Tuesday, January 16, 2007

LET THERE BE LIGHT

Something other than candles or flames from wood. Not that there's anything wrong with tree butchery, especially when ice falls for three days and more than 30,000 people in Springfield still don't have power.

The storm hit Friday and held the city through Sunday. On Tuesday there was sunshine, at least for a while. In between there was ice, layer upon layer of rain that hit the trees and stuck fast. Because it had been warm -- 50s and 60s into Friday, just before the storm struck -- there was fog at night, and if you stood outside for more than a minute you could see through the shroud as ice-burdened trees gave way. You could hear them creaking and losing limbs with a sound like the rip of a well-worn flannel shirt, followed by a snap and the crystal sound of shattered ice. If you stayed outside long enough you could make yourself believe there was some sort of lumbering monster out there in the fog, stomping through the dark.

This storm was a freak, a super slo-mo disaster that seemed to arrest all motion and sense. It moved at a glacial pace, dropping devastation onto the natural order, but it left most of the unnatural intact. The roads didn't freeze over; the only hazards to driving were the obscenely amputated tree limbs, and the occasional power line they brought down (most of the lines stayed in place, almost looking festive with their streamers of frozen rain).

Most natural disasters are frightening, and should be; they serve notice that compared to a whirling cloud that touches ground, we are little more than pissants. The ice storm of 2007 will be remembered as a disaster without terror.

No terror, but plenty of panic. Because we knew the storm was coming, we planned without thinking, buying perishables to put into refrigerators that stopped working, or forgetting batteries for the flashlights. There was scant chance to die in this storm; the biggest threat to life was getting bonked on the head by a falling tree limb. Mostly the storm was an annoyance, a drag: No lights? No Internet? No cable?

The upside to the storm was humanity. People who live next door to each other had the chance to become neighbors, and often did, offering food or a warm fireplace. Those who would gouge the needy with storm's-a-coming prices were outnumbered by honest brokers who just wanted to help their fellow humans in a crisis.

The media did its job, and for the most part did it well. Some reporters said it looked like a "war zone" outside, ignoring the lack of bomb craters and buildings pockmarked by bullets, but most played it straight. The best reporting happened when the message was undiluted. Radio stations devolved into community message boards, passing along information on shelters, generators, hot food. One local announcer, best known for being a divider, rose above to be a broadcaster, spending dozens of hours at his post. Juliana Goodwin of the News-Leader -- a delightful woman, and don't you forget it -- reported on the announcer's work, and how he will remember "the incredible love people have shown each other." Perhaps he will recall that love the next time he's spewing hate.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know how VDJ pulled that off since the station has been off the air for days.

Anonymous said...

The AM version has been on throughout, I believe ...

Amy said...

I do believe the local media did a stellar job getting the word out. Although, I am deeply disappointed in the lack of real news radio around here ... especially during a situation like this. I'm also disappointed that we aren't seeing more stories on CU. I get the impression that they're using fuzzy math about the numbers of people who actually DO have power. Granted, it can't be easy in a situation where it comes on and then goes back off.

Anonymous said...

Nice story, Red. I remember writing.

AK

Anonymous said...

Before you start your name calling you should remember how you set Vince up on your TV show.

Rather cheap shot from someone who holds himself up the way you do.

Also thought it was kindda small you don't mention his name.

Tacky Ron, you're better than that...

Anonymous said...

The caption on the photo in the News Leader read: "Radio host Vincent David Jericho, who worked about 35 hours straight after the storm struck, gets a visit Monday from his wife, Denise, and dog, Belle, at the KSGF studio.'

My question was which one was the dog and which one was Vincent David John Jacob Jingle Himerschmit Shotenkirk Shimmy Shimmy Ko-ko Bop Ramma
Lama Ding Dong Do Wah Diddy Diddy Gidyup Ooomp Pompa Oooomp Pompa Mow Mow
Hiyo Silver Away Banana Fanna Fo Fanna De Doo Doo Doo De Da Da Da (That's all I want to
say to you)Gabba Gabba Hey Gabba Hey (Now you're one of us) two all-beef patties special
sauce lettuce cheese pickles onion on a sesame seed bun, Itsy Bittsy Tiny Weeny Yellow Polka
Dot Joiner-Kersee Sammy Davis Junior Jericho's wife.

Anonymous said...

CU has gone from 75,000 customers out to less than 20,000 today, according to media reports. Oh, wait, let's make that 74,443 out at the worst to 20,015 out today...does that help you? What difference does it make? NO ONE CARES.

