Rick Rogers: Feeling guilty about power during ice storm

Rick Rogers

I don’t know about you, but I felt a little guilty during this last wave of ice and winter weather that came through Missouri earlier this week.

In case you have been living under a rock — or in the dark this past week, which I know some of you have — this recent ice storm affected mostly our neighbors to the north in Joplin, Webb City, Carl Junction and Carthage. Once again, tens of thousands of residents were without power.

Here in Neosho, the damage was minimal. Sure, there were outages — some were out as many as one, two or three days, and there are a few still without power — but compared to what we experienced nearly a year ago, this recent winter storm was wimpy in our necks of the woods.

And that’s why I felt a little guilty when talking with family and friends who live in Joplin and Webb City.

My in-laws are heading into Day 6 without power. They have been sleeping in a cold bedroom averaging 52 degrees. Until a few days ago, they were still living by the heat of a gas fireplace and cooking on a camp stove. My brother-in-law finally convinced them to hook up a generator to the house to give them some more heat and a few lights. All of us had urged, begged, pleaded for them to live in our house in Neosho, where we had electricity and warmth. They wouldn’t come.

“It was just like the old days,” both of them said.

“I slept in a room where if you had a glass of water it would freeze overnight in the winter,” my father-in-law said.

That was then… this is now. It’s 2007 and water should never freeze in a bedroom — unless you live in an igloo.

Since I had a generator just sitting idle in my garage all week, I was offering it to anyone without power. Finally, my buddy, Chip, took me up on my offer. He lives in Joplin, and had been without power since Sunday.

So, on Wednesday, he took the generator, gassed it up, hooked up a few space heaters, lights and a small TV to it, and powered it up. He sat back in his recliner ready to watch TV by the warmth of a space heater and the glow of a lamp or two, when what do you know, the electricity came back on.

“I had never been so happy and so mad at the same time,” he grumbled. “I worked all that time, and the generator was working like a charm, and I just had everything hooked up when, bam, the lights came on.

“But, I admit, I can’t complain.”

No, Chip can’t.

Your sports editor, Cody Thorn, can. He and his family are still without power. Cody lives in south Joplin because his better half is a nurse at one of the hospitals, and they have been living in the dark.

I have quickly learned Cody doesn’t do well without ESPN and sports on TV. I would venture to guess he has been spending a lot of his free time at various free Wi-Fi locations reading sports Web sites, and at sports bars watching games on TV since most of this week’s local sports slate had been canceled due to the weather.

And, during all this time, most of us here in Neosho were toasty and warm.

That’s why, I guess, I felt a little guilty that I wasn’t among those suffering through another outage.

I felt guilty until my wife, Elizabeth, convinced me that, “we paid our dues last year, don’t you think?”

She was right. We did.

Rick Rogers is the publisher of The Neosho Daily News. His “Family Matters” column publishes on Fridays. E-mail him at rrogers@neoshodaily news.com.