Weather the Storm: Remembering the Blizzard of 1993

Blizzard of 1993 in Armuchee Valley, Walker County, Georgia

It was around this time–20 years ago–that the lights came back on. That is, things were just starting to get back to normal in northwest Georgia after the blizzard of 1993.

I remember it well. Out on the farm in East Armuchee, we were without power for a week. We were lucky to have a wood burning stove that helped us keep warm. We used a camping stove to cook food that was stored in the freezer. We didn’t even have running water since there was no electricity to pump the well so we melted snow and did the best we could. It was “roughing it” for sure and made us realize just how much we took for granted in everyday life. I live in New York City today and during hurricane Sandy last year it was a similar situation–no power or water for a week where I live. Of course, there was no snow outside. If there had been things would have been a lot worse.

Blizzard of 1993 in Armuchee Valley, Walker County, Georgia

As an adult, I often think about how our ancestors lived. It wasn’t that long ago that they didn’t have running water or heat at all. Electricity didn’t come to the Armuchee Valley area of Walker County until the 1930’s–less than 100 years ago! My Grannie was already married and beginning her adult life by then. When you imagine having to deal with such a blizzard in those days, it makes you stop and wonder. For our ancestors there might not have been so much difference between a normal winter storm and a blizzard. They were prepared to survive for months with just firewood and faith. But for us, the disparity between riding out a blizzard and dealing with everyday winter is shocking.

My most vivid memory of the blizzard of 1993 is of helping my grandparents, Earl and Mary [Pope] Jordan. I grew up on the same farm where they lived. While they did have a fireplace in the house, they didn’t have any wood close by and were not able to go out in the cold to get it for themselves. So off I went, all bundled up to protect myself from the bitter cold. With my sled in tow I marched across the fields that separated our house from theirs. These fields had been plowed by many generations of my ancestors. Up on the hill behind Grannie’s house there was a stack of old firewood. I loaded up my sled and pulled it through the snow for my Grannie and Papa. Without me, they could not have stayed warm that week. They would not have had a way to cook food. I was proud that I could play my part in keeping them safe and warm.

Blizzard of 1993 in Armuchee Valley, Walker County, Georgia

Of course–as my sled might imply–there was a lot of fun during the blizzard too. My cousins and I slid down the snow-covered hills over and over until we could do it no more. We built snow men as big as we could manage. That kind of snow was a sight we had never seen and we aimed to have as much fun with it as we could. When we could take no more of the cold, we played card games and rationed batteries to take turns playing my Nintendo Game Boy.

But all too soon the snow faded away and with it the carefree days of sledding and snowmen. It felt good to have heat in the house again and to sit up at night with the hum of electric bulbs illuminating the room.  And though I probably wouldn’t choose to relive it of my own accord, it was a time I will never forget and look upon fondly both for the hardship and the holiday. For, after all, winter will come again and you never know when there will be another blizzard. My grandparents may not be around for me to haul their firewood. But if I am ever in their shoes, I hope someone will haul the firewood for me.

4 Responses to “Weather the Storm: Remembering the Blizzard of 1993”

  1. Mom says:

    I hope it was a once in a lifetime experience. I remember you made yourself an office in the balcony closet because it was warmer there. I used to always look forward to snow because that meant a day off from work. That year we got several snow holidays. We had to go to grandmother’s and papa’s to take a bath so we could go back for a day or so before students had to go back. People right in Subligna didn’t loose their power and water like we did. The road graders had plowed the roads so the mail could run. There were piles up to four feet high going down the hill from our house. We got gas logs after that. They installed a gas heater for grannie and papa about an hour before the power came on. They enjoyed it the rest of their lives. We burst the ice on the pool to get buckets of water to flush commodes. We put ice chests in the snow with some food to keep it cool. It was during March Madness and daddy rigged a way to watch the games on a five inch TV!!! He could see good then evidently!

  2. Nicole says:

    I’ll never forget that week. Daddy was able to get out “barely” in the Subaru (4WD) and picked up a family of 4 that had no heat or utilities. (We’ve had gas heat and stove as long as I can remember.) So they stayed with us the whole week. I couldn’t tell you their names if I HAD to!
    I remember putting on my Daddy’s coveralls and boots to walk 1/2 way to meet Erica. She stayed the whole week too.
    We had blankets & pillows piled everywhere in the living room in front of that heater. . . I learned to shuffle cards that week. 🙂 Good times, we were fortunate.

    • Yes! Once the roads had finally been cleared (but power was still out at our house), we went down to Grandmother’s in Subligna to spend the day. You, of course, lived just across the road there. I remember we all went sledding down the hill. That was so much fun!

  3. Nicole says:

    How could I ever forget “tubing” down Dot & Harold’s driveway?!? LOL
    My Uncle Tim stood at the bottom trying to keep us from hitting the mail box. Unfortunately, while having such a BLAST, I came barreling down the hill and took his legs out from under him & broke his collar bone. God love him, He has always looked after me like a big brother.

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