Anonymous said...

You know Anon 12:46, when you're without power, you care.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Ron. Nice to see that you still have some less than pleasant lurkers at your site.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I do't care for the guy but the shot at the wife is cheap, really cheap, given the circumstanses.
And the Cu shots are unfounded as well.
Talk to the guys working outside and ask them about fuzzzy math.
Cu can know down to a gnats-ass how many are w/o power. So give them a break. Weare all stressed and many of us still without power.

Anonymous said...

CU reported at this afternoon's media briefing that 23,000 people are without power, down from 25,000 on Tuesday. Uhhh, make that 23,002 people today without power,24, 996 yesterday...

PS If CU is fudging numbers, dontcha think they could do better than 75,000 out at the worst point (out of 100,000 customers)????

Busplunge said...

Unless you don't have any power, like my 79 year old mother, it doesn't make any difference.

The CU guys and tree trimmers came down my street at 2AM on Saturday, using battery operated chainsaws so they wouldn't wake people up.

They were courteous, polite and friendly. And they gave me very good advice on repairing mast head at my son's house. (I got a licensed electrician to do it).

We have a gas cook stove and gas logs in the fire place. And a gas hot water heater. So, son, his wife, two grandkids, daughter, her husband, and my wife and mother made it through the storm.

I put the coleman lantern on a ladder outside the front picture window and we played board games all evening long. It was fun. Well, we had a lot of food and beer too.

It is almost over, my Mom is still without power, she is still with us. I took out to all the thrift stores today, goodwill, DAV, salvation army, we ran her regular route. And I got to park in the handicapped spaces! (she has a blue windshield placard).

Maybe her lights will be on tomorrow.

John Stone said...

I am back up after almost exactly 108 very cold hours ... stinking as bad as my place is ... I have one photo up ... more to follow. I will have comments on VD(j) ...but suffice to say that communications during this mess stank to high heaven from all city officials. There will have to be a post mortem on this.

Nicely written piece Ronbo ...

John Stone said...

There were a lot of fly-by-nighters around town ... but the worst case of gouging I heard of was a long time local company .. Southerland's Lumber who was at one point charging $11.00 per gallon of kerosene. I understand that the president of the company offered an explanation ... but whatever it was ... bar none ... I won't buy it if this is true -- and I think it is.

Anonymous said...

I heard - from an employee - that someone went into a Supercenter, bought out the stock of candles and then hung out in the candle department and tried to resell the candles at a hefty profit. Management wasn't impressed.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 1210 PM Jan 17...If you are wanting to see
the local announcer's name so much here it is:
Vincent Schattenkirk. Now, are you happy?

Anonymous said...

Yo John Stone. Apparently during your time huddled in your cave you missed the twice daily pressers.
"...but suffice to say that communications during this mess stank to high heaven from all city officials."
That is B.S.
Your out of the loop.
Or where you ever in it?

John Stone said...

"Yo John Stone. Apparently during your time huddled in your cave you missed the twice daily pressers."

Which consisted of ... well ... we are aware of the problem and working on it ... and that is about it. Did you hear from the City Mgr? I didn't. Did you hear from any of the Council? I didn't. Did you hear anything from CU other than we don't know nothing 'bout nothing - or if we do we ain't telling - other than a few numbers, which as I pointed out above were, and are today, misleading?

Anonymous said...

Whatever you old bitterman. I know for a fact that not only is City Utilities working their asses off-for nearly seven days straight, but so are all of the members of city government. It may be tempting to bitch and moan when you do not understand the full scope of this issue. But instead why not try and do something to help indtead of being a naysayer.

thinkingthings said...

Even without power, I've listened to radio coverage of press conferences and read the paper. CU and officials have gone above and beyond to keep folks informed and to get power back and the mess cleaned up as efficiently as possible. People who haven't lived anywhere else may think CU is not worthy of praise, but those who've experienced other utility companies know that we are lucky beyond belief. Twitty, Carlson, Coonrod and the gang are not twiddling their thumbs. They are working hard, worried sick and doing the very best they can for everyone--rich, poor and in between. Yes, I want my power back. No, it isn't CU's "fault." God's maybe, climate change, probably, but certainly not CU's.

Busplunge said...

The Asplundh folks were in front of my house last night at 12:30 am cutting tree limbs off the wires.

