Aiken Icepocalypse – Day 1

Now that life has returned to some kind of normality following a wild winter week in Aiken, I can finally get caught up on my posting. This is likely to be a long one because so much has happened lately, so bear with me!

As many of you would have heard, Aiken was hit by a huge ice storm last week, which wreaked havoc in the lives of locals and eventing snowbirds alike. We lost power early on Wednesday morning, and had to live without it for 6 days.

I’ve never encountered an ice storm like that before and was amazed at how much damage was inflicted. The sheer weight of the ice brought down branches and whole trees all over town, which in turn brought down many power lines, which was the reason for the prolonged power outage.

On the first day when the ice was falling, we kept all the horses in the barn and didn’t ride any of them, although some of our neighbours did still work some of theirs. We just decided that the risk of injury outweighed the benefits – the ice was incredibly slippery under foot, not to mention the fact that falling ice is pretty blinding and unpleasant for horse and rider alike!

Barn work was a challenge, as we had all the windows and doors shut up to try and retain some heat, leaving no natural lighting inside. Mucking stalls by the light of my cell phone became tedious pretty quickly! We did have a generator that we were able to use to run water to the barn, so we were at least able to keep the horses hydrated.

Once the necessities were done that morning, Phillip generously let us head into town to try and get a hot breakfast. This was a long and slow journey though due to the thick coating of ice on the roads – even our big 4WD truck wasn’t immune to slipping and sliding. Nearly everything in town was shut down, even the gas stations. Luckily for us, Waffle House was still open and we ordered nearly everything on the menu and sat down to a huge feast.

That first night was pretty unpleasant – we were trapped on the farm because the roads had become so dangerous by that stage, so there were a number of us piled into our little apartment above the barn with no power or water. We soon became painfully aware of how unprepared we were for this kind of situation… We had one single scented candle to try and share between us all, and dinner existed of Oreos and cereal. Even with multiple layers of clothing and as many blankets as we could find, we were still bitterly cold and miserable. We realised the next morning that we should have set up camp down in the barn itself – all that trapped horsey body heat actually kept the place very warm and toasty. And of course, we had to suffer one of those terrible 21st century tragedies – no wifi or phone chargers!

We had spent that whole night hoping that the power would be back on any minute… Little did we know that we were in for nearly a whole week of living in the dark ages!

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