Where were you during Ice Storm ‘94?

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

By Bonnie Brown


Do you remember Valentine’s Day in 1994?  I’m sure you remember the Ice Storm of ’94.   

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

You may recall that we had warm temps on February 9, but the weather began changing and sleet and ice began to fall overnight causing most of the county to lose power.

It was scary and inconvenient.

Most residents made the best of it by adjusting to cooking whatever food was thawing in their freezers and teaming up with neighbors to saw their way through the limbs and trees blocking driveways and roads.

Then there were the florists who had been preparing for months for Valentine’s Day. It seems that every female student on the campus receives flowers on this special day.

How could the florists fill the orders and get the flowers delivered when everything was in turmoil?  The storm on February 10 certainly impacted every business to varying degrees.

I was in Pascagoula attending a United Way meeting with Donna Long, former Director of United Way of Oxford-Lafayette County, when the storm hit Oxford.I spoke to my husband the next morning and learned about the power outage, the broken limbs, and fallen trees. It was a mess!

I told my husband that I was standing out by the pool at the conference hotel where a gentleman was mowing grass nearby.  The temperature was in the upper 60s.  And no one at the conference had yet heard about the ice storm in north Mississippi.

Donna Long, who was trained in crisis management, had earlier talked on the car ride to Pascagoula about her plans to head to southern California to assist in the clean-up efforts following the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake.

When I learned from my husband the extent of the storm damage, I told her she likely was going to be needed in our little town of Oxford.   

My next call to my husband ended abruptly.  When the connection went dead, I nearly panicked.  I was so distressed.  I made up my mind I was heading home even though Tom’s advice earlier was to stay put given that the roads were a mess, but I was determined to get home.

I barely slept that night and early the next morning Donna and I were packed and headed to Oxford.  We stopped in Jackson to see if we could secure a generator or other supplies.  None were available given that they had been sent to North Mississippi.  I was able to get some lamp oil and bottled water.

When we got to Grenada, there seemed to be a line where the ice began.  We slowly made our way to Oxford and were shocked to see the damage. I managed to drop Donna at her house and was able to pull my car in the driveway when I got home on Woodson Ridge.

Tom and our sons, Jeff and Dennis, were happy to see me and we had added neighbors Ricky and Carla Adams to our circle.  We stayed warm with the two fireplaces we had, we could cook on the gas grill on the patio, and we had oil lamps to provide light.

Ricky provided some fabulous Louisiana seafood from his freezer, and we had water from our pool to flush the toilets.

We had a huge container of pennies that Tom had been collecting that we used to play the card game Boure.  Carla was even able to work on her dissertation during the day as she sat in front of the dining room window.

Ricky and Dennis ventured into town to go to Kroger to replenish our dwindling supplies and discovered that they were allowing a few customers at a time into the darkened store.  They reported that chainsaws were humming all across town.

All in all, we made out pretty well over the course of five days without power.  However, it took weeks for power to be restored in some parts of the county.

Any memory of Valentine’s Day 1994 is lost to me, but I do remember that most of the students celebrated in New Orleans at Mardi Gras as they fled Oxford to party in the Big Easy.

Let’s hope ice storms are done for this winter.Here’s to a Happy Valentine’s Day 2023 y’all.