My Mother, who is still with us, woke up and saw the flashing lights through the curtains and thought the house across the street was on fire.

The adventure of this housecamping is going fast, be so glad when her power is restored.

Maybe this is god's way of getting back at us because we elected democrats and passed stem cells.?

Anonymous said...

Or waged a unjust war?

Probably none of the above.
It is always dicey to speculate as to Gods motivations.

Anonymous said...

Busplunge,

Maybe it is because we didn't elect enough Democrats and left too many of the Republicans in office - especially in Missouri!

Anonymous said...

Without power and or access to internet, many people missed the "twice a day" press conferences given by city brass, CU, etc. So, the conferences didn't make us feel much better. I read the re-caps in the newspaper; officials don't know when they'll get all the power back; we'll have a debris removal plan - sometime.

But good news! As of today, day 8, they say only another WEEK without power! Only two weeks total! (If that's even true.) I don't like to place blame, especially when trouble is due to circumstances beyond any one person or entities control, but this is unbelieveable. Two weeks is about 12 days too many - 11 tops. Not only that, much of center city still has wires dangling from the sky. A large wire has been hanging in the west bound driving lane on Elm Street at National Avenue for a week. No one can pick it up???

I will never again support a CU agenda. The idea of never again supporting a city agenda is quickly becomming an idea as well.

John Stone said...

Above I related a story about Southerland Lumber Co. and the price of kerosene. I was just getting some gas and my old friend who runs the Conoco station at Bennett and Glenstone told me that that price includes a gas tank. So, it does sound fair to me and I am sorry that I had doubts about an old time company in SGF.

Guess what radio station "look!! I singlehandedly saved SGF" VD(j) had it unverified on his show?

He entered the it's all about ME! mode as I recall about Wed. As to him working 35 hours straight? Hockey-horse-pucks. He went home every day to sleep, because he talked about how cold his house was. He broadcast about 9 hours per day and probably did some other stuff, but sitting on your ass in a studio with power does not make for a rough life.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9/11. What is wrong with you? What do you really expect? Did you expect CU to prevent the storm? I'll bet serious dollars that you were among the many who bitched and moaned when CU began aggressive tree trimming after the '87 storm. Maybe you're just venting because it is a pain to have no power, but use your common sense! CU has more than 1000 people trying to fix your f--king line. You're not the only one. You should be damn glad you've got CU and not some big personless utility company who's CEOs don't even live here. I just cannot believe that people have the nerve to COMPLAIN after all that is being done 24 hours a day to make this right. You all should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

How do you KNOW what's being done? From news reports? From press releases? I'm sure "more than 1000 people" are trying to fix my f-ing line. From where? Some unknown neighborhood? Not around here, center city, that's for sure. We need house by house hook-ups at this point. Where are these utility workers?

Back to my original question above: HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT'S BEING DONE? CU knows at every given moment who has power and who doesn't. They can pull up a grid/graph at any given moment and tell where power is out and where it isn't. Have you seen ONE news show, ONE newspaper that has shown this grid? That has shown exactly where power has been restored on a day by day basis? Didn't think so. We don't have those kinds of reporters anymore. CU has to SHOW US what they are doing. And they should - given we own them and are their bosses!!!

But gee, other than that, there's nothing wrong with me. Oh yeah, I do bitch about agressive tree trimming. We live in a Tree City USA town. We have trees. Limbs fall. Lines go down. CU fixes them. Timely would be good on that. And we have squirels that take power out too. Should we agressively trim them back too?

Busplunge said...

I agree with the above comment. Where are the outages?
I know my Mother has been without power since Friday and she is staying with us. She is getting tired, but at least she is not in a shelter.
I wonder why those churches are closing their shelters? Cost too much, so much christianity wears thin after a week?
I know that lots of trucks in Phelps Grove area and area immediately south of Phelps Grove.
Our lights went out last night, lots of trucks at Fort and Sunshine, they came back on in about an hour. So glad.
I don't know what is worse, to have power and lose it or to lose it and not get it back. Great Expectations.
On another note, did anyone else read the article about Jean Twitty running for school board in Saturday's paper? She called Norm Ritter on his cell phone to meet him at Kraft Admin Center to turn in her petitions.
She called him on his cell phone. Does anyone else have access to Norm Ritter's cell phone number?
Or for that matter, access to any city, county or school official's cell phone?
NOw. let's see how easy it is to sign on to make this comment.
first time failed, trying again,
second time failed

Busplunge said...

lol--- reading some other blogs,
John Twitty has some unusual nicknames!

