I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
This week marks 23 years since the 1997 snowstorm. Lincoln had more than a foot of snowfall, trees hadn’t yet shed their leaves and there were major power outages and damage throughout the city. While it was certainly a disaster and a tribulation, people still love to talk about their memories from that event.
We stayed at my mom’s, camped out on the floor with sleeping bags and comforters. My grandmother was still alive then and she was so funny. During the day, it was easy to forget that we didn’t have power, the house would warm from the sun and meals baked in the oven, we went to the laundry mat once they had their power restored and I called our home phone number a few times a day to see if the answering machine would pick up (evidence of power!). One neighbor had a generator so every night we would go over to their house to watch the 6pm news and then come back and play cards by lantern until we were too tired (or too cold) to stay up any longer.
At work we heard stories about who had gotten which utilities back, and creative ways that people were managing; showering at the hospital, making coffee with a camping percolator on a propane grill, digging small tunnels in snow banks for refrigeration. I remember seeing all the electrical trucks from out of state who came to Lincoln to give LES a hand in getting everyone restored. That storm changed so many company emergency response plans, and the timing that they determined was needed for emergency generators and how often organizations had power outage drills. A small number of people had cell phones and all cellular plans were still “by the minute” pricing so if you worked for a company that had a switchboard outage you may have handed off your cell phone with a verbal agreement that your minutes would be paid for by the company.
What a tribulation and adventure. Certainly an inconvenience. Halloween was CANCELLED. But now, 23 years later checking in with people it is still lovely to hear the stories of how we made it without technology, or heat, or hot water, in some neighborhoods for an entire week.
Prayer: God who knows all the conveniences we have been offered, thank you for watching over us in times of emergency, tribulation and disaster. While this was a challenging time for our community we endured and became stronger. As we prepare for a winter and holiday season impacted by the inconveniences of COVID help us to remember the times that we have endured and overcome in your love and support. Amen