Neighborliness speeds thaw during icy power outage


THIS WEEK, western Howard County residents learned that ice may be nice, but electricity is a necessity. Neighborhoods in Clarksville, Glenelg, Woodbine, West Friendship and Dayton lost power in the ice storm Thursday and early Friday. Many were without power for at least three days.

"For those of us who live in the west," Dayton resident Sharon Keeny said, "losing power is even more of a challenge because we don't have running water."

When the power fails, residents with wells lose water because the pumps run on electricity.

Some residents went to stay with relatives who had power.

Lucien Berry of Clarksville, whose power was out for three days, returned home Monday when the electric service was restored, only to lose power at 3: 30 p.m. that day, when high winds took down power lines again.

"I've lived out here for 40 years," Berry said, "and this is the worst storm I've ever seen."

In West Friendship, Haddox Sothoron described the skyline view from his property as "eerie."

"It looked like a lightning storm," he said, of watching transformers in the distance sparking as they blew out.

Sothoron reported that the temperature inside his home dropped to 48 degrees, and much of the food in his freezer had to be thrown away. He joked that it was as cold in the house as it was in the refrigerator.

In addition to loss of power, many residents had to saw their way through downed trees to get out of their driveways.

Woodmark resident Hamish Osborne reported a lot of large trees toppled by the heavy ice on his wooded property.

"It was just by the grace of God that one of those huge trees did not fall on the house," he said.

The Mower Works in Clarksville sold more than 40 chain saws over the weekend. Down the road, Kendall's Hardware managed to remain open, though it had only enough light to conduct business.

Steve Kendall said the store was without full power for two days and was forced to do business transactions manually.

"We provided an important service to our community," Kendall said. "Our customers needed supplies such as lamp oil, Sterno, kerosene heaters and firewood."

The store sold out of these items and then sent a truck to Anne Arundel County to replenish its stock.

Pizza Hut, banks and gas stations in Clarksville were left without electricity to heat ovens and operate computers and gas pumps. The businesses were forced to close.

The power outage led some residents to experiment with wilderness survival methods.

Alida Holyoke's father, David, purchased a propane camp stove and went outside wearing a hat and gloves to prepare beef stew.

The Ellicott City resident had also found a solar shower heater and was trying to figure out a way to take a hot shower.

"Fortunately," Alida said, laughing, "the power was restored before we had to eat the stew and use the shower."

There's nothing like a crisis to bring out the best in people. Paul Shoffeitt of Lisbon reported that many of his neighbors pitched in to help each other.

"There was a lot of calling around to make sure people were OK," he said.

West Friendship resident Doug Edwards -- owner of Edwards Construction Co. -- assisted several elderly residents by climbing onto their roofs and scraping off ice.

He pulled some tree limbs off the roof of one woman's home and patched a hole. Monday's torrential rain did not leak through.

The best good-neighbor story came from Sharon Keeny, who reported that a Glenwood family of seven whose power was off for the weekend took sleeping bags and moved into the house that they were about to purchase.

They shared it with the sellers, even though the sale was not concluded until Monday.

For pizza-lovers

If you love pizza, the Girl Scout troops of Fulton want you to know there is a way to eat hearty and support a good cause. On Tuesday, Pizza Hut in Clarksville will donate 20 percent of the price of food items sold between 5 p.m and 9 p.m. -- including carryout orders -- to the Fulton Cluster Girl Scouts, a group of seven troops.

Mount View ensembles

Enjoy a "Night of Ensembles" at 7: 30 p.m. Wednesday at Mount View Middle School.

The program will begin with solo and ensemble chamber music performances, and then the Mount View Jazz Band will take the stage.

These 25 musicians have been practicing since October for the free concert. They will play works by Thelonius Monk, Jerome Kern, Jerry Nowak and others. The concert is free.

A foolproof excuse

Freshman County Councilman Allan H. Kittleman, a western county Republican, missed his first council work session Tuesday -- but he had a foolproof excuse.

His wife, Robin, was giving birth to the couple's fourth child, James Tobin Kittleman -- 9 pounds, 10 1/2 ounces and 21 inches long -- who made his appearance at 3: 20 a.m. yesterday at Howard County General Hospital. James joins two sisters, 7 and 4, and a brother, 2.

Mother and son are doing well, he said, joking that he named his son after County Executive James N. Robey, a Democrat.

Pub Date: 1/21/99

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