Yahoo is publishing first-person accounts from readers who are surviving the cold snap that’s affecting large portions of the country this week.
FIRST PERSON | The polar vortex that has engulfed central Ohio, plunging temperatures well below 0 and potentially deadly wind chills has caused extensive damage, injured numerous people and trapped many others.
Snow is not a major factor, but the bitter cold caused a massive water main break in the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, trapping hundreds of downtown workers inside buildings and requiring emergency workers to rescue them and brave wind chills of up to -35 throughout Monday night to cope with the issue. Tuesday, many state and local government workers as well as employees of other downtown businesses were told to stay home. The water main break had caused a river of water to gush throughout a wide area or downtown, which froze almost immediately and resulted in several downtown streets to remain closed and no water service to several downtown businesses Tuesday. First shift state workers have been instructed to stay home on Wednesday. Ice and mud remains throughout several downtown city streets and even inside some businesses, forcing them to remain closed. Several vehicles were damaged by the gushing waters and a four foot section of one road buckled.
One Columbus apartment complex had a sprinkler system malfunction early Tuesday morning, causing significant damage and forcing several families to have to be evacuated, while firefighters dealt with the situation. In another incident, a firefighter fell on ice and broke his hand. At Olentangy Commons apartments, up to 800 people were still without power Tuesday afternoon. On resident told 10-TV News that his thermostat quickly went from 70 degrees to 39 degrees after power was disrupted. American Electric Power (AEP) was still working to restore power to hundreds of residents in and around Columbus, saying the power outages were caused by an overload of use by consumers.
While temperatures climbed slightly above zero on Tuesday afternoon, wind chills remain well below zero, causing many people, including myself, to stay indoors and not venture out.
Temperatures will continue to drop Tuesday evening, while not as cold as Monday night, wind chills will also remain below zero, making it another bitterly cold, dangerous night for residents in and around Columbus Ohio. While it is comforting to feel safer indoors, away from potential water main breaks, risk of falling, frostbite and hypothermia, it is also frustrating to feel trapped indoors, unable to venture out and resume normal daily routine.