Gary grew up in Massachusetts and I was raised in Kentucky. His winters were much harsher than mine, but we both have been around snow and ice most of our lives. We had sleds to go zooming down hills, and Gary had skiing and snowboarding. We had cars with 4-wheel or front wheel drive, and for those extreme storms, chains for tires. We had appropriate clothing that would keep us warm for hours and shoes that didn’t freeze our toes. We had alternate heat sources like fireplaces and kerosene heaters. We had insulated houses which included water pipes properly protected. Our city and county crews were prepared for the weather and started preparing as soon as temperatures in the fall started dropping. We had road crews that salted and scraped the minute the snow or ice started. We grew up in areas of the country that are prepared for snow, sleet, freezing rain, frozen fog, and any other winter mix that Mother Nature could throw at us.
It’s so cold!
However, we now live in Louisiana. Those that we know from our past lives in the North are astonished by the fact that a “little” snow and ice has shut the area down. Basically, the South is NOT equipped to deal with such temperatures. As I’m sitting here in my home that has not lost electricity and is sitting at 69 degrees, I’m somewhat cold. This is the normal temperature that I sit the house temperature on because it was the year Gary was born and I’m a Cancer so it makes me happy. Plus the electric company advised people to not overload the system with turning up thermostats and running electric heaters. So if this is the normal temperature for my house, why am I cold? My house is not designed for temperatures below freezing and especially not in the teens and lower. My 1950’s cottage still has its original windows. They are not double pained or insulated like new windows or windows further North. They are single pain and cold. Our beautiful hardwood floors are over a non-heated and non-insulated concrete slab. Our floors are cold to walk on. Luckily, I always have warm socks and fuzzy house shoes to keep my always cold feet toasty. Because fireplaces are rarely used in the South, ours was refinished to be decorative so it is not useful during these cold times. Our attic is for storage and his little insulation. We have a small electric heater in our bedroom that we turn on before bed to take the chill off the bedroom. We have an electric fireplace in the den, but it keeps tripping the circuit breaker. We bundle up and make the most of these cold days.
While writing this, we are on day 2 of no water. Again, why should water be an issue? The water mains in this area are old and every time the temperatures drop, there are breaks. With temperatures this low, the city and parish crews can not keep up with all the breaks. They are doing their best. I see them working all day every day. Looking out the windows of my house which is on a corner, there have been FIVE breaks within my sight. Two of those breaks have required water being turned off at my house. The first one was just for the afternoon and the second, well, we still have no water. When we did have water, it was a trickle and no water at all in my toilet. Thank goodness my sister, who lives in NJ, reminded me to fill the bathtub full of water so I could flush. However, that’s about gone so it looks like a day of hauling snow in from outside. Again, all of the water issues go back to lack of insulation. Louisiana was not designed for extreme temperatures like this.
The last issue I’ll address that seems to puzzle people is the lack of food, water, and gas. When you have whole sections of highways and roadways closed, there is no way to get necessities into the area. There was a section of I-20 that was closed from Monroe to Shreveport which is about 100 miles. There were bridges closed that led to main sections of the city. People could not get in or out of the city. Our raised roadways were frozen and impassable. We do not have road crews that are standing by to scrape and salt huge sections. Our crews are small and salt availability is minimal. They salt the bridges to keep them from freezing, but we all know salt only does so much. The road crews focus on the most important areas and try to stay on top of it the best they can. There is only so much that can be done when winter storms like this hit only once every several years. I believe the last storm like this was in 1983. The grocery stores and other stores in the area have been closed due to people not being able to get out of their homes and lack of electricity and/or water. One of the local grocery stores did remain open, but only two people were able to get into the store and it quickly dwindle to very little items. Businesses in the area are starting to reopen and supplies are slowly making their way back into the area. Normalcy is within reach.
Mother Nature has not been easy on Louisiana this last year! We have been hit by 3 major hurricanes and 2 tropical storms that destroyed huge chunks of the state, a couple of tornados, and now a winter storm that has taken out the remaining parts of the state. However, Louisiana is strong, our communities are supportive, and as always, we will come back!