September 20, 2020

Hancock County; Making best of bad situation

SULLIVAN — “The pine limbs were going off like shotguns,” said Phil Dunbar, who was out late Thursday night, chain-sawing a big pine that fell across the Hog Bay Road running between Sullivan and Franklin.

Like people in many Hancock County towns, Sullivan residents had been without electricity for more than 30 hours as of late Friday afternoon. The previous night, many listened to the eery tinkling of ice-caked branches and alarming crashes of limbs and boughs falling around their homes.

After a sleepless night, Dunbar opened up his grocery store on U.S. Route 1 where customers were stocking up on provisions. He estimated he would lose thousands of dollars of fresh meat and goods because of the power outage.

“Let’s put it this way, every ounce of ice cream I am going to be throwing out,” he said at the checkout counter lit by a propane lamp.

Standing in line, Sorrento resident Lisa Wamsley volunteered to barbecue all of Dunbar’s meat on her huge gas grill.

“We can throw one hell of a block party, she told him. “We’ll charge a buck per person.”

“Never …” 72-year-old North Sullivan resident Barbara Davis mused Friday afternoon. “Never have I seen anything like this. We have had ice before but nothing like this.”

Davis was sitting in a rocker close to her Clarion wood stove while her 77-year-old husband, Curtis, was outdoors with a hammer, beating ice off his pea-green 1965 Ford pickup truck.

The Davises weren’t really prepared for the storm. But they did have a 50-gallon trash can and a 5-gallon bucket filled with “slop water” down cellar. They had their supper by kerosene lamp and turned in just after 6 p.m.

“Just about froze to death,” she chuckled.

Ardis Looker, Sullivan resident and mother of three, festooned her snug blue and yellow shingle house with her homemade candles. She and her boat builder husband, Bryce, were prepared for the storm, having filled up their bathtub and jugs with water.

The Lookers’ biggest problem has been getting their 15-month-old daughter, Laeta, to eat. The toddler is accustomed to watching Barney and keeps slapping the TV.

“They screamed nonstop,” Looker said, referring to her twins, Laeta and Robert. “They know something is wrong and they want Mommy to fix it.”

The Lookers’ 4-year-old daughter, Lorelei, has been helping out, allowing her baby sister and brother to play with her pretend-kitchen pots and pans.

Down the road, Sullivan resident Bruce Munger was out videotaping the icy scene in his yard. He and his wife, Jenny, and daughters, Melody and Mandi, live in a pale blue clapboard house more than a century old. They had the wood stove cranked and kerosene lamps lit in their cozy home.

“It’s a sense of deja vu. This is not the first time this house has been in these conditions,” he said. “I hate to say this, but I am kind of enjoying this.”

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