Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Anniversary of The Ohio Wind Storm of 2008 - Hurricane Ike

This photo, “One More Image of Hurricane Ike” is copyright (c) 2009 born1945 and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
As Tropical Storm Gordon begins its trek inland, I can't help but think back to Hurricane Ike and the Ohio Wind Storm of 2008. Of course, meteorologists aren't forecasting the remnants of Gordon to be "another Ike" (we're only expecting a bit of rain at most), it still conjures up memories because of the close time frame.

When the remnants of Hurricane Ike slammed into southwest Ohio on September 14, 2008, my family and millions of other Ohioans were wholly unprepared. With wind gusts up to 75 miles per hour — equivalent to the sustained winds of a category 1 hurricane — the property damage and power outages were substantial. There were a total of 2.6 million outages in Ohio alone and many customers were out for over a week. It was one of the largest outages caused by a natural disaster in the history of the Midwest. In addition to power outages, over $560 million in damages were reported across the state.

My son was only one at the time and while he doesn't remember, I remember like it was yesterday.

The Ohio Wind Storm of 2008 began on a Sunday morning. I awoke, noticing that it was incredibly windy. I knew that the remnants of Ike had arrived, but I never expected things to get as wild as they did. It's quite amazing what wind can do.

Around two in the afternoon, I set off to take my husband to work. While driving down Interstate 70 West towards Huber Heights, the wind was considerably strong. It was difficult to keep my car in my lane and I remember thinking, If it's this bad for my sedan, imagine what it's like for high-profile vehicles! I made a mental note to stay the hell away from any semi-trucks. As we approached our exit, there were corn husks flying all over the highway.

I dropped my husband off at his job and drove to see my parents. It was, after all, still a typical Sunday. This Sunday, however, would prove to be far beyond typical.

By the time I arrived at their home, the wind had picked up significantly. I took my son inside, fighting the wind, and called my sister. She was attending X-Fest 13 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. She was fine but she said that the wind was insane — the fairgrounds are on a dirt plot so dirt was blowing everywhere. I told her it'd probably be best if she just came home, but she decided to stick it out. It wasn't long after our phone conversation that she called back to let me know that Candlebox had just finished up and X-Fest was cut short due to high winds. She was heading home.

Almost immediately after I got off the phone with her the second time, I was staring out the window, watching the trees sway and bend like the flailing inflatable tube men, when I witnessed my mother's steel patio chairs blow down the driveway and into the road. I ran out to get them and stacked them for added weight — and they still blew down a second time. I had to tie them down.

Conveniently (sarcasm, for those of you who aren't fluent), my parents' landlord was doing work on their living room window and had placed Plexiglas as a temporary fix. The Plexiglas kept flying out of the window — over and over and over again — until my dad finally taped it down.

Then, the power cut out.

We thought it would be temporary, but what we didn't realize was that thousands were already without power in the area. I decided that I would head to the other side of town to see if they had power and maybe grab us all a bite to eat. Terrible idea. The other side of town did have power but every single restaurant line was so far back that traffic was at a standstill. It was a disaster. McDonald's actually put employees outside to take vehicle orders along with the intercoms to move people through the line faster.

At this point, the number of outages was rising and the race to find ice was on.

My parents had just gone grocery shopping the day before, so my dad scrambled to find ice to save any food that they could until the power was restored. Ice was sold out nearly everywhere within the city. He had to drive nine miles for two bags of ice and even then, his efforts proved futile because they weren't out of power for one day or even two days...

...they were out of power for a full five days.

All of the food in the refrigerator and freezer spoiled. They showered in the dark. They got ready for work by candlelight. I offered for them to come to my place until their power was restored but they declined. My parents are troopers. Luckily, it was mid-September, so the weather was fair and they didn't suffer in extreme heat or extreme cold — that is, until the Ohio Ice Storm of 2011; that's another story for another day.

So, it was an interesting day to say the least. I'm the type of person that loves and respects nature and it's — often deadly — force, so I was absolutely fascinated by the natural phenomenon. As we come up on the 10 year anniversary of the Ohio Wind Storm of 2008, I think it's important that we recognize the importance of being prepared in cases of inclement weather.

Where were you during Hurricane Ike? Was your area impacted by the remnants?

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