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The Big Chill of 2009

January 22, 2009
by Kathleen Mears
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Southeastern Ohio’s weather was extremely cold last week.

Night temperatures reached below zero several days in a row.

Friday, January 16 was our coldest day.

That morning it was well below zero and the shower on my unit sputtered.

We could get only hot water and very little of that.

I started out getting a shower and finished with a sort of half shower, half wash up at the shower room sink which was functioning. The other unit’s shower had no hot water.

Also many residents had no hot water in their individual bathrooms, including me.

On Friday, as the temperature continued to drop, there was a small leak in the kitchen's office during the day. The fire alarm went off around 5:00 p.m. A pipe which supplies the sprinkler system burst in the service part of the building and water went everywhere. However they were able to repair it and turn the water back on.

Saturday morning my computer said the temperature was 19 below. The temperature in the kitchen was 37°. The ice machine was not working probably because the pipe supplying it was frozen. But Saturday’s temperatures rose reaching 27° by 4:45 p.m. A couple of hours later the fire alarm went off. The fire department discovered that pipes supplying the sprinkler system had burst spewing water in the kitchen. The entire building’s water supply had to be shut off, as well as the electricity in the kitchen. The kitchen sustained some damage and it will be a while before it is returned to its previous condition.

The maintenance man, administrator, and other staff were here Saturday evening until the wee hours Sunday morning. They brought large and small bottles of water and also ice. They were concerned that repair would be difficult over a weekend, particularly a holiday weekend.

Since there was no hot water for washing Sunday morning, most residents were cleaned up with wipes. I was washed up with no rinse shampoo and some cold water. Bottled water was used for cooking, drinking, and to flush toilets. I told the staff that I felt like I was camping out. But my idea of camping out is a very nice motel.

Sunday morning the steam tables where unusable. So we had a cold breakfast on disposable plates. They had no clean meal trays or dishes. Breakfast was more Spartan than usual, but we all had something to eat. After breakfast the administrator helped the staff by washing dishes for several hours.

Later Sunday a couple of other leaks occurred one in the break room and another in my bathroom. They removed several things for my bathroom to make sure that they will not get wet. While the laundry was being done at a Laundromat, the main water supply line underwent repairs and the water supply was restored a few hours later. Further repairs will be made this week, but it may be a while before the building is back to normal.

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...