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Surviving winter’s worst

Surviving winter’s worst
Surviving winter’s worst
Dr. Wayne Willis

We’ve lived in this part of the country since 1975. Our worst two winters by far were the back-to-back winters of 1977 and 1978.

In 1977, the Ohio River froze and hundreds of Hoosiers and Kentuckians walked across it. The ice was 6 to 10 inches thick. For almost a month, the high temperature did not get above freezing. It once reached the minus-20s for three straight nights. In one stretch, it stayed below zero for over 50 straight hours. In one day, 15 inches of snow fell. Snowfall was over 30 inches in January. Many residents were trapped in their homes for days.

In 1978, what some have said was the worst blizzard in United States history, struck. Louisville issued its only blizzard warning ever. Winds were hurricane force. School systems closed for weeks. Motorists abandoned their vehicles on interstates. Car batteries and water pipes froze. Mail delivery stopped. Travel for days was virtually impossible. Governors declared a state of emergency and called out the National Guard. Snowfall was over 30 inches in February.

Our personal issues were primarily two. One, we were stranded for weeks with two little boys, 5 and 2. Had we had a medical emergency, help would have been a long time coming. Two, we had no water for 13 days. The freeze was between the outside of our house and the street. Several times, carrying two boys, we trudged through two feet of snow and ice to a neighbor’s house for a family shower. To have one commode flush, I carried three gallon jugs of water from a neighbor’s house.

Yes, little children, the olden days were rough.

Our take-away life lessons centered on feeling gratitude in hard times for what is left (like lights, heat and health) while bemoaning what is lost (like a flushing toilet).