Historic Snowstorm: The Price of Paradise?

Here's the story of what our family went through during the recent historic snow storm that rocked the Emmaus Patch.

I can still remember the day I drove by the two-story white farmhouse in Vera Cruz with the for sale sign in front.

It was late spring and there were flowers in bloom everywhere. “Wow,” I thought, “That place looks like paradise.” I was on my way to work, and running late as usual, so I kept driving.

One the way home, I looked a bit more. Oh my! There’s a creek next to the house. And a barn…and that cute little building must have been an outhouse. And, the trees…look at those BIG beautiful maple trees.

Fast-forward about three years. Past summers of muddy children frolicking in that creek. Past the installation of the tree swing in that giant silver maple. Past the addition of the Belgian sheep dog to our clan. Past the power outage and flooded basement of Hurricane Irene. Stop when you hit “Snowtober.”

My husband was driving amid the falling trees when the power, which had been clicking on and off all day, went off for what would turn out to be three very long, cold, dark days. He had left us to go in search of diesel for our oil tank because our oil delivery hadn’t yet arrived and we feared the oil might not get to us during the storm.

We didn’t figure on needing the heat before Halloween (who did?) and the tank was pretty low. He was purchasing enough fuel to heat the house for two days. By then, he figured, the oil truck will surely be by to top us off.

My husband was thankful that the UPS man had dropped off the chains he’d ordered for the car before he left the house. See? We were preparing for winter…we just weren’t prepared for it to arrive so early and with such gusto.

He returned to a dark home, a decapitated silver maple tree and a basement filling with water (again). No power. No sump pump.

We loaded our brood into the car (minus the sheep dog) and headed out to Trexlertown to the Tractor Supply store. They had to have something that could help us.

A manual pump for the basement was our secret desire. Generators and kerosene heaters had been gone from every store in the Lehigh Valley for hours.

We returned home several hundred dollars later, with – cue inspirational music – a gasoline powered pump! We could do something to fight this snow monster!

I donned yellow waders (can you picture it?) and headed into the basement swimming pool to receive the hose my husband was threading through the window and miraculously the swimming pool was no more. (A process we repeated on a regular schedule to stay ahead of the tide.)

That night, after we put the boys to bed upstairs in our room nestled under piles of blankets, my husband and I sat on the front porch, wearing just about every article of clothing we owned and still stinking of the gas exhaust from the pump.

We were each sipping a glass of wine – him white, me red. We looked up above the snow-covered, fractured tree line. And, sure enough, there they were.

The stars…all those beautiful stars that so amazed us when we first moved into the house. My husband looked at me and said, “This is still paradise.”

We’re all back home now after spending a night sleeping on the warm floor of nearby . Our power returned Tuesday morning. The fridge has been emptied, cleaned and restocked. Fifth load of laundry (and counting) is currently spinning in the dryer. We’re still waiting for that oil delivery and have about a day of heat and hot water left before we need to tackle that problem.

My husband, the boys and the sheep dog are all sleeping as I write this, sitting next to the propane heater that arrived on our doorstep yesterday – another few hundred bucks expense chalked up to Snowtober. At least we’ll be ready for Snovember.


MS November 02, 2011 at 03:08 PM
I think we can probably each write that same exact story, only I did not have water in my basement and luckily, even though our new boiler is still not connected, we used our very large wood stove to keep the house warm, the freezer is still froze and the oil lanterns purchased this summer for $10 each came in mighty handy. I probably don't want to play uno again for a very long time!
Tina Schantz November 02, 2011 at 07:19 PM
Our story is just about the same. We live in Vera Cruz also, we didn't have water in the basement either, but we had to carry water in buckets from the rain barrel for use in the bathroom, no electric - no water pump. As I was hauling those buckets at 6:30 am through the snow, before I had to go to work, I thought of our ancestors that did this on a daily basis. I am thankful for the conveniences of modern life and was reminded to conserve more than ever. I have lots of laundry to catch up on, but I didn't mind hanging the first load of jeans out on the line to dry early this morning, even though it was a bit chilly. I remember noticing the stars in the sky when I was trying to survey the damage to our maple tree. I must say we don't have too much damage, a few branches to trim and chip with a borrowed chainsaw and chipper from good neighbors.
Jennifer Marangos November 03, 2011 at 01:42 AM
Thanks for sharing your stories Missy and Tina. Missy -- our game of choice was Battlehship. And Tina -- I can totally appreciate the hauling of water for the bathroom. A light bulb finally went on for us and we started to pump the water from the basement into buckets for the bathroom. When life hands you lemons...


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