Thursday, February 4, 2010

Winter Storms

The winter storms of 2010 spared our reservation. They hit south and north of us. Those folks were without electricity and had to deal with ice galore and snow, but we are no strangers to natural disasters. Back on December 12, 2007, the reservation, or a good portion of it, did not have any electricity. In the area, there were 21,442 Westar Electric customers out of electricity.

Before that day though and with the storm fast approaching, we got a room at the casino. Our daughter Martie and the grandchildren went over and stayed, but Voncile and I stayed at our house. I woke up a couple of times during the night and seen that we had lights yet, but in the morning it was dark so I knew it had gone out and it did at 6:15 a.m. It lasted six longs days and some went 11 days without electricity.

We stayed at our home, using the heat off the kitchen stove during most of that time. It sure was an inconvenience for sure. We modern Indians have become used to creature comforts such as propane heat, lights, showers and television. It sure is rough going with electricity. I’m guilty too! In the old days, you had to get out and cut wood or you would freeze or you had to put up food from the garden or you would starve in the winter.

Anyway, outside the ice had formed on the trees and branches started to break off. It sounded like a gun going off. I stood in front of the house and that sound repeated many times, mostly because we live near a large timber. Then the trees in my yard started breaking off and that made me feel bad. I’ve planted many trees over the years and now they were damaged. The only thing left to do was to pick up the branches when this storm broke, access the damage and start over. In Sabetha, up the road, some trees 3-4’ thick were up-rooted, so I guess it could have been much worse.

All of the senior sites were without heat since their systems are all electric. Eventually, over 300 people from the rez stayed at the casino and another 100 stayed at the bingo hall. Many didn’t have any money. They should have delivered the per-caps there and the casino would have profited off this natural disaster. Tribal funds picked up three meals a day and the rooms for the people, which was good. It eventually worked out on our reservation that year as it will for people having it rough this year.

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