There are four of us who live in our home – my son, me and our two 14-year-old cats. Two of these are paranoid about storms. That would be me and my "Sissy" cat. (The other cat, P.K, is a moron who sleeps 22 hours out of 24, and eats the rest of the time.) When the barometric pressure changes Sissy becomes restless and agitated long before the TV sends out storm warnings. Sure enough there will soon be a bad weather forecast. I am not that attuned to the pressure, but when the sky darkens and there is an alert on the television, I become apprehensive. My son is the stabilizing influence as he tries to calm us down, and take care of our fears.
Storms of '33
I did not live in Minden when the tornado of 1933 devastated our town. My mother was operating a Federal canning kitchen for Sabine Parish, and we lived in Zwolle.
That same afternoon that Minden had its tornado, we had a severe storm. We lived one block from the high school/grammar school. We had hardly left the school building before the windows were sucked out and the glass scattered across the playground.
On reaching home we began to see the damage that the high winds were causing. Garages, picket fences, oil derricks and small buildings were tossed about like match boxes. We sought refuge in a huge railroad trestle along with most of the downtown residents. That storm left me with a horror of storms that I never outgrew.
As the years went by we saw many thunderstorms, with lightning and were afraid, but Mother would always pray and ask for God's protection. She also advised me to always put on clean underwear because you never knew if you might be killed with your legs up in the air. I always did what she said.
An Ice Storm
There have been many storms in the almost 56 years that I have lived here. Thunderstorms and ice storms. I remember in January of 1973 we had a severe ice storm. My mother was in a hospital bed in what we call "Suzanne's room," with an electric blanket keeping her warm. We had two floor furnaces for heat.
Limbs were falling from the pine trees and driving into the ground like spears. I prayed for the electric lines to hold up and not deprive us of the electricity we needed to keep my mother warm, since the floor furnaces depended on elecricity for controls.
As I looked out I saw a pine tree split and start down into the rose garden. It aimed at the power lines. I prayed as never before for the electricity to not be cut off. As I watched the limb came down on the power line.
The limb was forked, and each side was almost twelve or fourteen inches in diameter.
The forked limb came down on the line, and the line bent down and swayed a little and suddenly it came up and pitched the limb off onto the ground. The line held and did not break. It was a miracle. Never had a line come up and tossed a section of a tree off itself. But it did. God answered my prayer in a most spectacular way.
Sissy and I have been scared of severe storms that have occurred during her fourteen years of life. Last Tuesday and Wednesday nights were no different, if possible, worse. We did not have the severe winds on Tuesday night that the northern part of town had, but it was still bad and so scary.
But Wednesday night was terrible. Patrick Dennis of Channel 12 said the storm would hit Minden at 8:40, and it did, just on time. I had my son put a chair in the bathroom on the south side of our home. That is the older part of our home, and is well-built, cross barred in the attic, and has wood walls, sheet rock over that and outside wood walls, insulation and then Aluminum siding. As I started across the house a loud "Boom!!" frightened me to death. My son said that it was a transformer blowing out. Then the lights went out, along with my oxygen machine, the TV and everything else. I made it to my chair and listened as trees fell nearby, the wind blew so very hard, lightning glashed and thunder roared scared me out of my mind along with my cat. Her eyes were wide, her tail was bushed out like a raccoon, and she was wild. I must have oxygen 24 hours a day and my machine is electric. Also I have Sleep Apnea and must sleep under a C-Pap machine that is also hooked to the oxygen.
All night my son filled a hand held oxygen tank with liquid oxygen about every two hours and kept me breathing. Perhaps we dozed for a total of an hour. I wish my mother knew that on that Wednesday night I not only had on underwear but I was fully dressed even with my elastic stockings for the entire night.
I called the light plant and reported it that night, and I called the Mayor's office and told Wanda about needing my oxygen. By nine the next morning we had electricity and the transformer repaired, and I had my oxygen machine working, my C-Pap machine working and my freezers and their contents were saved.
I know that the men who take care of our electrical system, those who work at the light plant, the policemen, and the firemen worked, tirelessly, around the clock to help Minden folks out. Handling electric wires is a dangerous business in broad daylight, but on a dark rainy night it is even more dangerous. Our crews worked until the wee hours of the morning and then started early again the next morning. Our town has the most caring group of people and I owe each of them a big "Thank You!"
Perhaps this is just another advantage of living in a small town where we know the men who take care of our utilities, the men who ensure our safety - the policemen and the firemen, but my heart just overflows with love for their dedication. I thank Wanda Pittman from the Mayor's office for listening to our needs and doing something about them. I am sure that not all their calls and comments are complimentary, but almost every one of my friends feel just like I do. Just consider this Cameo a love letter to Minden, to the utility workers, the electric plant workers, the police, and the firemen. You are the best and we thank you!!!!! (Sissy thanks you, too.)
Juanita Agan submitted a weekly column to the Press-Herald for more than 15 years before her death in 2008. She was a resident of Minden since 1935. The Press-Herald is republishing selected articles from Mrs. Agan's Cameos column every Wednesday.