Archive for Thursday, January 6, 2005

How did Baldwin fare this time with ice?

January 6, 2005

What else can you talk about but the weather? We certainly found some this week. We can't hardly complain, either, because we were way over due.

Still, there's nothing good that can be said about freezing rain, ice storms, a wintry mix or whatever else you want to call this nastiness that's fallen on Baldwin City. And, of course, it can't help but conjure up memories of three years ago when we got hammered really bad with a coating of ice. The last time it happened, the Signal was published on Wednesday so we beat the weather. It didn't look like that was going to be the case this time around with a Thursday publication and I was a bit nervous as a result.

With all that in mind, we've all been keeping a close eye on the weather and what-not since the weather forecasters started predicting this days ago. Were they going to be right, for a change, or once again leave us scratching our heads about how they get paid so much for being so wrong.

Well, this time, I'd say they were right about in the middle. Yes, we had freezing rain, but maybe it wasn't quite as bad a picture as they painted. But, I'm also writing this midway through the storm and hope that I don't regret these words. Precipitation is falling, but it has changed to snow, which I'm hoping means we're done with the freezing rain. There's nothing I hate more than that.

Likewise, midway through the ice storm of 2005, Baldwin City has fared much better than last time when a lot of the city was without power for days. Yes, my heart skipped a beat Tuesday around 5 p.m. when the lights flickered. But it was OK here in the office.

I did jump in the truck when I saw all three fire engines start bolting out the doors of the fire station. But, by the time I was ready to head out after them, two of them stopped and only one went on. I figured that meant false alarm, so I went back to putting pages together, trying to get as much done while power was still on.

After awhile, I stuck my head into Hair and Nail to see what was going on. That's when I found out about the first power problem from the storm. Someone had just gone by where the line was down and said sparks were flying. So, I jumped back in the truck and headed toward the Lodge.

I could tell quickly that something was up. It looked like lights were out and -- oh, my golly goodness, say it ain't so -- THE traffic light was out. In fact, as near as I could tell all of north Baldwin and east Baldwin was without power. But, when driving back to the office, the lights were all on downtown.

I went back to work on the pages. For one thing, I wanted to get as many done as possible. For another, I didn't have any where to go. The power was out at my place, so even though I wanted to watch the Sugar Bowl game, I couldn't.

When I got to the point around 8 p.m. that I'd done just about all I could do, I went to check. The lights were on to the north. So, I went to the place and started watching the game. I had only watched for about 20 minutes when everything went dark. Oh, boy.

So, back in the truck it was and back to the office. On the way, I saw the problem. Fire trucks and utility trucks were converged on the new antique mall downtown. I could see smoke billowing from behind the building. But, that didn't last long and the crowd dispersed. Light was restored, so it was back to the game.

Wouldn't you know it, though, it was halftime. Worse than that, the game had turned into a blowout and it wasn't the Big 12 Conference doing the blowing out. I watched for awhile more, but then went to bed.

I knew I had lights when I awoke, but found out once at the office that there must have been another outage Tuesday night. All our computers were down. That's not a good thing on production day.

But, I got them all back up and running. Then I caught a huge break by seeing a utility crew just down the block. I needed pictures. But, even luckier than that was Terry McKinney, utility director, was there. I got the low-down on what had happened over night so I could do a story. With his work load, it would have been impossible to catch up with him Wednesday.

So, with pictures and story on the weather and electricity in hand, it was back to getting the pages out. Did we get everything done before the power went out again?

If you're reading this, I'd say yes.

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