Weathering the storm

Thursday, February 14, 2008

An ordeal

Hours after frigid temperatures and loss of power drove Fred Werchow and his mother, June Werchow, to sleeping in his car for warmth, a tree toppled through the roof of the RV they called home in Marble Hill, Mo.

The structure was destroyed, he said.

The sound of the tree falling was terrifying, June said.

"Now there are two holes in my roof," she said, but talked of returning and making temporary repairs with tarps.

They spent the night at the Osage Community Centre in Cape Girardeau, where the American Red Cross had set up a shelter.

Getting there was an ordeal, he said.

The gravel road June lives on was choked with ice and debris, rendering it nearly impassable, he said.

"Now I'm just trying to take care of us," he said Wednesday night. Two of the family's dogs were curled up in blankets in the family car, unable to sleep inside the shelter.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Werchows felt rested. Each used a cell phone to call and check on friends.

Leaky roof

Unforgiving cold, darkness and a leaky roof drove the Deboe family to take shelter at the Osage Community Centre on Tuesday night, Jim Deboe said.

Deboe, his wife, Laura, and son, Zack, were going to tough out the ice storm and pursuant loss of power, but they were forced to stop burning wood for warmth when the roof began leaking, because it was causing the ice to melt off the roof and making the leak worse, he said.

"It's right over out pool table," Zach Deboe said of the leak.

Many of their Cape Rock Village neighbors decided to stick out the power outage, they said.

Laura Deboe said they took showers at their gym after work, and decided to watch television until the 10 p.m. lights-out at the shelter.

"We'll probably venture home tomorrow," Jim Deboe said.

Rescued by Jackson's finest

Ginny Jones hated leaving her Jackson home, but she was really cold.

Jones, 82, chatted with strangers while staying at a Red Cross shelter in Immaculate Conception Church.

"I was freezing," she said. "My son lives in St. Louis and he was beside himself. He said, 'You have to get out of there.'"

She called 911.

"Two nice police officers, a man and a woman," arrived and moved one of the heavy branches blocking her front door, she said. The limb ruined her porch railing and new mailbox. Her magnolia and oak trees are gone.

Jones said the officers promised to bring her home when the time comes. She baked cookies Monday and plans to give them some.

Family affair

Debi Crawford, a Red Cross volunteer, checked in new arrivals at the shelter in Osage Community Centre. Her 89-year-old mom, Venita Wengert, was among them.

"We had her come and spend the night at our house," Crawford said. Neither Wengert nor the Crawford homes had power, but the Crawford family made a fire in the fireplace. Wengert bundled up in blankets and slept nearby on the couch.

Toughed it out

Dan and Nancy Muser stayed home, despite the loss of power.

"We've got a fireplace downstairs, it was fine," he said. "We slept upstairs. I don't like it where it's real hot."

The couple used their fireplace to reheat leftovers.

"We bought a generator about a year and a half ago. It doesn't do the whole house, but we do OK," he said. "We don't use it a lot, but it's a good thing to have."

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