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Monday, January 18, 2010

Last weeks wind storm.

There is no way to be totally prepared for every situation that arises but at least planning for the minimal response does pay off.

Winters in the Mat-Su valley in Alaska are relatively mild as far as snow fall and temps go. It seems like about every ten years we get a heavy wind storm the first part of the year. Well it looks like this year was one of those years.

It started for us last Sunday, Jan 10th when I left work at 3 pm. to go home. The wind had been increasing all day and now in the evening it was gusting at around 50 mph. Daughter and grandson left around 7 pm. to go back to Ft. Richardson in Anchorage and the wind was almost a steady 50 mph. My wife and I watched a little TV. About 11pm the power went out. The wind was shaking the house by now. We went to bed. My wife woke me at 5am Monday morning when the power came back on but our gas furnace didn't come on. Mmmm not good. The motor had seized. Got out the kerosene heater and a small propane heater and fired them up.. Have three floors to heat to keep water pipes from freezing. Called the heating company at 0808 and found we were # 50 on the list... not good. Heating man shows up at 2 pm. Confirms the motor on the furnace has seized. Remove it, call in the part number... old furnace... part availability, we will see. By now the wind is up to 80 to 85 mph gusts. Repair man leaves. He calls back in an hour, still looking for parts. Decide to go and dig truck out and go to store and get some electric heaters. Make that run. Many people in the store talking about the power being out and them having to use gas stove ovens for heat. Get back to house and find the repair man has located motor and will be over tomorrow around 10 am to install. Oh well, get electric heaters set up.. one upstairs and the other down stairs. Around 10 or 11 pm the power goes out again... so much for electric heaters. Start the process of moving kerosene heater floor to floor all night. Tuesday morning, power comes on at 6 am. Looking out the window, the Jeep is buried on all 4 sides up to the windows, snow has drifted up to second story front window, snow has blown in around kitchen window piling up on sill.. TG.. not warm enough to melt yet... At 10 am the repair man shows up with new motor...ooops... motor shaft too short... repair man goes back to warehouse. He is back at 2pm with the right motor, up and running by 3pm. At 5 pm the hot water tank pressure valve opens and 44 gal of water on the floor.... does it 2 more times in the next 8 hrs... TG for shop vac! Takes most of Wednesday to vacuum the carped floor in the garage where the furnace and hot water heater are.

Needles to say it took until Thursday evening to get the Jeep unburied.. had to use pick ax to break the drifted snow up.

Just having a source of heat, kerosene heater, propane heater and warm clothes we were comfortable. The back up electric heaters were nice as long as we had electricity. For those who ask why no wood stove, unless you own the land to get your wood off from, it is very expensive to purchase. There is a land shortage here believe it or not. What the feds don't own the state does. Our retirement home will have wood backup heat.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading your posting. Sorry you got hit by snow and wind. I used to have baseboard heat in thehouse I used to own, when power went out, I would pull the burner unit out of the oil furnace and light the weed burner and stuff it in the opening to keep the water in the boiler up to a comfortable temperature. It was not a pretty fix, but at minus 56 degrees, who cares? Just be sure you have a means of fastening the weed burner head so it won't slip out while you are not there. I used old trapping snares, LOL.
Glad you made it through with good planning and preparedness.

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