2020 Storm Story
by Joe Buckles
  • April 2, 2022
  • 2 mins story
1. Maybe you have an idea for a story. Feel free to tell that story.


Memorial Day weekend, 2020


Like everyone else, our lights flickered twice, dimmed, and went out.


I routinely participate in various Ham Radio transmitter bands. I have battery backup and a small generator for emergency uses. My Davis weather system is independent and is able to give quite accurate weather information. I shuddered. Remembering the fierce Columbus Day storm in Portland in 1963 can still give me a nightmare or two! The barometric pressure was dropping like a rock below 28.5 meaning that more strong wind would be on the way long before this storm would be over.


It was time to begin to take stock of our reserves. I thought I had plenty of gasoline to run the little 2 Kw generator. It would power the refrigerator and freezer, some lights, the computer systems, and the phone system ( which was already dead). We keep an old fashioned Princess Phone on hand because it can ring through the system independently from digital line phones. Our cell phones had ceased to operate since the repeater systems were down.


YAY for Ham Radio Emergency Communications Systems, of which I am a certified member with our Jefferson County Police Department. I cautiously stuck my head outside to see if my antennas were still up. So far, so good. I contacted the Oregon Emergency Network which was very active with emergency traffic like house fires, personal injuries, and trees/limbs having punctured rooftops leaving homes with no protection from the heavy rainfall. What a mess. I checked in quickly with “NO TRAFFIC” which means I was all clear and was safe – for the time being.


I assured my wife, Bonnie, that come daybreak I would start our generator. Eventually I had every extension cord we owned connected to a spiderweb maze alternating between the refrigerator, the freezer, and even the toaster. We had a candle light breakfast; how romantic.


I would wait until our freezer would cycle off, then switch the main generator power cord to our refrigerator. This system worked well since I knew that refrigeration devices will hold their temperature for at least 24 hours – if you keep the door SHUT. Hey, I had to open it once in a while just testing to see if it was still cold.


Three looong days of interesting survival techniques resulted in no injuries to us, one car with siphoned gas nearly depleted, and much thankfulness for the blessing of restored power. We got in our 4 wheel drive Chevy Blazer with three empty gas cans to venture out for a personal look at things. Nobody in the area seemed to be open for business, yet.


I lost count of how many plastic garbage cans, kiddie wading pools, rooftops, etc., were upside down – far from their original place.


Maybe I had better get that Pacific Power bill paid. Right NOW!

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