Anonymous said...

Busplunge - Dr. RiDDer's cell phone number is public knowledge. He publishes right on the district's website. Maybe you should check out your facts before you accuse others of wrongdoing. But looking at your other posts, it doesn't appear that you let the facts get in the way of your opinions.

Busplunge said...

Anon 4:57---
gee, not only did I not let the facts get in the way of my opinions before I started accusing others of wrongdoing, I spelled the guy's name wrong.

How could I be so effing stupid? Guess I'll need to get that hearing aide afterall. Ritter, Ridder, maybe I was thinking of Cardinal RiTTer, he never accused anyone of wrongdoing.

And, of course, you are correct, his cell number is on the website. Not under the contact us tab, but under quick links to administration, then read the blurb and click on read more, then you get to his cell number after his letter, after Dr. RIDDER'S letter.

Cell 417 526-8248
Home 417 881-1870
Office417 523-0130

When clicking on the contact us tab, then clicking on the telephone station tab, his phone number is listed as 526-0026.

And of course you are correct also, I am so sorry I offended you and made you write that opinionated comment about my comment.

I wish I just an inkling of your superior intelligence, just an inkling of your wise demeanor, just an inkling of your accute ability to discern when others accuse others of wrongdoing, and your ability to see things that others don't.

But, I don't.

Gee, I will be glad when the lights come back on!

Anonymous said...

Me again: anon who has something wrong with them.

Guess what? The calvary did come to center city today; yesterday, actually. And some people got power! Guess what else? Countless more lost power - today. The tree trimmers tell us they are coming in to the nieghborhood ahead of CU to get rid of the tree limbs, then CU will follow. Unfortunately, the tree trimmers are knocking power out when removing limbs. Can't get through to CU. Hundreds of redials later ... . Day 10 ahead ... and counting ...

Busplunge said...

My Mom's lights back on at around 7:15 pm.

I went over to check, as I do several times a day (she lives just a mile east of us).

There was a utility truck there from South Carolina. The guy was just getting ready to turn on the lights. The guy in the truck said CU needs to do some serious tree trimming. I remember how people sqwacked back in 87 when CU was pretty aggressive on tree trimming.

I put a new furnance in her house last January. It was 47 degrees when the lights went back on, warming up about 1 degree every ten minutes.

She was so excited to get back home!

Anonymous said...

To anon 737 jan 21...By calvary, do you mean Convoy of Hope was near the house? Or do you mean to compare line crews and tree trimmers to the cavalry? Just a long standing pet peeve I have to point out the difference, no other opinion concerning the postings....

thinkingthings said...

It sure seems like people's paranoia is getting the best of them. How do we know CU is working? First,why would they lie about it? Second, just drive around the city-they are everywhere and they are hard at work in the cold, snowy, rainy weather. Apparently John Twitty does not have power, either, so all that nonsense is a waste of internet space. I still have no power, and I can see that people down the street do. Instead of that making me paranoid or angry, I am happy to know they are in my neighborhood and they are gradually getting it done.

I wonder, frankly, if there is a certain Canadian radio announcer behind many of the rumors aimed at stirring up the citizens and increasing paranoia.

Anonymous said...

Twitty's neighborhood lost power for less than a day. At the rate we pay him, he can afford to live in a new subdivision with underground lines.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the saddest things I've ever seen. You people are pathetic. Boy I am glad this internet thing allows for all this productive conversation. It's too bad your phone lines aren't down so we don't have to hear you all bitch, bitch, bitch.
Ya your the only ones in trouble and it's all Twitty's fault, he did it to you, becuse you are such outspoken oppentents of his policies. Boy you bloggers are making a real differance.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to objectively investigate CU's management of this crisis to see how truly effective or ineffective it has been.

Although my family and I are now in our ninth day of no electricity, we are willing to reserve final judgment of CU until we know the facts. Unfortunately, it seems that the entire community of news media in this city have taken an ultra-soft, almost hands-off approach toward asking the hard questions of CU's management.

Case in point: This morning's headline in the News-Leader tells us that "More utility, tree crews on the way." Well, hallelujah. But the story says nothing about when CU actually raised the flag to ask for help from those out-of-town workers. The headline would seem to imply that CU's request must have happened only yesterday (January 23). If that's the case, what took CU 11 days to figure out they were in over their heads? Why weren't the additional crews summoned sooner? If that's not the case, tell us in your news columns. Spell it out.

