Four days without power: Winter’s wrath, no bath

jkovac@macon.comFebruary 14, 2014 

Power_Nightmare

Melissa Thompson, of Gray, holds the T-shirt she has been using to keep a tally of the days she and her family have been without power.

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Melissa Thompson was out of clothes.

The winter storm that clobbered power lines across the region had not only left her without lights and running water, she couldn’t iron her wrinkled wardrobe.

On Friday, Thompson, who lives a couple of miles east of Gray, had a doctor’s appointment in Macon. She wanted to look presentable. She slipped on a baseball cap and a gray T-shirt.

No one would’ve known she hadn’t done laundry or had a real bath since Tuesday. But on the back of her shirt, in blue marker, she’d penned a message that no doubt echoed the sentiments of 5,000 or so of her electricity-less Jones County neighbors: “My Official ... 4 Days of No Power T-Shirt. ... Hot Mess ... Winter Storm Pax 2014.”

At midday Friday, some 1,500 Georgia Power customers in Jones were still without service. To the east toward Milledgeville, about that many more were in the dark. Upward of 3,000 around Lake Sinclair also had no power.

About 3,500 customers of Tri-County EMC, another electrical provider in Jones, had no service Friday evening.

On her way to the doctor earlier in the day, Thompson, sporting her homemade T-shirt, said, “People are either gonna think I’m crazy or I don’t know what an iron is.”

Thompson, 40, works with her sister at McMichael’s Pizza in Monticello. But Thompson hadn’t been in the last few days. A mother of two, she’d been too busy keeping her house warm and cooking on the wood-burning stove in her living room.

“I call myself Pioneer Polly this week,” she said.

Thompson made skillet potatoes with butter and garlic one day, vegetable soup another. Her son, Lee, 16, whipped up some noodles.

Thursday night, she made clam chowder on a Coleman stove perched on a coffee table.

She and her husband tried to take what passed for baths.

“When you can’t wash yourself, you start going into a whole ’nother level of despair,” Thompson said.

Her husband insisted on heating water on the stove. “A wimp,” said Thompson, who stepped in a tub of cold water they’d run before the storm to use for toilet flushing.

Because they have a well with an electric pump, when their power goes out, they have no water.

The food in their fridge spoiled.

Thompson kept her cellphone alive by charging it in her Ford Fiesta.

“We’ve learned to sleep a lot because there’s nothing to do,” she said. “The time drags on.”

Thompson went on Facebook and invited neighbors who needed a warm place to stay to come over.

“Some people said their houses are, like, 40 degrees and they have kids in there,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll get power on soon before we all go crazy.”

At her doctor’s appointment, Thompson showed off her T-shirt.

They thought it was funny, said it was great she had such a good attitude.

When she got home, the lights were on.

To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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