My husband, Al Sequeira and I who live in Rochester, Massachusetts and tried to survive the Nemo Blizzard that arrived, Friday, February 8, 2013. We were determined to wait for the power to come back on when it went off at 11pm. With high winds of hurricane force that was not to be.
Saturday morning, the freezing air hit me full force when I pulled the covers off to get out of bed. It was only 34 degrees in the house. I couldn't bring myself to take off my warm pajamas so I kept them on layered with a pair of winter fleece slacks. My housecoat was not going to leave my body for any reason so I kept it over the clothes. An added cardigan sweater and sweatshirt made it bearable to get out of bed, but not until I overlapped them with my hospital socks I wore to bed with another cold pair of socks. You can’t be a candidate for Miss USA during storms of this sort.
Twenty minutes after Al and I weren't downstairs in the kitchen, our fingers felt numb so we put our winter gloves on feeling sort of silly. Our daily morning hot cup of coffee was not going to happen so we took a cold drink and some muffins from the counter. Our bodies craved something hot.
Within a half hour, our heads were so cold that Al pulled his Patriot's hat out and I found a white winter hat that I pulled down below my ears. Our goal was to get warm so I tore out the winter blankets and Al sat in his recliner while I cuddled on the couch. All our thickness of clothes and blankets didn't help our nose from being painful in the freezing temperature.
My next move was to take off our hats and I dug for two ski masks to keep our nose warm to prevent frostbite. At the time looking hilarious, we took pictures of ourselves. The moment seemed comical on how we were dressed being in our house. Within two hours, nothing was funny. By late afternoon, I felt I'd go out of my mind if our heat didn't come back on to thaw my body.
Al casually mentioned that he should have thought to bring our Colman propane stove in last night. My eyes widen with hope of survival, "We have a propane stove!" Instantly, my thought went to hot tea, soup, grilled cheese…anything HOT.
Al had completed two months of back to back surgery so he couldn’t shovel through almost two feet of snow to get to the stove in the barn out back. Our son, John, arrived a half hour later and saved our insanity by getting the stove. At 5pm, I had my first hot anything! I don’t know which was better; the hot tea going into my cold body or just holding the cup in my hands. We followed with a hot cup of soup. I thought I died and went to Heaven.
Our yard had been plowed out during the early morning hours Saturday morning and we were waiting for a second swing to clear the remaining heavy snow that drifted back onto the driveway. We were blocked in with snow and getting outside was impossible.
The Rochester Counseling on Aging Senior Center offered a shelter for people with no power and we were both getting ready to prepare for the move once we could get out. Our garage doors were electric so we thoughts of calling the Rochester Police once we could walk to the street to get picked up. Our driveway didn’t get plowed until the next morning.
By 7pm, we just wanted to be warm and thought cuddling in bed would be the next sensible move. We honestly thought we could suffer one night and survive and the power would return by morning.
Nothing in the world was going to make me peel off my four-layered clothing to get into bed. I ran my hand over the cold mattress and stared at it for a good ten minutes trying to mentally prepare myself to jump into something so bone-chilling. Was this going to be worse?
I added two comforters on the bedcover and got depressed seeing the switch to our electric blanket. How spoiled we become and take a push of a button for granted. Al took off his winter snow pants thinking he’d be too hot during the night. Too hot! I advised him not to remove anything warm but he was sure he’s sweat. Sweat comes from too much heat and we had none! Within ten minutes, he pulled his snow pants back on that became numbing from being off his body.
We looked at each other seeing strangers in bed with ski masks, gloves, our winter four-layered clothes and thought we were out-of-our-minds fighting this disaster that could kill us staying in temperatures in the thirties. He was congested from a cold and we were both heart patients with my added problems with diabetes. I wanted to cry from the mental frustration but the tears would have turned to ice going down my face.
By morning my prayers weren’t answered. Everyone we knew in Rochester had no power. Within two hours, our friends, Bob and Rachel Constant from New Bedford, had regained their power and invited us to stay with them. Our daughter, Debbie Dutra from Berkley opened their doors to us, but we wanted to be close to home with so many doctors’ appointments facing us that week in Dartmouth. We had to make a trip home to get food out of our freezer and into the Constant’s to save it.
Our dreams of just a few days with no power turned from Friday night the 8th to Wednesday morning on the 13th. We are so thankful for not having our pipes freeze on us. I thank God we had loving friends to take us in for a longer period than any of us expected. We discovered our friendship was strong and enjoyed the time together.
I will never forget this nightmare experience and will forever feel for every person suffering from any catastrophes from storms. I can’t imagine the pain and heartbreak with people who lose their homes. We never know until we walk in someone else’s shoes.