Sometimes we all need a hand
HandMADE Montana's sign couldn't withstand Thursday's blizzard forcing employee Summer Perkins to drag it inside. (Kristi Niemeyer/Leader)
Editor | January 18, 2024 12:00 AM
Last Thursday, I walked to work in a snowstorm. I walked home in a blizzard.
Wind-blasted and snow-stung, I headed south on Main Street and slipped in to HandMADE Montana, looking for something to save my neck and head from icing up. Owner Carol Lynn Lapotka wrapped me up in one of her handmade neck gaiters and I trudged onward. Fortunately, it was just six more blocks.
By the time I reached home, Hwy. 93 had closed to all but emergency travel, and temperatures were headed into the basement, which meant I needed to go there too. My basement – a dungeon, really – is where the plumbing lives or dies. So I turned on heaters and hoped for the best.
By Friday, schools were cancelled, as were all the weekend’s sporting events. At 7:45 p.m., our general manager got the call that a pipe burst in the apartment above the Leader office and flooded the floor below.
Saturday, after 29 below the night before, my neighbors who have four vehicles could start none of them. The Miracle of America Museum still offered cocoa and chili for Winter Fest, but not even Gil Mangels could get the vintage snowmobiles started.
Saturday was also the day I elected to leave my house for 24 hours and neglected to leave water trickling from my spigots. By the time I returned Sunday afternoon, I had no running water and as of Tuesday, still don’t.
My son, who spent his weekend thawing pipes on his dad’s century-old house, arrived Monday to troubleshoot my 114-year-old abode. I headed to WBC to stock up on the usual: heat tape, spray foam insulation, another heater. WBC’s pipes were frozen too.
We resituated heaters, which entails slithering into the crawlspace where only the spiders live (we hope). Robin filled a sizeable hole in the foundation. We went out for lunch. Still no water. He returned to his also elderly house in Ninemile and scraped ice off the interior windows. At least his water still works.
It’s Tuesday as I write this, and everyone at the Leader is working from home while fans blast across our still soggy floor. My neighbor brought me two big jugs of water. When it gets this cold, he said, everyone needs a hand.