The snow showed no signs of letting up, but I was already seeing posts on social media where people had indicated they had survived what they had called "Snowmageddon" or "Snowpocalypse." At the time, I thought these folks were being a little optimistic that any of us would survive.
I based that prediction on what I saw out my living room window. At one point, all the fresh powder that Winter Storm Helena was dumping on Mountain Home made it nearly impossible for me to see my neighbor's house across the street.
Once the temperatures had fallen 15 degrees below Congress' approval level and reached the point where snowmen were begging for mercy, I knew this storm was going to be one for the record books for southern Idaho. At that point, it was the worst the local area has seen in at least 31 years, and I'm wondering when this winter season will shatter the state record.
Case in point: Our neighbors in Featherville stopped trying to measure the total snow accumulation with a standard ruler. From what I'm hearing, they've resorted to using yard sticks and are now measuring the snow in feet versus inches.
That same type of snow wrecked havoc on Soldier Mountain down the road near Fairfield, which had to close because there was too much snow. If that's not irony, I don't know what is.
Meanwhile, the high winds and additional snow that fell Jan. 7 took our local roadways and pretty much "erased" them. For example, law enforcement patrols on Highway 51 reported seeing snow drifts up to five feet deep with similar reports coming in from the interstate and Highway 20 north of town.
As much as I don't want to admit it, I've seen winter storms during my lifetime that were significantly worse. Among them was the Great Blizzard of 1978 that beat the living daylights out of northeastern Ohio.
One of the most vivid memories I have of that storm was being awakened in the early morning hours by the horrid sound of twisted metal followed by a loud crash on the roof of my family's house. I dashed out of my bedroom to see what happened and didn't notice anything out of the ordinary at first.
And then I looked out the back door window and noticed that the patio deck was completely gone, including the metal supporting columns. The hurricane-force winds had turned that patio roof into a makeshift parachute and flung it unceremoniously down our street into a pine tree three houses away.
Of course, I wasn't too worried about losing the patio. I was too busy dancing around the house when I found out that school was cancelled.
Since then, I've seen Mother Nature dish out some pretty nasty weather. I've been outside when the temperature hit minus 47 degrees Fahrenheit, which didn't factor in the wind chill. Sixteen years ago, I faced the near-impossible task of having to endlessly shovel snow away from my car during a winter in northern Japan in which we got slammed with more than 200 inches of total snow accumulation in one season.
But this is southern Idaho, and I was under the impression that we were supposed to be exempt from this type of extreme weather. I base that on the fact that we live in a part of the United States where the ground and trees are capable of spontaneously bursting into flames each summer.
However, after what happened last week, I'm not so convinced that we qualify for that snow "exemption."
In fact, I'm now looking at having to replace not one, not two but three snow shovels that I somehow managed to destroy while trying to keep the snow at bay. However, those plans are on hold because there isn't a snow shovel or bag of ice melt available for sale anywhere in this part of the state.
But as much as this storm battered Mountain Home, it appears at this point that we got lucky because we were left relatively unscathed. Look at what happened to the west of us in the Treasure Valley and eastern Oregon in which people are dealing with a major amounts of damage to homes, businesses and roadways.
As the snow continues to melt, I shudder at the thought of seeing news coverage of these people losing their homes due to all the flooding that is likely coming.
Looking back over everything that happened, the one thing I have to say is the response from people in Mountain Home and surrounding communities was nothing short of amazing. The city alone had every piece of snow removal and construction equipment out there trying to keep streets and highways clear with people out in force with shovels in hand to keep their driveways and sidewalks clear.
Locally, our street department team received needed support from other city agencies, including parks and recreation and the Mountain Home Fire Department. Essentially, if a city employee could drive a snow plow or push a shovel, they were out there doing everything they could to combat the weather.
But it didn't stop there. We had a number of stories related to the newspaper office in which people pulled together to help their fellow neighbors, especially our elderly residents who otherwise would still be trapped in their homes.
This is what makes our community so special. Whenever someone is in need, there are many others out there willing to extend a helping hand. Because of that, we were able to weather this winter storm a lot better than if we had just focused on taking care of ourselves.
And that help is likely going to be needed once again as another winter storm prepares to bear down on southern Idaho.
-- Brian S. Orban