adams County Library System said that the library is experiencing at least a three-day closure, the longest in many years. The librarian said that she periodically checks the book drop, but noted that library services are still available online with e-books (Overdrive and Tumblebrooks), audio book downloads and free music downloads.
“If anyone should have items that were due during the days we are closed, we backdate check-ins from during that time,” said Ehinger.
Berne Chamber of Commerce director Melissa Skinner seemingly summed up the feeling of most area residents with her concerns during the more dangerous aspects of the latest winter blast, with the exception that her family also cares for a deer herd.
“I remember waking up Monday morning around 1 a.m. to a beeping sound,” said Skinner. “It was our backup sump pump alarm. The electricity was off due to the storm. My husband was in bed with the flu, so I got up and turned on the gas fireplace to keep the house warm.
“I was extremely concerned about our deer and their water, but he felt better the next day and was able to take care of them. Our son’s friend came over to spend the night on Monday. We spent Monday and Tuesday reviewing their states and capitals for a test they will have when they go back to school,” continued Skinner.
“I do not like missing work, but our driveway was completely blown shut,” added Skinner. “I would not ask those that work for and with me to travel out in bitter cold like that. Their wellbeing is extremely important to me.”


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