This is just one example, and I offer it not to pick on the newspaper, even though the News-Leader's coverage has been strong on photography and warm-and-fuzzy coverage, and pathetically weak on peeling back CU's public relations veneer to see what is really going on with its response to this event. Television news has been even worse.

At my house, or should I say, at my shelter, my family is getting weary of plenty of things. Not the least of which is a city filled with media outlets who seem so eager to break their own arms from patting themselves on the back about their mediocre storytelling efforts, while thousands of us continue to exist in the cold and dark limbo of an apparently inept public utility management system.

Jay Nixon, are you paying any attention to this?

Anonymous said...

I'm ready to start a petition to rename the local power-water-sewer people City Futilities.

Who's with me?

Anonymous said...

ANON 9:39 --

City Futilities has been suggested before but it really seems to stick now!!

However CU does not do the sewers. CU does electric, water, natural gas, and bus service. The Public Works Dept runs the sewers. Public Works is directed out of city hall.

mit said...

I'll bet the city will lose its "Tree City, USA" designation in liue of Firewood City, USA".

We're finnally back on line after over 234 hours without power

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:39 here.

Point well taken about Public Works. I stand corrected.

But I stand by my previous statement, at least to the extent that City Futilities' public statements certainly have the odor of sewer to them. They may not be responsibile for the pipes, but they sure seem to generate the effluent when their mouths open.

I have to agree with Anon 9:36. Won't someone in the local media please demonstrate they have the guts to ask CU some hard questions? Why is it that they're just now asking for reinforcements from Nebraska and Texas? Did it really take this long for them to figure out they were overwhelmed?

Could it be that nobody in the media is asking this because they're afraid CU will turn off the juice to their transmitter or printing press?

Christ Almighty, people, this is SPRINGFIELD, not BAGHDAD!!! Let's get the lights back on already!

mit said...

"lieu"
"finally"

John Stone said...

How about the best of two worlds .. Futility Utilities ... Than way their logo on the letterhead could be ....

FU......

Anonymous said...

Did you all know that 2 other states had the same problems? I'm sure that wasn't an issue at all with reinforcments.
All you crack reporters should get jobs with the paper. If there is one thing you all have in common it is an unbiased proffessional opinion.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a crack reporter, 3:16. But weed? Sure thing.

Say, you're not News-Leader Publisher Tom Bookstaver, are you? You've definitely got the spelling acumen for the job, even if you aren't him.

Anonymous said...

John Stone, you are my hero. FU, indeed!

Anonymous said...

Sheeesh! I've just lost a ton of respect for the NewsLeader's Tony Messenger. He is out of town for a week but comes back claiming to know all about the CU situation. Everything is peachy, he says, and critics should stuff socks in our big mouths. I guess he really does write just what the Publisher BuckSaver tells him. I had hoped for more from him.

Anonymous said...

To anon 2:51 --

Maybe while we are changing the name of CU to FU and the newspaper's publisher from Bookstaver to Bucksaver we should also change Tony to Toady.

Anonymous said...

If, even for a moment, you ever expected independent, intelligent, well-reasoned editorials to come from anyone hired by Gannett to fill The News-Leader's daily editorial page, please post your name and phone number here. I have a not-so-gently-used war in Iraq I'd really like to sell you. (Or, if you're up for something different, I've got a new Iran model you should really take out for a test drive.)

Signed,

Karl Rove

Anonymous said...

The recent ice storm has left many people wondering what will be done to prevent such a disaster from happening again. Many people, such as city council candidate Steven Reed www.reedforcouncil.com have suggested that CU bury the power lines.

City Utilities claims that the cost of burying the lines would be 1.5 billion dollars but they do not cite who did the study. In a Virginia SCC study, the cost of burial was less than 250,000 per mile. At this rate, Springfield would need to have 600,000 miles of utility lines. We do not. Why is City Utilities being so secretive about their information?

Why are they being so resistant to a proposal that would create jobs, provide added security to our power grid, and protect businesses and the public from lost revenue and personal goods? Also, it is misleading to say that we would be paying for this all at once. It would be done over a period of years.

Anything worth doing is going to be difficult, that is how the world works. Think of how different America would be if we never built highways because they “cost too much.”


Lucas Cain
1356 E. Cherry, Apt 4
Springfield, MO 65802

(417) 225-2140
Lucas1@missouristate.edu